After an Accident, Should You Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?
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!
This chapter 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:
· When to provide a statement to insurance companies
· Why you should never provide a recorded statement
When to Provide a Statement to Insurance Companies
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.
· 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 time frame, seek an attorney.
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 at least 30 days. If you don’t report an accident, you could lose your coverage.
Why You Should 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, 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.
Consider this example from the O’Sullivan Law files.
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 that two weeks, Marge’s lower back and shoulder pain waxed and waned. She wasn’t sure how hurt she was. Also during that two weeks, the defendant’s insurance company contacted her and asked how she was doing. Marge responded, “I’m doing ok today. I think I’m getting better." They recorded her statement. But as time went on, she didn’t get better and she ultimately needed surgery.
Because Marge had told the insurance company during the first weeks of her recovery that she was “getting better," they refused to pay. Ultimately, the O’Sullivan Law Firm had to sue the company to get what Marge deserved.
We all pay insurance companies to take care of us when we need help, but insurance companies aren’t 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.
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