Myths of Automobile Liability Insurance - Part 1 of 3
In the next three posts, I will show automobile liability insurance myths in a car accident. This first part discusses the initial claims process investigation. The second part covers the liability insurance company's role in the settlement process. The third part will discuss liability insurance once in a lawsuit. Please use this simple hypothetical as background for the discussion:
You are sitting at a red light on a clear, sunny Friday afternoon. Then all of a sudden, you are rear-ended by another vehicle. The other driver simply wasn't paying attention and didn't stop in time. You exchange insurance and license information with the other driver. The following day you call the other driver’s insurance company to report a wreck. What follows is a distinct series of events and you need to know your rights and what to expect.
You can expect a call from a claims adjuster from the other driver's insurance company within a day or so once the claim is reported. The adjuster will likely say to you that they “must” obtain a “recorded statement” or “recorded interview" in order to process the claim. They may also request a written statement from you. Why do they ask for these? For two reasons:
The first reason is to investigate the claim - a fair rationale. Although, the second reason is for the insurance company to have a record that could potentially be used against you in the future.
The first question that comes to mind is “Why would the insurance company want to do this? Isn't the insurance company is supposed to help me.” This is the first myth about the role of the other driver’s liability insurance. The other driver’s insurance company owes no legal duty to you at all - no duty to treat you fairly in the evaluation or investigation of your claim. Its sole duty is to protect and defend the other driver from your claim. It also operates as a business whose purpose is to minimize payments on outstanding claims, thereby maximizing their bottom line and profits.
The insurance company can make the business decision to ignore, negotiate, or settle your claim.
The main point is simple: As soon as possible you need to contact a lawyer. Additionally, NEVER give a written or recorded statement without first consulting a lawyer. A lawyer that handles car wreck cases will help you through the investigative stage of your case. They will also help preserve the integrity of your claim in the event a settlement isn't reached.