Only the most serious of traffic accidents culminate in personal injury lawsuits, but even in accidents so minor that both vehicles are still operational and the damage is just cosmetic, the drivers involved almost always make claims with their insurance companies. The system of insurance companies offering settlements to reimburse drivers works pretty well when there are no injuries and the insurance companies are just deciding who pays for vehicle repairs. Unfortunately, in accidents involving injuries, the insurance companies still employ their same penny-pinching tactics without regard for human suffering here in Kansas and Missouri. Your best protection is to get a motorcycle accident lawyer involved, ideally before you even call the insurance company. The motorcycle accident lawyers at Foster Wallace can help you whether or not you have already talked to an insurance company about your accident.
You are Under No Obligation to Give a Recorded Statement
When you call your insurance company to make a claim or report the motorcycle accident, the insurance company will record your call. The insurance adjuster or agent should tell you that your call is being recorded, but even if they do not tell you this, you should be careful about what you say. If you have already hired a motorcycle accident lawyer, you should say that your lawyer will respond to the insurance company’s questions, and then give them a contact number where they can reach your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer yet, then say that you will get your lawyer’s contact information and call them back.
Ways the Insurance Company can Use the Recorded Statement Against You
In criminal cases, the police must warn the defendant that anything he or she says can and will be used against him or her and that, therefore, the defendant has the right not to speak and to have an attorney speak on his or her behalf. In civil cases like car accident lawsuits, the other party will try to use any evidence they can against you. In the recorded statement, the insurance agent is trying to manipulate you into saying certain things, so that the insurance company can justify offering you as little money as possible or use it against you later in your case. These are some things to watch out for in phone conversations with insurance companies.
- Fault – The insurance agent wants you to admit that the accident was your fault, at least partially. In Missouri, the damages a jury awards you are decreased by whatever a jury determines is your fault for the accident. In Kansas, the same rule applies but if you are found 50% or more responsible for the accident then you would recover nothing.
- Minimizing Your Injuries – The insurance company wants you to say that you are not seriously injured, so that they can offer you little or no money for medical treatment.
- No Other Important Facts – The agent or adjuster will try to get you to say that it is not necessary to get the facts from anyone else before they give you an offer.
In other words, the insurance company is concerned with dealing with your accident at as little cost as it can get away with.
What to Do if the Insurance Company Calls You
The best thing you can do when someone calls you from the insurance company to ask for details about your car accident is to refuse to give them any information yourself and let your lawyer do the talking. If you do not have a lawyer, you can use the following strategies until you get a lawyer.
- Write down the details of the accident before you talk to the insurance company, and have your notes in front of you during the call, so you do not contradict yourself.
- If the agent asks you about your injuries, say that you are still undergoing treatment.
- Never allowed to get bullied into agreeing with something that you don’t actually believe happened. They may try to act like your best friend – they are not and have a motive for asking you certain questions. Their job is to pay you as little as possible.
- Say that it is not a good time to talk and that you will call back later.
The Role of Police Reports
Insurance companies will sometimes rely on the police report from a motorcycle or car accident to decide who is at fault for the accident and how much to offer as a settlement. If you file a lawsuit in relation to your motorcycle accident, the defendant will try to use the police report and any recorded statements collected by the insurance company as evidence.
Of course, police reports do not always get all the details right. You should get a copy of the police report as soon as you can and read it carefully. In both Kansas and Missouri, you are usually able to obtain a police report 7-10 days after a wreck. Obviously, every municipality is different and timelines vary. If there was a death involved, then those reports may take months to come out because the government may do a reconstruction of the accident. If the police report contains errors or is missing important information, you can go to the police station and ask to have an addendum added to the police report. Sometimes the police fail to even draft an accident report (we are finding that this is happening too often). It is a good idea to contact a motorcycle accident lawyer soon after the accident, so that he or she can obtain a police report, confirm that there is a police report and you do not have to go back down to the police station to have them draft a report, and then review the police report with you and help you draft an addendum if appropriate.
Do Not Let the Insurance Company Pressure or Intimidate You
Insurance agents are not above using dishonest tactics to pressure you into saying things you do not mean in recorded statements. For example, they might tell you that this is your only chance to give them a statement, or else you will get nothing. They might also tell you that you cannot modify the police report. Neither of these things are true. In Missouri, you have five years from the date of the accident to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit. The Missouri statute of limitations, which is five years, should guide your decisions, not an arbitrary deadline imposed by the insurance company. In Kansas, however, the statute of limitations is two years. No matter what the insurance agent says, you have time to talk to your lawyer about your motorcycle accident case.
You also should not let the insurance company pressure you into accepting the settlement amount they offer. Paltry settlements from the insurance company are not your only option. In fact, if your injuries are serious, a motorcycle accident lawsuit may be a better choice. You should also have your lawyer confirm your motorcycle was not defective and rule out any product liability claim against the motorcycle manufacturer. Your lawyer will help you recover all damages you are entitled to - like damages for medical expenses, past and future lost income, and noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Motorcycle Accident?
If you've been injured in a Kansas City motorcycle accident you should speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.