What If I Told The Insurance Company I Wasn’t Hurt In My Car Accident?
An insurance representative, or “claims adjuster” for the company that insures the other driver will invariably try to contact you in the hours after any automobile accident.
They will certainly ask you questions about the event. In many instances, they ask for your permission to record the interview for later use. This representative will express some level of concern for your physical well-being and invariably ask you if you sustained a bodily injury in the accident. This may seem an innocuous, or routine question at the time. However, your answer can have a disproportionate impact on your claim. My advice on how to handle these questions is to adopt a “wait-and-see approach.” By this, I mean hold off on giving a definitive answer- until you have one. Most often, one can’t have a definitive answer in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. As Attorney Eric T. Kirk will tell you.
The majority of medical professionals that I am aware of will tell you that it is a 24 to 48-hour window after a motor vehicle accident during which symptoms of injury fully manifest themselves. In the hours immediately after an accident, the body is coursing with adrenaline, and the excitement stress or outright horror of the event occupy one’s thoughts. If the occupants of a vehicle have not been rushed directly to an emergency room by an ambulance, it’s certainly possible they haven’t even seen a medical doctor or healthcare professional yet. In these instances
…..it is absolutely appropriate -and you certainly are well within your rights- to tell a claims adjuster did you simply don’t know yet if you sustained an injury. You might have, but you need time to assess and consult a doctor.
It is perfectly appropriate for you to advise you will let that adjuster know about your physical condition after you’ve had an opportunity to seek the guidance of a doctor. It is completely apposite and acceptable for you to tell a claims adjuster that you are going to wait and see how you feel tomorrow, and the next day, before making any judgments or drawing any conclusions about whether or not you sustained an injury. I often counsel people in the circumstance where you do intend to seek medical attention – don’t hesitate. There is some conventional wisdom that you have 72 hours to see a doctor. While this is not all law or a regulation or a statute that I’m aware of, it seems like a perfectly reasonable rule of thumb. If you think you’ve been injured seek prompt medical attention.
Make no mistake about the intentions of the claims adjuster that has contacted you. Their job is to minimize or eliminate your claim altogether if they can.
If you tell that claims adjuster that you were not injured they will attempt to hold you to that statement as if it was carved in stone on a mountainside. That will become the narrative of your claim. The better approach is to hold off on giving your opinion on that score until you have the medical evidence that either you have or have not sustained an injury and until you’ve had a reasonable time to assess the condition of your body in a calm and thoughtful manner.