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.
After your car accident, you may be very flustered. However, to the extent that you can, try to document as many details as possible about the accident and any medical treatment you might need.
First, make sure you document exactly where the accident occurred. If you can, draw yourself a map to preserve your memory. Draw the locations and positions of each vehicle involved in the accident, not only before the impact occurred but also after the impact. Take photos of speed limit signs, other street signs, and other landmarks in the area that might help with a subsequent investigation. Most people take a quick snapshot of the damage to their car and that's pretty much all they do. That's like having only one piece to a puzzle, then trying to explain the complete picture to people later. Get the names and contact information from everyone involved in the accident including passengers, drivers and witnesses. If there was a police investigation, do your best to get the police report. Take photos of all damage to ALL vehicles and photos of all your injuries, but right after the accident and once a week thereafter to show how the injury is progressing (or in some cases not progressing). Finally, make sure you keep a detailed list of all your injuries and all the health care providers you've seen for the accident.
If you've been involved in a serious car accident in Santa Clarita or surrounding areas, feel free to call our office for a free consultation.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,