If you need to file an injury claim against an insurance company in Los Angeles after a car accident, contact us today for a free, friendly, confidential consultation and case evaluation.
Motor vehicle accidents happen every day, and with them comes the insurance claim process. If you’ve never been in an accident before, there’s much to learn.
Call 911 for police and paramedics
Always call 911 after an accident. Don’t get talked out of it. Ask for police and paramedics to come to the scene. The paramedics will treat you there, and then they’ll transport you to the nearest emergency room. Don’t delay on getting medical treatment. Waiting can hurt your claim. The investigating officer will make a written report about the accident, and the insurance companies involved will rely heavily on its content.
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Report the accident to your insurer
You should report the accident to your insurer, even if you have no (present) intention of filing a claim with them. You don’t know if the person who hit you really has insurance. He or she might have been cancelled recently, and you might have to make a collision and uninsured motorist claim with your own insurer. Every insurer has time limitations within which an insured person is required to report an accident. If you fail to give your insurer timely notice, it could walk away from any claim that you might make because you impaired its ability to make a complete investigation. A phone call reporting the accident, and an immediate email or letter confirming the phone call should be sufficient. Pursuant to the terms and conditions of your policy, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurer. As opposed to the insurer of the person who hit you, give your insurance company all of the information that it seeks. Do not speak to the other party’s insurer, especially if there are serious injuries involved.
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Never give a statement to the opposing insurer
The adjuster assigned to your claim might contact you a few days after the accident “just to see how you’re doing.” He or she might then ask you to give a recorded statement. Never give the opposing insurer any type of written or oral statement without an attorney being present. The law doesn’t require you to give a statement under those circumstances, and the opposing insurer is only going to try to use that statement against you in the future. By giving a statement, you’re giving up rights that you might not ever get back. If the adjuster threatens to deny your claim unless you give a statement, tell him or her that you’ll just let the courts decide the issues in the case, and then come see us.
Supporting your claim
One of the most important things that a person who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident can do to support their claim is to start treating for their injuries immediately. That includes paramedics at the scene and emergency room treatment immediately thereafter. Paramedics will make a record of subjective symptoms and objective findings. That starts the history of medical records to support an injury claim. At the emergency room, you’ll be examined thoroughly, and more specific medical records will be generated too. Follow up shortly after that with any specialist that you’re referred to. If you want to see your own doctor, he or she might refer you to a specialist. If a specialist refers you for therapy, attend all of your appointments. If that specialist refers you to another specialist, go see that other specialist. Insurance companies look for missed appointments or gaps in treatment, and they try to exploit them. Don’t give the opposing insurer any reason to imply that you’re faking or malingering. That’s when your credibility becomes an open target.
Medical bills and records
The opposing insurer will evaluate your damages through your medical bills, records and reports from the various physicians that you see. All of these should be forwarded to the adjuster on your case in an organized and coherent fashion. If the insurer senses that you’re not paying enough attention to your claim, it won’t pay much attention to it either.
Can one insurer be worse than another insurer
Indeed some insurance companies are worse than others. When you’re on the opposing side of a claim, you’re not in good hands, and you’re not with a good neighbor either. No nationwide insurance company is on your side. Some insurance companies that you believe are reputable will purposefully delay your claim. Then they might deny it, and they defend any lawsuit that you might bring. At least two of the largest insurers in the country have adopted the delay, deny and defend strategy on claims management. Delaying and denying serves two purposes. First, the insurer is able to move funds into the anticipated loss column. Doing so operates to mitigate its ultimate loss on the claim. In and of itself, delaying the processing of claims operates to frustrate and exhaust claimants who might ultimately settle for less than the value of their claim. With the denial, some of them simply walk away, and the insurance company never hears from them again. Those are the same companies that complain about a litigious society and clogged court systems. Then they lobby legislators for tort reform to increase their profits.
What if we have the same insurance company?
In a perfect world, the insurer would handle both claims in a fair and reasonable manner. Unfortunately, it’s the insurance company’s goal to maximize premium payments and minimize losses. That’s part of its obligation to its shareholders. When both parties have the same insurer, it’s the duty of the insurer to avoid the appearance of impropriety and a conflict of interest. Two separate adjusters are assigned, and they process he two claims separately. If there’s a disagreement on liability or damages, the two adjusters must act like two separate insurance companies. This is the point when unethical claim handling and profit motive might override fair and responsible resolution of a claim.