Drivers and passengers in moving vehicles regularly get injured in low speed, low impact collisions. The best example is a rear-end collision while in slowly moving traffic. Many times, the injuries are soft tissue injuries, like neck injuries, that are hard to diagnose and take time to treat. Insurance adjusters, whether independent or company adjusters, have a difficult time believing that you could have gotten injured in a low speed, low impact car wreck.
They think you’re lying.
So, if you’ve had a car wreck that could be considered low speed or low impact, know that the adjuster is going to start out at best skeptical, and at worst committed to proving that you weren’t injured.
Low speed accidents are self explanatory. But if you're traveling at 45 mph and are struck by car going 55 mph, there's only a 10 mph difference between cars, so that's low impact.
Back in October 2004, I had a rear-end collision accident. The driver behind me wasn’t watching carefully when we slowed before a red light, and he struck me from behind. The impact drove my car’s front bumper into the car in front of me. The driver behind me got a ticket. The collision damage totaled $3,474.13, and my soft tissue neck injuries settled for $2,640.00, for a total of $6,114.00.
There is a lot more to the story than just that I got a settlement. I actually got $1,640.00 more than my insurance company initially offered. These are strategies you can learn.
But let’s get back to your accident. If you got rear-ended, the other driver is at fault to some degree. If he is uninsured, or if his insurance company will not accept liability, you might consider submitting a first party claim. If you’re making a first party claim, which is you making a claim to your own insurance company, your Collision coverage will cover damage to your car. That’s pretty clear-cut. Your injuries will be covered by your health insurance, not your car insurance. Your insurance company will then “subrogate,” or ask the other driver’s insurer to reimburse them for your claim.
The adjuster for the other driver is going to do an investigation, consisting of:
1. Photos of all four sides of your vehicle to document the damage, but also to determine if there was pre-existing damage.
2. Vehicle appraisal of damages
3. Recorded statement from you. The other adjuster is going to ask you questions meant to get you to say something that could allow them to deny your claim. Understand that you do not have any legal obligation to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s adjuster. If you decide to grant a recorded statement, ONLY do it in the presence of your own attorney. And, you should include your attorney’s bill in your insurance claim.
4. Witness interviews and statements.
5. Background information. The adjuster will run your name through several databases, including ISO Claimsearch and the National Insurance Crimes Bureau to see if you’ve filed previous insurance claims. Don’t give your Social Security number to the adjuster. That just makes his job of getting your background information easier.
6. Collect your medical bills and medical history. The adjuster will likely present you with a Medical Authorization Form for your signature. READ THIS FORM VERY CAREFULLY!! Most times, the form is so vaguely worded that you give them permission to collect medical information for your entire lifetime. Only sign an authorization that permits them to have the medical records and bills for this single incident, not your life history. Have your attorney read the form before you sign it.
7. Have experts evaluate your damages. The reason insurers hire experts is to find ways to deny or minimize claims, not help you prove your claim.
8. Waiting and delay. The greatest tool in the hands of the insurance companies is delay. They can certainly afford to wait, even though you may not be able to wait. Delay leads to compromise and compromise very often leads to lower claim settlements.
9. Negotiate your settlement with you or your attorney. Please understand that adjusters are not intimidated by personal injury attorneys. They actually prefer to deal with them, since they won’t have to deal with you anymore. It also adds more delays to the claims process, which puts financial pressure on YOU.
10. Settlement. Low speed/low impact claims usually have a low price tag, many times below $25,000. It doesn’t usually make economic sense for a personal injury attorney to litigate a case this small, as it could cost them $5000-$10,000 to litigate. So, if the adjuster makes a “take it or leave it” offer of $15,000 (on a $25,000 case), your attorney will likely take it. That saves a ton of money for the insurer, and the adjuster gets to close another file and look good to his boss.
Remember, friends...this claims process is all about the money. It is not about truth, or justice, fair or unfair claims practices.
It is all about the money.
If you have experienced a property loss, whether fire, wind, flood or other, you need to know winning insurance claim strategies. The insurance company will not tell you the claims process, but I will. I will show you how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, go to the website listed here.