Currently in West Virginia, the insurance companies are changing their approach on how adjustors handle the claims of persons involved in automobile accidents. When someone is in an accident, it is not something that they want in their lives. Often, it is the first time they may have a claim that involves injury to themselves or to a loved one. They are looking for help and are fearful that if they contact an attorney that it may be viewed negatively or could cost them.
Some unethical adjustors take advantage of this situation. They contact victims in their hospital rooms and obtain statements while they are under medication or at their homes when they are still reeling from the accident and confused. If an adjustor has treated someone improperly a complaint can be filed with the insurance commissioners office.
Most people do not know that they can contact a lawyer free of charge with answers to what appears to be a confusing issues. First, you do not have to talk to an adjustor. Although the adjustor may appear to be kind, his or her’s primary concern is protecting their employer, the insurance company. They will do this by negating or eliminating liability on their insured and by minimizing your injuries. An adjustor will do this under the guise of obtaining an interview which will be recorded, often when you are not in the emotional state to give one. You do not have to give a statement to or talk to an adjustor. Often after an accident a person will not know the full extent of their injuries and will tell an adjustor “I think I’m ok” when in reality they are not.
Second, you do not have to sign any papers for the adjustor or insurance company. Some adjustors will try to get an injured person to sign a medical release so they can obtain your confidential medical records. There is not a requirement for you to sign a medical release. In fact, the HIPPA requirements were developed to protect your right to privacy regarding your medical treatment. Some companies store these records in a database which they will use without you consent.
Finally, the most important thing for you to do after a car accident is to seek the medical attention that you need. This is no time to be stoic. If you do not go to the doctor, the insurance company will later say you were not hurt. People in West Virginia our self-sufficient and often try to tough it out hoping they will get better. However, later when they are still suffering injuries from a car accident, the insurance company will use this delay in treatment against them.
Today the world is a more difficult place than we grew up in and unfortunately adjustors for insurance companies do not treat the injured person fairly. If you are injured, get the treatment you need, do not give statements or medical releases to the insurance company. If an adjustor calls, tell him or her not to call you, that you will call them when you have recovered from your injuries. The most important thing you can do is to contact a lawyer who can tell you about the claims process. Remember, insurance companies have attorneys giving them advice, shouldn’t you have one advising you.