Is It Mandatory to Contact Insurance Carrier after an Auto Accident?

Is It Mandatory to Contact Insurance Carrier after an Auto Accident?

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If you have any type of a claim that falls under your automobile insurance policy, you should notify the insurer. If you have been hurt as a pedestrian in a vehicle accident, you still want to notify your own insurance company because you may ultimately need to make a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance, or you might need to make a claim for medical payments coverage or no-fault benefits if insured in a state that has no-fault insurance. It is always a good idea to notify your own insurance company; better to be safe than sorry.

Dealing with the Other Party’s Insurance Carrier in an Auto Accident Claim

The companies that insure the opposing driver generally take their time addressing your problems, particularly when they think their own insured is at fault. They do not rush through the process. Sequentially, the opposing insurer will go about taking a statement from its insured, and it often takes two statements. The first is an oral statement, and if the oral statement is unflattering for its own insured, it generally will not take a second recorded statement. That is a way of burying unhelpful evidence. If its insured has a helpful statement, it may send an adjuster or an investigator to the insured driver’s home and take a written statement. Sometimes it will just record a statement, asking the driver’s permission to record the statement, and then decide whether or not to transcribe it. Obviously, the unhelpful statement is only transcribed when the insurance company is compelled to do so.

Insurance companies can be devious in the way that they manipulate the evidence, particularly if the facts are unfavorable. I generally tell my clients to “get the ball rolling” with their own insurance company, particularly if they have collision coverage or if they have med-pay coverage that will respond first to the payment of their accident-related medical bills. If you get the ball rolling by having your own insurance company adjust the property damage, you can later have the other party’s insurance company also adjust the claim and pay the property damage. If your own insurer pays the property damage, you will have to absorb the deductible. If you absorb the deductible under your own coverage and it is determined the other party was “at fault,” your insurer will recover the deductible from the other party’s insurance company after either reaching an agreement or via inter-company arbitration.

While you are contractually obligated to cooperate with your own insurance company, there is no obligation to cooperate with the other party’s carrier. The adjuster for the other carrier may want to “adjust” the damage to your vehicle and may use that opportunity to talk to you about your injuries or the circumstances surrounding the car accident. Under most circumstances, I will advise my clients not to talk to the adjuster other than to facilitate access to the car. If the other carrier wants to take a statement, I usually advise to try to avoid that. Instead, I suggest that my client reference the police report – if it’s accurate. In some limited circumstance, I may permit my client to give a statement, but those are rare circumstances limited to very simple and straightforward situations.

If the police accident report contains errors, it is generally advisable to make the errors known to the investigating police officer. Some police officers may appear to be resentful that you’ve pointed out an error in the report. You should be more concerned with keeping the record accurate than hurting the feelings of the officer.

If your car is damaged and unsafe to drive, you can request a temporary replacement or rental vehicle. And if your damaged car was a Mercedes or other “fancy” or “expensive” vehicle, don’t be shy about requesting an upgrade of the rental that the other driver’s insurance company is going to underwrite.

Delaying Medical Attention Can Adversely Impact an Auto Accident Claim

There is no hard and fast rule about when it is “too late” to obtain medical attention. The later it is, the more difficult it becomes to make your claim successful. The sound thing to do is seek medical attention as soon as an injury appears. The interval between the injury, the onset of symptoms, and the first medical treatment can be a precarious time. If you are hurt, you absolutely should go and get it documented and treated. There are various conditions that do not seem very serious initially, but many injuries can get worse over time. Conditions that can worsen over time include musculoskeletal injuries, neck and back problems, and traumatic brain injuries including concussions.

The greater the interval is between the record of the complaint, the symptom or manifestation of trauma, the greater the problem can be establishing a successful claim. There can also be intervening problems, such as a subsequent accident. If you have a second accident and you have not gotten medical treatment for the first accident to create that baseline, the exisistence of overlapping injuries will likely become a nightmare.

For more information on Contacting Insurance Carrier after an Auto Accident, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (203) 325-8600 today.