You were just in a car accident. The first thing you do is to check and see if your kids are alright. They look frazzled but seemingly uninjured. Same for you. With that, you burst into tears. Any pain you might be in doesn't even faze you at the moment.
You look around and try to figure out what happened. Who hit you? Where are you? Is it safe to get out of your car? That's about as much as you can emotionally handle right now. You sit in your car and try to think of what you're supposed to do next.
When all is said and done, you head back home, traumatized and dazed. But the trouble is not over. Not just yet.
Returning home is your first mistake.
Even if you don't feel like you're hurt, or your children look ok, you should get checked out in order to ensure you are all truly without injury.
Before you have time to even process the day's events, you get a call from the at-fault party's insurance company. You haven't even had a chance to talk to your spouse in person, let alone think about insurance claims. They start asking a lot of questions. You just want to a minute to unwind.
They ask: Did you suffer any injuries?
You don't feel like you are hurt, and your young kids don't show signs of injuries, so you tell them you are all fine.
This is your second mistake.
The insurance company is recording your statement, and you just said you were all fine. But when hours have passed and the shock has worn off, that's when your injuries might start to show themselves. Or, in worst case scenarios, your children don't yet have the language skills to verbalize their injuries. None of this will matter because they have you on record saying you are all fine.
The insurance agent later offers you a lump sum settlement, but only if you agree to not seek further damages. You weren't expecting money to begin with, so you accept the offer.
And that is your third mistake.
The insurance company isn't looking out for you or your family - they are looking out for their profits. Whatever they are offering you, you can almost guarantee it's not what you deserve.
Before you talk to any insurance agent - even your own - it's in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney who understands the process and knows what the insurance companies will do before they even do it.