Take a second to imagine that you just got in a car crash. The crash was the other driver’s fault, and your car is pretty beat up. Hopefully you’re okay, but you have some pain and discomfort in your lower back, neck, and shoulder. You exchanged insurance information with the other driver, and police arrived on the scene to help sort everything out. An ambulance took you to the hospital for treatment and you were released back home after some minor treatment. Now that the initial phase is over, you’re saying to yourself “now what do I do?”
Don’t worry – this confusion and uneasiness is very common for people injured in car wrecks. For most of our clients, it’s their first serious car wreck ever, and they’re not exactly sure what to do at this point. But be warned: The insurance company for the other driver (who caused the wreck) knows this too, and will not hesitate to take advantage of your confusion to get you to settle for way less than your case is worth, in a method often referred to as “swoop and settle.” They know that you’re in pain, out of a car, possibly missing work, and in general very vulnerable and stressed out. The whole idea is to get you to quickly settle for a small amount before you even know the full extent of your injuries, figuring that the quick money will be appealing.
Typically this process goes as follows: The opposing insurance company will call you for a recorded statement, and will demand that you give them one as soon as possible. They may ask you leading questions in a subtle attempt to admit partial fault for the wreck. Be advised that you are under no obligation to immediately give them this statement, and that everything you say to the insurance company, with or without a lawyer, can be used against you.
The opposing insurance also won’t wait for you to finish your treatment before offering you a payout. This is extremely shady, as it is very possible that you will incur thousands more in future medical expenses, and you may be required to pay some of those medical providers back at some point. If your small settlement doesn’t cover those expenses (and it likely won’t) then you may be on the hook to those providers.
Don’t be taken advantage of like this and cost yourself thousands of dollars and peace of mind for a wreck that wasn’t even your fault – if you or someone you know was involved in a car wreck and has any questions about what to do going forward, don’t hesitate to consult an attorney to protect your interests.
For more, check out Texas watch: http://www.texaswatch.org/blog/stop-swoop-and-settle?platform=hootsuite