Imagine you are driving through an intersection with a green light. All the sudden, a big pick-up truck driving on the road perpendicular to you runs a red light. The pick-up truck hits the driver’s side of your car and spins you around until you come to a stop. Hopefully, you walk away from the crash without serious injury, but many drivers are not so lucky.
Whether or not you are injured, it won’t be long before an insurance company contacts you. If you submit a claim to your insurance company online or tell them you were involved in a crash, they will usually reach out to you within a day or two. The same goes for the time between the at-fault driver contacting his or her insurance company and that insurance company calling you.
For the most part, you do not have to give out information related to the crash to insurance companies. For your own insurance company, you may want to tell them you believe the other person was at fault for the crash in order to recover the value of your property damage quickly or obtain a rental car under your insurance contract. But if you are injured and they ask how you are, simply tell them you are trying to get treatment and are may hire an attorney who will contact them about any personal injury claim.
However, if the at-fault driver’s insurance company calls, you do not have to and should not give them your information. Reason being, they want information from you that they can use to save themselves money and place the blame on you for the crash and your injuries, not their insured driver. Here are a few examples of things an insurance company might ask you for after a crash and how to respond.
Many insurance companies have mobile apps or “easy” online programs to quickly submit documents and photos related to the accident. They may send you an e-mail asking you to create a log-in so that all your documents are in the same place. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company asks for you to do this, simply refuse. While providing photos of property damage to the cars involved is not a problem, these programs ask for much more information than that. They want to gather as much information as possible so that they can benefit themselves. Simply tell them you are injured and in the process of hiring an experienced car accident lawyer. Once you hire a lawyer, let the lawyer exchange the necessary documents with the insurance companies.
Giving access to medical records and bills
If you are injured, the insurance company may ask that you sign a HIPAA release. This is a document that allows them to access your medical bills and records. Regardless of who’s insurance company asks, tell them no. They may tell you that they need it in order to pay your medical bills, but they rarely use that information to pay you or offer you their full value. Instead, this HIPAA release allows them to request records from every medical provider you have ever sought treatment with—related to the crash or not. Then, they take what information they find (like a similar prior injury) and argue that is the reason why you should not get full compensation for your injuries. At that point you start your injury claim with the insurance company having already made up their mind not to pay you.
If you do sign a HIPAA release, it is not permanent. The law allows you to rescind the permission you gave to the insurance company at any time. However, if they have already gathered your medical records up to that point, there is not anything you can do to regain your privacy.
You may be asked to give a “recorded statement” about how the crash happened and what your injuries are. When asked, the first question that should come to your mind is who is asking for the statement. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company is asking for the statement, your answer should be a resounding “no.” You do not benefit from giving them a statement at this point in your claim. Their goal is lock you into saying something that may hurt your claim down the road.
If your insurance company asks for a statement, you may be required to give it to them in order to recover. However, you do not have to give the statement at that very time. You should consult with a lawyer to prepare you for the type of questions they may ask and protect your interests.
The bottom line is this: insurance companies are not on your side after a crash. Yes, your insurance company may pay for your property damage quickly, but all insurance companies no matter who they insure are trying to save themselves money. If they can get information from you or get you to agree to something that benefits them before you have an attorney present, they will do it.
If you were injured in a car accident, it is important that you receive a consultation from a personal injury lawyer prior to giving the insurance companies any information. The insurance companies are professionals at deflecting responsibility for car accidents. You need an experienced car accident attorney like the ones at Rafi Law Firm to guide you through your claim process and get you the money you deserve.