Received A Check In The Mail After Your Car Accident? 3 Reasons You Shouldn't Cash It

Posted on: 25 May 2016

If you were in an auto accident and received a small check in the mail from the other party's insurance company as compensation for your injuries, it may tempt you to take the money to avoid going through a traditional accident claim. One of the most important things you shouldn't do is cash the check and agree to any terms the insurer or its adjuster offer you. You may lose your ability to receive any medical care you need now and in the future. Here are things that can happen if you cash the check and what you should do instead.

How Can Cashing the Check Hurt You?

Although not all insurance companies do this, some will try to get accident victims to accept compensation much lower than they would if they hired an auto accident attorney or waited until their claims completed. If the accident causes you to suffer from great pain, you may not want to deal with anything else but getting well. Some claims adjusters and/or their bosses may take advantage of your pain in several ways, including mailing you a small settlement for your accident or by acting sympathetic to your plight.

The insurance company or adjuster may send the check already completed with your name and the amount they expect you to accept. There may be a letter attached to the check stating that the insurance company wants to settle the claim as quickly as possible and that it may be in your best interest to do so, because you may not receive an offer like it again. The letter may also say that you can use the check for anything, including repairing your vehicle or paying for your medical bills. 

After you receive the check, the insurance adjuster may show up at your home to see if you accept the offer. The person may bring along paperwork for you to sign that legally binds you to the agreement. One of the biggest problems with accident victims is the medical expenses they incur from their injuries. An auto accident claim allows you to receive the medical care you need without waiting for compensation from the insurer. If you accept the small settlement and sign the paperwork, you may inadvertently give up your rights to any medical reimbursements you may receive from the insurer. 

It's in your best interest to return the check and avoid signing any paperwork until you see an attorney. 

What Should You Do Instead?

An auto accident attorney may ask you to write down everything the adjuster said to you during the visit, as well as in the letter. Try to remember the adjuster's name and anything that might identify them, such as their facial features and the sound of their voice. If the adjuster has a history of bribing or intimidating claimants, and the attorney needs to take the case to court, they may ask you to identify the adjuster during the proceedings.

Additionally, be sure to tell an attorney about any harassing phone calls the adjuster made to your home after you received the check. If family and friends witnessed the harassing phones calls, write down their names for an attorney. The adjuster may try to threaten, intimidate or harass you into settling with the insurer, so you want to keep records of these encounters for your case. It may be possible to bring a separate case against the adjuster for bad faith practices. However, this is something you must talk to an attorney about during your case.

For more details or information about your possible case, contact an auto accident lawyer or a firm such as Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC today.