Some insurance adjusters will call you to reach a quick settlement following a motor vehicle collision. They adjuster reaches out within several hours, takes a recorded statement and offers to settle the case for a decent but small amount of cash in exchange for a release.
The problem is that the full extent of your injuries may not be known for some time, and in Maryland and the District of Columbia you legally have up to three years to settle your case or file a lawsuit, so there really is no rush.
A reported case from 2016 illustrates the problem. In that case, the injured person attempted to deal directly with the insurance adjuster, gave a recorded statement and verbally agreed on the phone to accept $500 plus payment of his “reasonable” medical expenses. (This amounted to an oral contract.) The adjuster sent a settlement check for $500 and a letter confirming the settlement. The person never cashed the check and eventually hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit for all his damages. The insurance company counter-sued for breach of the settlement agreement and won! On top of that, the insurance company was awarded $10,000 for its legal fees against the person who was hurt.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind:
- Do not settle your case soon after an accident if you are unsure of your injuries or need for future medical care.
- Do not give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster unless you are prepared to accept the consequences of doing so. It’s always best to talk to a lawyer BEFORE speaking to the insurance adjuster.
- If you agree to a verbal settlement with the adjuster, you may be held to that agreement regardless of how it may impact you. Oral contracts are enforceable!
- Agreeing to let the insurance company pay your “reasonable” medical expenses can be a nightmare because you are giving them control to decide what is or is not “reasonable” and what amounts they will pay.
- There is no law that requires you to give a recorded statement to the other insurance company pre-litigation.
Dedicated to protecting and advancing your rights,