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Insurance Contact After Your Collision

In all probability, one of the first things that will happen if you have the misfortune of being involved in a collision is that you will be contacted by an insurance adjuster. This is normal operating procedure for the insurance companies. It is important to understand that they have very specific goals in mind when they contact you. Whether it is your insurance company or the insurance company representing the other driver(s) involved in the collision, they obviously want to know what happened, and that is understandable. If the contact is from your insurance company, there is less danger of a misstep, but bear in mind that if the situation develops into one where you pursue a claim under your insurance policy's uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, then whatever you tell the adjuster, even though they are from your own insurance company, can come back to haunt you. If that is true when dealing with your own insurance company, then it should be readily apparent that when you are contacted by the insurance company for the other driver(s) then plainly what you tell them will be construed by them as adversely to your position or claim as possible. The insurance companies may deny that they do this, and say that they are just trying to "get your version," but that is simply not true. It becomes even more problematic if you have been injured, because the adjusters, through training and experience, know how to ask questions in such a way that suggest your answers, and don't think for a minute or second that they are doing it in any manner that would promote your position or benefit you. Their job is not to help you, and you don't sign their pay check, do you?
Now, certainly I'm not suggesting that you misstate, make up facts, or lie. That would be wrong, and is one of the major problems with the system. But the fact of the matter is, you probably don't have the training or understanding of exactly what facts about your collision or your injuries are important. Many small details, if not properly stated, preserved, or otherwise addressed, can later become very big details, and if possible the insurance company will use them to undermine your claim. This is true not just about facts about how the collision happened, but also about how you are physically doing.
There is a human tendency in most people to understate their injuries, and most of us do it all the time. We recognize that when we're asked in polite conversation how we're doing, that the person isn't actually asking us to give a detailed account of every physical feeling or symptom that we might be experiencing at that moment. The usual response is something along the lines of, "I'm fine." And there is a tendency for many people to respond along the lines of downplaying problems. An example of this might be someone that is experiencing neck and back pain may describe it in rough detail, and then gratuitously add something like, "but it's no big deal." Fact of the matter is, the person saying that will, in all likelihood, think that it is a big deal, but either doesn't want to appear like a "cry baby," or expects the pain to go away shortly. After all, who hasn't worked too hard in the yard, and the next couple of days, have some neck or back pain that goes away comparatively quickly? Injuries that a person receives in a collision are usually quite different from these types of transitory and short term problems. The insurance adjuster knows that, but most people do not.
Exaggerating injuries is the opposite of down playing them. This can also be a major problem, and the adjuster is highly trained to later use the exaggerations against the claimant.

Bottom line, you are probably well advised to keep the conversation with the adjuster for your insurance company to a bare bones minimum,give an honest account of what happened, and a general description of what your injuries are, but leave out going into great detail, and avoid dramatic descriptions, either down playing the problem or exaggerating it. If the police have come and taken a report, then there is really no genuine need for you to talk to the insurance company for the other person(s) involved in the collision, other than to tell them, in the broadest terms, what happened and what your physical injuries are. The only reason why they will want to record your conversation is to lock you in to your answers, and there is absolutely no benefit to you to allow them to record your conversation. And always bear in mind that the insurance company for the other driver will do their best to take what you tell them and spin it in such a way that it benefits their insured. That is to whom their obligations are owed, and they are definitely not on your side.

If you have been injured in the collision, the insurance adjuster may, in addition to trying to obtain information, suggest that it is in everybody's best interests to quickly settle the matter, and get on with their lives. Nothing, and I really positively do mean NOTHING, could be further from the truth! Many types of injuries are subtle, and may not be found or diagnosed for a very long time. I have literally had people come into my office that have had a fractured vertebra in their neck (a broken neck!) that is causing worsening pain in their neck, and progressively worsening tingling and numbness down one of their arms, and they ask me if I can help them,after they've settled their case for a few hundred dollars. There are only a very few limited situations where I can help get an injured person fair compensation from the wrong doer after the person has signed a release of all claims. (I talk about releases in another blog.) Do not sign a release unless you absolutely and positively are certain of the consequences of signing it, and what you are giving up in return for the settlement. If you have any doubts, have an experienced lawyer look it over and explain it to you.

If you've been injured in a collision, even if it doesn't seem very severe, you are well advised to talk to a lawyer, before talking to the insurance company, and most assuredly, BEFORE even thinking about settling any claim. Most attorneys that handle personal injury claims are happy to talk with you, and even if it turns out that they don't think they can represent you, most will give you advice that will help you in handling the matter on your own, and most will not charge you anything for a short consultation.
Remember, who does the insurance adjuster work for? How does the insurance company make money? How does the adjuster earn rewards or bonuses?

To discuss your case with me, contact my office as soon as possible. As an experienced personal injury attorney, I am well-equipped to represent your rights before an insurance company! Our firm has handled significant personal injury cases, obtaining excellent results for our former clients. Call us at 909-927-5359 to get started!

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