UNDERSTANDING HOW INSURANCE COMPANIES OPERATE IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT CASE
With auto accidents, several things begin to occur almost immediately after the accident that can make a victim’s head spin; first, the at-fault party’s insurance company will, within days of the accident or even sooner, begin to call the injured party and ask for recorded statement from them on the phone about what happened.
The worst thing they can do is to give a recorded statement to the other person’s insurance company until they talk to and retain an attorney, who may or may not allow them to give a recorded statement, although they’ll usually advise against it, until after they’ve organized aspects of the claim and coached the client, and even then, only with the attorney present.
When the other party’s insurance company contacts them for a recorded statement, they’ll ask questions in a way that attempts to minimize the responsibility of their insured and try to open up another front against the accident victim, to make them seem at fault and therefore cancel out any type of recovery. They will ask questions that seem innocuous, such as, “Good morning, how are you?” hoping that you’ll answer like everyone else and say, “I’m fine, how are you?” That’s on a recorded statement, however, so later on in the claims process, they have the victim a day or two after the accident saying, “I’m fine.” The pitfalls of giving a recorded statement to an insurance company are numerous and unfathomably deep, so don’t do it.
The second issue is that of your own insurance company in an auto accident, because you have an obligation to call them anytime you’re in an accident, whether it’s your fault or not, because you have a contract, and they need to know about the history of everything related to your car. More importantly, if the other driver does not have insurance or they’re underinsured, you’ll need them to cover the claim. Everyone in the state of Virginia carries uninsured motorist coverage just in case, but if you don’t report the accident in a timely fashion to your company; you can lose the right to uninsured motorist coverage, so contact them immediately.
In terms of moving forward from the accident, liability has to be established, so the insurance company will look at the police crash report, talk to the police officer and talk to their insured, talk to any witnesses and from all of that, will determine if they’re going to accept the liability and pay a claim on behalf of the party who is not at fault. That process can take the insurance company several weeks or months, but after that, it’s a matter of the personal injury attorney, on behalf of their client, staying in touch with the other insurance company, giving them periodic reports about their client, including their treatment status and their injuries.
Once their client has finished treatment related to the auto accident, the attorney will get all of the medical bills, medical reports, prescription receipts; everything out-of-pocket expense incurred that’s related to the accident, and submit a claim to the other party’s insurance company. They will then negotiate with that insurance company and try to get a settlement the client and the insurance company are satisfied with. Most cases settle out of court, although some go to trial.