In this the last step, I'm going to talk about the two biggest mistakes that I see people make after car accidents. If you can avoid these mistakes, it will save you a lot of frustration and money in your car accident claim.
Mistake 1: Recorded Statements
The first mistake most people make is giving a recorded statement. Many times the insurance adjuster will call you up and ask if they can take a recorded statement. The answer to this request depends on which insurance company the adjuster is calling from.
If it is your own insurance company calling, you are required to give the adjuster a statement. If you look at your insurance policy there will be two sections that apply to this situation. The first provision is that YOU have a duty to cooperate. The second is the policy provision that gives YOUR insurance company the right to take YOUR statement as often as it finds it necessary.
Do not get confused. If the same insurance company, like State Farm or Allstate or Progressive or GEICO, insures you and the other driver, you need to ask the adjuster what claim he is handling. If the adjuster is handling the other driver's claim, you are under no duty give him a statement.
Car accident victims get in trouble two different ways with sworn statements. First, they speak without thinking their answer through. When an insurance adjuster or a lawyer inspects the person's statement, we pick apart each word. Speaking without thinking can give the adjuster ammunition to deny YOUR claim.
When we talk to our friends and family members they do not hold us to our specific words. Say, the issue in YOUR case is whether you could have avoided the crash. The adjuster may ask you the question; “how long before the impact did you see the other car?” She is asking you the time interval from first seeing the other vehicle to the crash.
In your mind it was a short period of time, maybe a split second but you answer a “minute” because that is also a short time. However, if you were traveling 30 mph that is 44 feet per second so in a minute you would be have traveled 2640 feet. The insurance adjuster will take the position that you had plenty of time avoid the crash if you were paying attention.
Once this statement is recorded you are NOW going to have to live with your words forever. When the adjuster denies responsibility for the accident and you try to amend or explain your answer, you will lose credibility and possibly LOSE YOUR CLAIM.
The second area where statements kill car accident claims is with injuries. Often, when the insurance company calls, the car accident victim doesn't know the nature and extent of his injuries.
Here is another real life example. A guy hurts his neck and wrist in a car accident. He goes the emergency room and the doctor orders an x-ray. The x-ray shows that he has a broken wrist. The wrist is the only problem the ER staff treats. The wrist is wrapped and he is told to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon who puts the patient in a cast. The insurance adjuster calls the guy and he agrees to a sworn statement. Based on the series of events, the only injury in the forefront of his mind is his wrist. He only tells the adjuster about the wrist injury.
The guy's wrist heals; he stops the pain meds and then realizes that his neck is still hurting. The guy ends up having neck surgery and the insurance company denies the claim because he did not mention a neck problem in the sworn statement.
In my experience, nothing good ever comes from giving a sworn statement to the insurance company in a car accident claim.
Mistake Two: Medical Releases/Medical Authorizations
The next mistake that I see people make is giving the insurance company a blank medical authorization and the names of all doctors for the last 10 years or so. This is an overreaching request. Odds are there is irrelevant information in the medical records that has nothing to do with the injuries claimed in the accident. The problem is that the insurance adjuster can use this irrelevant information against you.
Here is one short example. A woman experiences periodic depression. Her medical record documents that the patient would get depressed when she was put in a confrontational position. The insurance adjuster may use this information by being confrontational with the victim because she knows it will make the process uncomfortable, and the victim may take any settlement figure to get the process finished.
If you are going to handle your own car accident claim, you should be aware of these issues. One way to protect your confidential information is to provide the insurance adjuster with a specific release for each doctor and/or hospital. Do not provide a blank release. Also, you can limit the scope and timeframe in the release. Finally, you can require the adjuster to provide you with a copy of each and every record she obtains with the release. This way, you will know the specific records the insurance company received and what information is contained within the records.
The personal injury claims process can be difficult and tedious. If you have followed these five steps in this REPORT you have at least taken the steps to protect yourself from the insurance company. If you avoid the common mistakes that injury victims make, the insurance company will not be able to take advantage of you, and you will be in a position to get a full, complete, and fair recovery for YOUR injuries.
If you have any questions about any of the five steps that I have given you, you can always give me a call at (219) 874-4878. Click the link if you would like to download a free copy of my book that goes into much more detail about the Indiana car accident claims process.