Dealing With the Insurance Company for the Party Who Hit You
You will be contacted by the insurance carrier for the person who hit you within days, sometimes within hours, of the accident. Typically, you will receive a telephone call from a claim adjuster inquiring first about your physical condition and then requesting a recorded statement from you about what happened.
It is never a good idea to speak about the happening of the accident with the other party’s insurer, since whatever you say will be used for the sole purpose of contradicting you later in the case. At this early stage of events you are, after all, reeling from the trauma of the collision, in pain, and confused about the real motivation and role of the adjuster. It is always better to simply take down their contact information and tell them either you or your lawyer will be in touch with them in the near future.
In one memorable case, a client was released from the hospital emergency department, in a heavily medicated state, and visited at his home by an adjuster within hours. She was driving a brightly colored SUV with the name and mascot of her insurance company in banner form along the entire length of the vehicle. She told the client that since his car had only minor damage he could not possibly be seriously injured and therefore was not legally entitled to compensation. She went on to say that she could, nevertheless, make a good faith settlement of $2,500 if he would just sign a release. He did. Fortunately, I was able to get the release thrown out and went on to settle his case for slightly more than $100,000.
You should know going into this process that the extent of damage to your car has nothing to do with the severity of your injuries; that insurance company myth has been exploded repeatedly over the years by compelling scientific evidence.
What is more, it is not possible to understand the full extent of your injuries so soon after an accident, so it is therefore not possible to accurately assess the compensatory value of your injuries so early on either.
Don’t Rush to Settle
There is no rush to settle. You have three years within which to bring suit and, more importantly, it will take, at a minimum, approximately six months for your body to fully subside from the trauma of a collision so that you and your doctors know what problems you will actually be left to cope with.