Deciding what to do after a car accident can be daunting, so it’s helpful to know what actions you’re legally allowed to take before calling the insurance company.
Insurance insiders with access to special resources that cannot easily be obtained otherwise will help determine if a case is worth pursuing.
Statute of Limitations
In the state of Alaska, a person who has been injured in a car accident has two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system. This does not apply to an auto insurance claim, although all insurance companies will require a claim to be made “promptly” or “within a reasonable amount of time” following an accident. This time limit is at most a few weeks, but it is typically just a few days.
Speak to an Attorney Before Filing
Speaking to an attorney before filing a claim with the insurance company can make all the difference in the outcome of a claim. This applies to both your own insurance company as well as the other party’s.
Since there is a statute of limitations for car accident injury lawsuits, it may be helpful to know how much time remains to come to a settlement.
Do Not Speak Directly to the Adjuster
Anything that you say to an insurance adjuster can be used against you later in a court of law. For this reason, it is helpful to have someone else (such as your brother, uncle, friend, or attorney) speak to the adjuster for you. The insurance company will not have the same legal ramifications with them as they do with you.
Claims adjusters can be tricky and may encourage claimants to say things that could ultimately hurt their case. After all, insurance companies are businesses, and businesses are specifically designed to make money.
Say as Little as Possible
Don’t give the insurance company more information than they request. Always refer the insurance company to your lawyer rather than answering their questions on your own. Tell them that you do not wish to make any statements to them at the time. This will help prevent any miscommunication that could lead to an undesirable final outcome.
If you do end up speaking directly to an insurance adjuster, be sure that you do not communicate with them when you are bothered, distracted, on medication, haven’t had enough sleep, or in extreme pain. Be very careful about the things you say. Your words become permanently part of your claim, and can both help and hinder the insurance company’s ultimate decision. If you don’t want to offer a verbal statement, you reserve the right to submit a written statement instead.
Record the Conversation
Alaska requires one-party consent with regard to recording conversations. As long as you are one of the parties in communication, you are legally allowed to record a phone conversation without informing the other party.
This is also true the other way around. In the state, insurance providers are not legally required to admit they are recording the conversation since they are an included party under one-party consent laws. You can, however, specifically voice that you do not wish to be recorded, and the provider will not be lawfully allowed to record your conversation.
Have Your Attorney Present
You bear the right to have an attorney present if you decide to make a recorded statement with the insurance company. Statements do not offer any legal determination, and can actually harm a claim if not treated with extreme care. Statements do serve a purpose, however, and can help expedite the case toward a quicker settlement.
Each claim is unique in the sense that there is no end-all-be-all when it comes to making a recorded statement. Consult your insurance insiders at Farnsworth & Vance to find out which option is best for you in your specific circumstance.
Call Farnsworth & Vance today at (907) 290-2576 to speak with an attorney about your potential case.