This is a guide for the average person to handle a minor personal injury case on their own.
Never Admit Fault
It’s easy to want to apologize at the scene of an accident. An apology alone is fine. It’s when you elaborate on your apology that you get yourself into trouble. A simple “I’m sorry this happened” will communicate you’re a decent human being without forfeiting any of your rights.
Never Give a Recorded Statement
The insurance company is going to come at you loaded for bear. One of the first things they’re going to do is try to get you to do a recorded statement. Unless it is your own insurance, you have no obligation to provide a recorded statement. In fact, you definitely should not. The insurance company’s goal is to set you up to make you look like a liar later. Don’t give them the opportunity.
Go Straight to the Doctor
Odds are, you’re not a medical professional. The body is a very sensitive machine. Sometimes it takes a while for injuries to manifest. Sometimes a medical professional will be able to identify an issue that isn’t even apparent to you yet. For your own safety, and the integrity of your claim, go see a doctor right away. Usually an Urgent Care visit is just fine. You’ll probably get x-rays, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatory medication. They’ll likely recommend you follow up with your primary doctor. However, if the x-ray or physical examination reveals something more serious, you might be sent to the Emergency Room.
After your initial visit to urgent care, follow up with a chiropractor. By this time, you’ll probably be feeling sore. Let the doctor give you adjustments for a few months to see if your symptoms improve. If they do, then it’s time to demand your case.
Do Not Give Medical Authorizations to Car Insurance
After you’ve finished your chiropractic treatment, you’re going to have to write yourself a demand. The first step in doing so is obtaining your own medical records and bills. You can get them from the urgent care and chiropractic office you visited. Make sure you block out all of your health insurance payments and information. The car insurance company is going to act like they’re entitled to your health insurance information. In a pre-litigation setting like you’re in, they are not.
Write a Demand
Write a short demand that’s to the point. Describe your pain and suffering, but don’t draw it out too much. They need to know what time it is, not how the clock is made. Make your demand time limited — I like to give them two weeks to accept it. Demand the policy limits. List your medical bill dollar amounts. Attach copies of your records and bills.
Don’t Talk to the Adjuster on the Phone
The adjuster is going to try to call you and tell you all kinds of lies about all the reasons he or she cannot respond to your demand. Let the calls go to voicemail and wait until the demand expires to talk to them. If you send them a demand and they ignore it or don’t accept it within the stated time, you need to talk to a lawyer. Depending on the circumstances, a lawyer can give them a sound spanking for that and make them really pay.
If you’ve tried to handle your case on your own and you feel like you’re in over your head, give us a call at Cefali & Cefali! We’d be happy to give you some free advice or get you out of a jam.