What should I do or not do after an accident if I plan to file an injury claim?
Herb: The person involved in the car accident should never speak with the insurance company. Have someone else file the claim and make the calls for you. Better yet, if injured, wait until you retain a car accident attorney to help you and let be your mouthpiece. There is no reason for you to speak with the insurance company.
If you have to make the call, I’d recommend that you not give a recorded statement. Whatever you say on the recording will be held against you. You may not understand a question and give an answer that when taken out of context may show that you were partially at fault. There is no going back and fixing that once it is done.
I always recommend you speak with an attorney. We give free advice to potential clients every day on accidents. The more you learn, the better off you will be when dealing with the insurance people.
Also, even if you’re shaken up and you have minor injuries or you’re not sure, we always recommend seeing a doctor, your family doctor. Just go in for a checkup. A lot of clients come in two, three weeks later and they say their knee hurts or their back hurts or the pain didn’t go away, whatever it may be. The longer you wait, the more likely the insurance company’s going to deny your claim, and say that since you waited so long for treatment, you probably weren’t injured in the accident. Maybe you got hurt at home falling, shoveling snow, hurt your back doing yard work, whatever it may be. They’re going to argue that do to the long delay you cannot prove that the injury is from the accident.
If you go in initially and get a checkup at urgent care or with your family doctor, at least you’re creating a chain of events or you’re showing them that you were hurt after the accident, even if it took weeks for the pain to get worse and get follow-up treatment. You did have some discomfort at the time, which was related to your subsequent problems.
We get a lot of phone calls from people who have waited 2-3 weeks before seeking any medical attention. The insurance companies love that because they know when you go to court, it’s very difficult for a doctor to say that those injuries are definitely related to that accident with such a long lapse in time.
What makes people wait to get treatment?
Herb: Some people just procrastinate and think they are going to get better. Others procrastinate because they don’t have health insurance, or they don’t want to pay the co-payments or deductible required by their health insurance. While this is understandable to us, when it comes to car accidents and insurance companies, toughing it out and waiting a few weeks is not the way to go. We will try to find them coverage on their own policy to temporarily pay for their care or find a physician that will wait until the case settles to have their bill paid.
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