What if you’re the victim of someone else’s negligent driving? Many people automatically assume that the other person’s insurance will simply step up to the plate and take care of their expenses, no questions asked. But it’s not that easy, of course, so whose insurance do you call when someone hits your car?
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Insurance companies are not on your side. Not even your own insurance company!
To illustrate this sad truth, let me share the story of a recent case that we handled:
Our client, Marge, was driving east on Colfax and she got hit from behind. Her car was totaled and Marge went to the emergency room where she had x-rays taken, received some pain medication, and was told to visit her doctor within two weeks.
Over the course of the following month, Marge’s lower back and shoulder pain waxed and waned. She wasn’t sure how hurt she was. About two weeks after the accident, the defendant’s insurance company contacted Marge and asked how she was doing. Their agent was trained to sound sympathetic and to ask questions like, “How are you doing today? I sure hope you’re feeling better.”
Marge should have been suspicious of an insurance company acting so concerned. But, like many of us, she’s a trusting person. So, she responded, “I’m doing ok today. I think I’m getting better.” The agent wrote her statement down in the company’s files. But as time went on, Marge didn’t get better and she ultimately needed surgery.
Because Marge had told the insurance company during the first few weeks of her recovery that she was “getting better,” they refused to pay. Ultimately, Marge hired us and we had to sue the company to get what she deserved.
You need to protect your interests by being cautious about providing statements.
Protect Yourself from Insurance Companies
We all pay insurance companies to take care of us when we need help, but insurance companies are not run by tender-hearted citizens who just want to make you feel better. They are corporations that want to protect their financial interests. You need to protect your interests, as well, by being cautious about providing statements.
This article will share a few of the ins and outs of how insurance companies operate after an accident and the steps you should (and shouldn’t) take if you’ve been injured, including:
- Whose insurance do you call?
- Why should you never provide a recorded statement?
- Why do you need a personal injury attorney’s help?
Whose Insurance Do You Call?
The truth of the matter is this: You need to think of the other driver’s insurance company as an adversary. They are looking to protect their interests and, therefore, they will be looking for ways to get out of their responsibility to cover your costs. Don’t give them the opportunity to do this!
Keep the following in mind when dealing with the other driver’s insurance company:
- Do not ever allow them to take a recorded statement. If they pressure you to make a recorded statement, make sure you have a personal injury attorney with you at the time.
- By Colorado law, insurance companies are not allowed to use any statement that you make within 15 days of being in care or treatment after an accident. If they try to contact you and take your statement within this timeframe, seek an attorney immediately.
As for dealing with your own insurance: You have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company and, depending on your coverage, you have a duty to report an accident within a “reasonable amount of time,” typically within 30 days. If you don’t report an accident, you could lose your coverage. But you need to remember that your own insurance company is also working hard to protect their financial exposure after an accident. Your policy may include options to pay your medical bills from your own policy (above and beyond what you get from the at-fault driver’s policy). But I’m seeing insurance companies hiding coverage from their own policyholders! Read this article for more information on the tricks that your insurance company might play after an accident. In a nutshell, you may need an attorney’s help just to get what your own insurance company owes you!
Why Should You Never Provide a Recorded Statement?
In the first few days and weeks of recovery from an accident, there is a good chance that you are on medications, disoriented and desperate to figure out how to pay the bills that are building up. Also, we’ve noticed over the years that accident victims often try to “be brave” or even polite, brushing off their injuries with statements like, “It’s not that bad,” or “I’m doing alright.” Experience shows that most accident victims have no sense of how bad their situation may be for several days, if not a few weeks.
If you provide a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company, they will try to use it against you. And, any time you talk to the other driver’s insurance company, understand that – even if they’re not recording the conversation – they are writing down everything you say. They are trying to protect themselves, not you.
Why Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney After Someone Hits Your Car?
As if the information above isn’t proof enough that you need help from a personal injury attorney after an accident, consider the following:
- You pay nothing for a personal injury attorney’s help until your case is settled. Not a dime.
- 99% of the time, a personal injury attorney can help you to get more money from both the other driver’s insurance company and from your own. So, even though you will pay a percentage of your settlement to a personal injury attorney, you will more than likely still end up with more money than you would have otherwise.
- You don’t know the law. Colorado personal injury laws are complicated, which is why there is an entire legal specialty devoted to the industry. If you don’t know the laws and wade into the fray with giant insurance companies, you will likely make mistakes that compromise your case.
- You need to heal! Do you have time or emotional resources to match wits with giant insurance companies? When you hire an attorney, it is illegal for them to call you! They must work with your attorney. The relief you will feel is palpable.
If someone hit your car and you need help with the insurance companies, call me. I’d love to chat with you and provide advice on what you should do next.