How do I deal with the Insurance Company after an accident?
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
As a personal injury attorney one of the questions that I get most often from people is, “I’ve been in a wreck, should I give a statement to the other insurance company?” I typically discourage individuals from giving recorded statements to the adverse insurance company. I think of the request for a recorded statement in the same light as the criminal context, when the police give you the Miranda warnings. Everybody has heard it, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. I think the same thing applies generally in this context. Many times, an insurance adjuster will contact you following a wreck and attempt to get a recorded statement. At the time, the recorded statement seems pretty simple and straightforward. However, as the claim or lawsuit proceeds, many times statements that are made are taken out of context. Statements that are made are used to suggest that you perhaps are at fault for the wreck yourself. Suggestions are also made at times after a recorded statement that you weren’t really injured or that you weren’t injured to the extent that you claimed. For instance, somebody might make the comment, “I’m fine” and that statement alone will be used to suggest that you weren’t really injured when the comment, “I’m fine” simply meant I’m able to get up and walk and talk. In most cases I typically discourage people from giving recorded statements to insurance companies. You are under no obligation to give a statement to the adverse insurance company. The insurance company should have a copy of the police report and any accompanying materials. So, they should have what they need to evaluate what happened in the wreck. In the event that you have been injured in a car wreck and the other insurance company asks you to give a recorded statement, I would encourage you to speak with a lawyer before doing so. That lawyer can provide you with recommendations and advice in the event that a recorded statement is appropriate.
Yes, it is important that the insurance company has been notified as soon as an accident occurs. There are several reasons why a follow up is important after an accident. In Kansas, a person should have available to them under their own policy of insurance, at least a minimum of $4500 to pay for any medical bills. So at the outset, that person should be comfortable with paying the ambulance bill and at least a portion of the emergency room bill. It is very important to timely notify and open up a PIP claim with the insurance carrier.
It is also important because many times the adverse insurance carrier is not prompt in taking care of the property damage claim. Many times if a vehicle was totaled in an accident, most people will need a loaner car as soon as possible. If a person has to pay out of pocket for a loaner car, that insurance company should reimburse that person. So it is always a good idea to contact the insurance carrier, let them know there was an accident, explain the general facts, perhaps the name of the investigating officer, what injuries occurred, and treatments received, up to present day.
We generally discourage all clients that contact our firm from communicating in any substantive way with the other insurance company. The other insurance company is not in the business of taking care of a person’s needs, rather they are in business of not paying out on most claims. We typically discourage any substantive communication with the other insurance company. Other than pertinent information, such as all parties involved in the accident, names, the insurance company, where the wreck occurred, those type of things. That is basic information that is fine to be shared. A lot of times the adverse insurance company will call very shortly after a wreck occurred and ask if they may take a recorded statement.
We discourage clients from giving any recorded statements, even though this is not in the criminal context. Our firm reminds everyone that anything they say can or will be used against that person, and the same goes for a recorded statement taken by any insurance company. The fact of the matter is that many times shortly following an accident, the full extent of someone’s injury is not known and so the comments that are made in a recorded statement are then taken out of context, when a person’s injuries are more severe than they initially thought. So our general advice is to not volunteer information to the other person’s insurance company. But do remain cooperative.
However, do not provide the insurance company with information that they are later going to use against you. One of the benefits of retaining a lawyer very early on is that the lawyer then handles all of the communication with the adverse insurance company. The adverse insurance company can no longer speak to a person once they have retained an attorney. That is another benefit of hiring a lawyer early on.
If Someone Feels Fine After An Accident But Later Starts Feeling Pain, Do They Still Have A Claim?
An insurance company my say no but yes, they most certainly do. Our recommendation is that as soon as possible following a wreck, any injuries that were sustained should be medically treated as soon as possible. When a person’s adrenaline is running, they think they are fine so they begin walking and do not appear to be in any significant pain. But then a few days later, if there is something significantly wrong, that should not be ignored and should be medically treated. This happens more frequently after the initial shock has worn off.
Whether it is a personal physician or the emergency room doctors, each person should follow up after an accident as soon as possible, especially after consistent pain sets in. Anyone can make a claim even if there is a short delay in treatment. One of the most common tactics for an insurance company is to deny a personal injury claim by using a gap in treatment. Whether it is one, two or three weeks after a wreck, they will try to argue that whatever the injuries that somebody has sustained are not related to the wreck. So the gap in treatment is an issue, which is why we recommend getting to a health care provider as soon as possible following a wreck, once injuries have been sustained.