My parents got into a serious rear-end car accident about a week ago. They were making a left turn into a shopping complex when they got hit from behind by another vehicle. It was a moderate to severe impact that shook them up quite a bit. However, they did not feel much pain the first day.
My parents came home later in the day and found a message from the insurance adjuster for the responsible party. "Hello this is Susan from Geico Insurance. Please call me." My Dad called her right back. She started asking if they were feeling alright and if they were going to bring a claim. She insisted he give her a statement right on the spot. My Dad grew concerned and called me for advice.
I told my Dad the adjuster wasn't really interested in "how they were doing." Adjusters know that people often don't feel pain immediately after an accident - even if the accident was more serious. In some cases, the pain doesn't manifest itself until a day or two later! It's kind of like pulling a muscle or lifting more than you should - you often don't feel the effects until later.
The reason insurance adjusters call so quickly after an accident is because they are seeking a denial of injury - preferably "on the record" via a recorded statement. That's why they contact you so quickly...sometimes within hours of an accident!
About two days after the accident, my Dad called me with an update. He said that he and my mom (both in their mid 70s) weren't feeling very good. My Mom was especially in pain. She had orthopedic problems before, and this accident set her back. I later learned there was a problem - my Mom had spoken with the Geico adjuster the day before. I guess my Dad didn't relay my instructions to her.
According to my Mom, the adjuster was very friendly and insisted on knowing if my parents were hurt. My Mom said, "I told her we were fine. However, that was yesterday and today we are in pain." Guess what? If my parents try to bring a claim at this juncture, the insurance adjuster will likely use my mother's statement as a sword against them.
I reiterate, "There is NOTHING to be gained from giving a statement to the insurance company so early after an accident." There is only one reason insurance adjusters want a statement from you - to use it against you in the future.
Victims of accidents often don't realize they are hurt till a day or two after an accident. Sometimes the adrenaline or other factors may affect their awareness of the injury. Either way, prematurely denying injury is not the most prudent course of action. Even if you have an injury, there is little use in discussing it with the insurance adjuster because you have no idea what the extent of the injury is, what course of treatment will be necessary, whether you will fully heal or have to deal with residual pain for the foreseeable future, or if surgery will be necessary.
If you've been involved in serious car accident and want advice, please call my office at (661) 414-7100. I serve Santa Clarita and its communities of Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, and beyond.
When I interview clients regarding their personal injury case for the first time, I will always ask about their car insurance. First, I want to make sure they had it - if not, their recovery will be severely limited for violating California's financial responsibility laws. Second, I want to learn what coverage was available so I can best advise my clients of their options. Many of my clients will automatically say, "Oh, I had full coverage." However, few of them really know what that means. While some may consider themselves to have "full coverage," they might find out it wasn't that "full" after all.
In California, there are two kinds of auto insurance. First, the required basic coverage is what many people have. That provides $15,000 per incident to an injured party for their bodily injury, $30,000 total payments if there are more than one person injured per incident, and $5000 for property damage to another's vehicle. This is what your insurance company will pay. In some cases, you will be on the hook for the balance.
Second, optional coverage includes "uninsured motorist" (UM) and "underinsured motorist" (UIM). These two coverages are very important if the party at fault had no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your damages. Get at least $30,000/$60,000 in such coverage. I would recommend buying what you can comfortably afford because so many folks out there are driving without insurance, either deliberately or by mistakenly letting their applicable insurance policy lapse. You can also carry comprehensive and collision coverage. The amount necessary is basically determined by the value of your car. This will pay for damage to your car even if the other party had insurance. Your insurance will fix your car then go after the opposing insurance company for reimbursement. However, you may incur a deductible when utilizing your own comprehensive and collision coverage for repairs. Finally, "Medical Payments Coverage" (MPC) will pay for your medical bills in most cases, up to a certain amount - usually $2000 or $5000.
When my clients say they have "full coverage," we often learn they only have liability coverage to pay the other party for damages. They don't have UM or UIM coverage. They don't have comprehensive and collision. They don't have "medical payments coverage" which will pay for their medical bills much sooner than other avenues might pay. Also, they might have very minimal coverage but still consider themselves "fully" covered. Therefore, make sure you understand what kind of car insurance you have. Carefully examine your declarations page (the page which summarizes your coverage) with your insurance professional and ask yourself, "Can I comfortably afford more coverage?" In my opinion, medical payments coverage and UM/UIM coverage are the most overlooked options, yet they are perhaps the most important options to have.
If you need help with your personal injury case, call Robert Mansour at (661) 414-7100. Robert serves Santa Clarita and its communities of Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch and surrounding areas.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,