Filing an insurance claim after an auto accident can be almost as painful as the collision itself. Gathering documentation of your injuries, your vehicle’s damage and related expenses can be time-consuming. And while you will hope your claim receives approval, the insurance provider may reject part of or all it. As you navigate the claims process, it’s crucial to understand how you can achieve an adequate settlement when the cards seem stacked against you.

The dangers of recorded statements

North Carolina follows fault-based insurance laws. These laws provide that after an auto accident, you must make your insurance claim through the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. As part of the process, you will work with an insurance adjuster. The adjuster will investigate the specifics of your claim. And they may request that you make a recorded statement about the accident. By giving them one, you put yourself at risk of having your claim reduced or rejected. This is because the adjuster could interpret anything you say as proof that your injuries are not as serious as you indicated. Keep in mind that there are no laws requiring you to give a recorded statement, and you may protect yourself by declining to make one.

The challenges of negotiating a settlement

Most insurance companies will offer an initial settlement lower than your claim. You may fear that you will receive nothing if you reject their initial offer. Yet, this is not the case, and you have power to negotiate your settlement. But if negotiations break down, you are not legally bound – when filing a third-party claim – to enter arbitration with the at-fault motorist’s insurer. You would have to do so if you were filing your claim through your insurance provider. Arbitration remains an option with a third-party claim. But if you are nowhere near consensus on a settlement, you may want to file a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist instead.

Because insurance providers can be difficult to work with, you will want to consult a legal professional to help you chart your route forward after an auto accident.