Interviewer: How soon after the injury should someone contact an attorney?
It Is Advisable to Retain an Attorney to Protect Your Interests
Kevin Roach: I think it’s important to retain counsel immediately because I’m seeing the insurance companies being more and more aggressive. They’ll contact the injured parties almost immediately after the accident and in some instances before the victim is even discharged from the hospital. They do this because they don’t want you to seek advice from a personal injury attorney in St. Louis, for very obvious reasons. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that the adjuster’s job is not to give you a fair settlement or compensate you for all your damages. Their job is to settle the claims quickly for as little as possible. I see people fall into this trap all the time and it is normally the nice folks who are trusting of others who get shorted the most.
It Is Advisable to Avoid Making Statements to the Other Party’s Insurance Company before You Have Retained an Attorney
Many times, what the insurance company will do is try to get recorded statements from all of the parties involved, which is never a good idea. You have to make a statement to your own insurance. The at-fault driver’s insurance, absolutely not. You never want to make a statement to any other driver’s insurance company.
I see that time and time again, where victims, a day or two after the accident, will be contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The victim then makes a statement and will sometimes say things that are detrimental to their case that they unfortunately do not realize. So it’s just pretty important to speak with an attorney right away, especially if you have serious injuries. Otherwise, you can really jeopardize your case. People need to keep in mind that the insurance adjuster has a job and it is to try to get out of paying if they can.
Interviewer: What are some of the things that they say that may hurt their case?
Kevin Roach: The insurance company will ask you, for instance, if you had your seatbelt on. The accident may not have been their fault. It’s maybe very clear that it wasn’t their fault. They think, “Oh. I didn’t have my seatbelt on. It doesn’t matter. This person rear-ended me and they were going 50 miles an hour.”
People may admit to being on prescription medications. There is any number of things that could come out that could really be detrimental to their case.
In Missouri, Admitting to Not Wearing Your Seatbelt Can Reduce the Recovery from an Auto Accident
In Missouri, it does matter. If you did not have your seatbelt on, that’s admissible and that can be used to reduce your recovery. They can basically admit that in the court of law and they can twist it around to make it look like you wouldn’t have been injured if you did have your seatbelt on.