I was just involved in a car accident, I’m injured, and I keep getting mail and phone calls from insurance adjusters. Should I call them back?
After you are involved in a car accident, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to reach out to you to discuss the accident and your insurance claims. These phone calls can come fast and furious, seemingly hours after you first leave the emergency department with a medical diagnosis. Then, in the days and weeks following the car accident, you start to receive various mailings and notices from those insurance companies.
What are your legal obligations when this happens? Are these insurance companies out to help or hurt you?
New York is a no-fault insurance state. This means that you pay insurance premiums so that you have coverage for medical expenses and lost wages, among other costs, which is available to you after a motor vehicle accident.
You can have more than one no-fault insurance carrier. For example, if you are a passenger in someone else’s car at the time of the crash, you will qualify as insured under that vehicle’s policy of no-fault insurance. At the same time, if you also have no-fault insurance coverage for your car (even if it was not involved in the accident), you could be entitled to benefits under that policy of insurance as well—if you have APIP or OBEL coverage. A car accident attorney can help you identify any available no-fault coverage.
Cooperating with the No-fault Insurance Carrier
After a car accident, you are obligated to put the no-fault insurance companies on notice of your claim. If you fail to provide written notice of claim on a prescribed form within a certain period of time, the insurance carriers may have a basis to deny your claim—assuming they had not learned of your claim through another authorized source, such as receipt of the police accident report with information stating you were injured.
You will be required to cooperate with the no-fault insurance carriers to receive benefits. The no-fault insurance carrier may ask to take a recorded statement or conduct an examination under oath, where you will provide information about the car accident and your injuries. It may also require you to attend an examination with a hired medical provider to verify that your injuries and treatment were caused and necessitated by the collision.
If in the hours or days after the collision you receive a telephone call from an insurance adjuster, it may be a good idea to confirm with the adjuster that he or she will be handling the no-fault claim. You will need to have some form of communication with the assigned no-fault adjuster in the weeks, months, and years following the car crash.
Bodily Injury Liability
All motor vehicles owned and registered in New York must have car insurance. In other words, a car cannot be registered and assigned a license plate unless there is proof of insurance. Car insurance provides different forms of coverage, but perhaps the most important type of coverage is bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage protects the insured if he or she hurts someone through the use or operation of the insured vehicle. In exchange for insurance premiums, the insurance company agrees to indemnify—or protect, so to speak—the insured up to a certain dollar amount. The state minimum dollar amount is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, but most carriers will offer coverage up to $250,000 per person and$500,000 per accident. Depending on the limits of coverage, the insurance carrier agrees to indemnify the insured up to that amount.
Nuisance Fee Offers
Because insurance companies are beholden to their shareholders and aim to maximize profits by minimizing costs, they will often attempt to have the injured person agree to a small settlement before the full nature and extent of the injuries is known. This is often done through small nuisance offers made at a time when the injured person is caught off guard. The insurance company may also attempt to obtain a statement from the injured person and take words out of context in an attempt to bolster potential defenses.
If an insurance adjuster assigned to the bodily injury liability claim contacts you after the car accident, you may want to be cautious. You are not generally obligated to provide a statement or other information.
Hurt In A Car? Call William Mattar.
If you have questions about whether you should respond to or contact a particular insurance adjuster, you should refer those questions to our injury attorneys. Our car accident attorneys at William Mattar law offices have experience helping injured people after car crashes. Do not hesitate to give us a call (844) 444-4444.