Interviewer: Why would someone need an attorney after a collision? How does insurance come into play? A lot of people may think that insurance may handle everything. What would you tell them?
Kevin Roach: There are an infinite number of reasons why someone should hire an attorney. The insurance company typically will discourage you from hiring an attorney. Their adjusters are trained to try to discourage you from hiring an attorney and the reason is if you're involved in an auto accident in Missouri, most people don't know what the value of their case is. The insurance companies are in the business to make money and they want to cut their losses, and then an insurance adjuster’s job is to settle your case for as little as possible.
Most people may have never been involved in an accident in their life. They don't know what their case is worth, whereas a good auto accident attorney does know the value of your case. That's the only way you're going to get full value of your case is to have an attorney work it up the right way to advise you every step of the way, like taking pictures, getting the bills, getting the proper treatment, and presenting everything to the insurance company in the right way in order to maximize your recovery.
An attorney can help you out in numerous ways. There are so many pitfalls that you can fall victim to if you aren’t being advised. The insurance companies have trained adjusters, attorneys, and just a whole team of people working and if you're just going at it by yourself you're just at an extreme disadvantage. You may think that the adjusters are nice and they're doing everything they're supposed to, but they could take advantage of you when you trust the insurance adjuster.
Interviewer: We're going back to that whole idea of the insurance adjuster calling me and asking me to make a statement. Now, given that it would be a good idea to not to give away any information, what should I tell them? Should I ignore them? Should I give my statement? Should I refer them over to you?
Kevin Roach: If you're injured in an auto accident, you should not have any contact with the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster. There is no reason to have any communication with them. Their primary function is to try to get your case settled for as little as possible, which is not in your best interest. They may act like they have your best interests in mind, but they don't. It's not their job and people don't understand that. There is no reason to talk to them and they may be nice people and they're just doing their job, but the bottom line is you should not have any communication with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Interviewer: But if they do try to contact me should I just refer them over to you?
Kevin Roach: You refer them to your attorney or to your insurance. If you don't have insurance, that becomes a problem. You don't have an insurance adjuster that could be an advocate for you and communicate with the other insurance company. In that situation it would definitely be advisable to retain an attorney; otherwise you're going to be trouble.
I see this over and over again: people just tell the insurance adjuster too much. They give them all of their pre-existing medical history and they just keep giving and giving and all they're doing is gathering this information trying to build the case against you, which is not a good situation to be in.