Am I Required To Notify My Insurance Company If I Am Involved In An Auto Accident?
You’re not required to notify the insurance company if you’re involved in an accident, but it is a good idea for a few reasons. You want to keep your insurance company aware of the fact that you were involved in an accident, and particularly if you weren’t at fault. In case the opposing driver contacts your insurance company and wants to make a claim against you, your company knows your side of the story. They know what happened, they know you’re not at fault, and they won’t mistakenly pay a claim that they don’t owe.
If it turns out that you are required to file an uninsured motorist claim against your own insurance company (because the person is not insured or is under insured) then it’s necessary to let them know that there was an accident, that you weren’t at fault, and that you do have damages. Most uninsured motorist insurance policies have a cooperation clause which does require that you cooperate with their investigation of the case. Which means, that you can be required to give a recorded statement explaining how it happened and what your injuries and damages are.
You should always assume, when you’re talking to an insurance company, that you are being recorded and the person speaking to you is taking copious notes. This is why it’s always important to be careful what you say and seek the advice of an attorney before you say anything to anyone’s insurance company, including your own insurance company.
Should I Notify The Other Party’s Insurance About An Auto Accident?
It’s probably unwise to notify the other party’s insurance about an accident because they are in an adversarial position to you. They are not looking at how they can help you as much as they are trying to figure out how they can defend the claim or minimize your recovery.
What Defenses Do Insurance Companies Use To Avoid Paying Out On Claims?
There are several defenses that insurance companies use to avoid paying claims. They’re going to check for a lack of coverage. They want to see if their insured has not paid their premium on time or if there’s a way they can cancel the coverage so that they don’t have to pay. The next thing concerning coverage they look at is: Did the driver of the vehicle have permission from the owner and the insured to use the vehicle? If they didn’t, they will deny coverage on that basis. The next thing they’re looking to see is if the person involved in the accident is an excluded driver under the policy, which is another way they can reject coverage. In short, the first step an insurance company takes is to figure out if there is a way they can deny coverage under the terms of the policy. If their investigation reveals that there is coverage, then they look to determine whether or not their insured is at fault or is only partly at fault.
In many cases the police reports are not instantly available and it may take a few days to be processed and available for review. Sometimes, the only information an insurance company has when a claim is presented is the information they obtained from their own insured, which may differ from what the insurer told the police at the scene. The police officer may have determined, after talking to witnesses and the parties, that it was the fault of vehicle number one. However, the operator of vehicle number one calls his or her insurance company and gives them a different set of facts. They explain to the insurance company why they are not liable. Many times insurance companies will initially deny the claim, saying that they are not at fault and have no liability. Therefore, they are not going to authorize a rental car while your car’s in the shop, or authorize repairs to your car. They are not going to do anything since they have a statement from their insured saying they don’t owe a claim.
Once you get past liability, then we get into the realm of what are your damages. Under Louisiana law your damages are all the property damage that the accident has caused to your vehicle and property. Even if your eyeglasses were broken, clothes damaged; anything that was damaged as a result of the accident. Loss of wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, physical and mental pain, and loss of enjoyment of life are all compensable under Louisiana law. However, they have to be proven. Damages that relate to physical and emotional pain and suffering have to be documented medically by health care providers who can explain what your injuries are and render an opinion that the injuries were caused by the automobile accident. One of the ways that insurance companies will deny claims is to nitpick the medical records that you provide. They’ll say, “Yes, it does show that you went to the emergency room the day after the accident, it does show that you have bruises, and a fractured wrist. But we don’t have any doctor’s report saying that he relates this to the accident.” Thus, causation of medical injuries is an area that they will use to deny claims. It’s important that you document your injuries and have a health care professional go a little bit further to explain, in their medical opinion, the injuries are associated with the automobile accident that just happened, six hours ago, six days ago, or six weeks ago.
One of the things that they will use to deny a claim for personal injury is medical documentation that occurs days or weeks after the accident. Many times people are shaken by an accident, their adrenaline is flowing, they want to get home, get their car towed to a repair shop, and figure out how they’re going to get to work the next day. They’re not thinking about what pain and suffering they’re having. They figure that will go away as the days go by. Then the pain doesn’t go away and gets worse. Then, a week or two later they seek medical attention. It’s very common for an insurance company to say, “If you were really injured from this accident then you would have gone to an emergency room immediately or seen a doctor the next day. We think the injuries that you’re now complaining about, three weeks later, have nothing to do with our accident. You must’ve hurt yourself putting out the garbage, cutting your lawn, or exercising at the gym. We don’t think they’re related to our accident.” Because of this, it’s important to seek medical attention for minor injuries immediately after the accident, just in case they persist or turn into major injuries.
For more information on Notifying Insurance Companies About Accident, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (504) 332-8188 today.
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