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Injured in a car wreck? Don't make these mistakes

A serious car accident can turn your entire world upside down in an instant and leave you out of work, struggling with injuries and juggling a load of unexpected bills all at once.

One more challenge you'll face is the fact that the insurance companies involved in your case probably won't exactly have your best interests at heart. Sure, the adjuster who calls may sound genuinely concerned about your well-being and utterly sympathetic to your plight -- but don't lose sight of the fact that he or she has a job to do. That job is to save the insurance company money -- not protect your interests.

Here are three common mistakes people make when dealing with insurance companies after a car accident:

1. Talking -- on the record -- to an insurance company too soon

Right after a bad car accident, you may be badly shaken. It may be hard for you to gather your thoughts or immediately recall the events as they happened. You may not even know the full extent of your injuries. If the insurance adjuster wants to record you, politely decline. You aren't obligated to give any formal statement right away.

2. Signing a broad waiver or release of information

Obviously, your medical records following the accident will have a big impact on your claim and eventual settlement -- but the insurance company may try to dig through your old medical records looking for "pre-existing conditions" or other reasons to downplay your injuries or deny your claim. Don't sign anything that isn't appropriately limited.

3. Accepting a quick, low settlement offer

The insurance company that ends up paying your claim may make a quick settlement offer -- but you can bet it won't be nearly in the ballpark of what you really deserve. A quick settlement benefits the insurance company -- not you -- because you'll sign away all your rights once you take it.

It's generally far more prudent to call an attorney before you talk to any insurance company following a serious car accident. You can save yourself a lot of additional stress, worry and hassle in the end.

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