What to do When the Insurance Company Comes Calling
For those who have been injured in an automobile accident, the nightmare only begins at the scene of the crash; the real nightmare can be dealing with the insurance company. Tampa automobile accident attorneys hear horror stories all of the time. First, it begins will a friendly call for the sake of performing a “brief review of the claim.” The next thing you know, you get an unbelievably small quote. Here is what really happens behind the scenes following the accident.
The Day Of The Accident
As soon as the accident happens, the police are often notified. They arrive on scene and assess the injuries, along with other first responders like the fire department and emergency medical providers. Paramedics assess injuries and generally recommend a trip to the hospital. Each agency completes some form of report, from police reports, crash reports, and medical notations by paramedics. Next, if the person is taken to the hospital or goes on his or her own, there will be an emergency room report showing the nature and extent of the injuries.
At some point, whether at the scene or later in the hospital, or at home, the police may take a formal statement and try to determine what happened. Finally, if there are witnesses, the police may question them as well. These more formal investigations are usually reserved for the truly severe accidents that are criminal in nature, such as DUI-related crashes or accidents involving commercial vehicles.
The Next Few Weeks
As the accident victim is recovering at home and trying to seek medical attention, the insurance company is already hard at work determining several things. First, do we have to pay? Second, if we have to pay, how much? Finally, is there any way to shift the cost to someone else? This may seem a bit cynical; however, thousands of bad faith lawsuits – those filed against insurers for breaching their contracts – are filed every year, proving that insurance companies are not above taking money but not paying up when claims are filed. In fact, some organizations have ranked insurance companies that are the worst offenders.
Meet the SIU
SIU’s are special investigations units. These divisions of insurance companies are devoted to investigating the accident to decide who is responsible and whether there is any ground under the insurance contract for avoiding payment. The laws that regulate how insurance companies operate in Florida are very complex. Sometimes insurers will refuse to pay because the individual failed to call and file the claim within 24 hours of the accident. Other times, something as simple as tinted windows or other non-manufacturer alteration to the vehicle can be used as an excuse to refuse payment. The insurance companies know the rules very well.
These units will typically make a friendly phone call to figure out what happened. They will present themselves as an ally you can trust who is simply trying to figure it all out. It is very easy to begin telling your story freely without any thought of them being an adversary. This is a mistake. There are myriads of ways they can use your statement against you. The same is true of other parties’ insurance companies. If and when the other driver’s insurance company calls for information, you can be absolutely certain they are not calling to help you. They are trying to avoid paying as well.
What To Do When You Get The Call
This is simple. You should contact an attorney immediately, or, if you are unable, a loved one or trusted friend should make the call. If you get a phone call from the insurance, whether you have an attorney yet or not, you should take down the contact information and tell them it is a bad time. Immediately contact a skilled and experienced injury lawyer, give the lawyer the contact information and any other documentation you have, and then relax. Do not speak with anyone from the insurance companies until your attorney has advised you to do so.
If you are injured in the Tampa Bay area, you should call a local, experienced and aggressive auto accident attorney at the Romero Law Firm who can guide you through the process and take on the insurance companies for you. SIU divisions are extremely shrewd, and they know all the tricks to avoid paying for your injuries and damages. Never fight alone.