Interviewer: What actually happens to people when they get into an accident? What are some of the behaviors you’ve seen insurance companies engage in?
Roy Comer: As the insurance companies see it, they are just doing their job. But when dealing directly with the insurance company, in my experience, from the injured person’s perspective, those companies want to minimize any payments. One way I’ve seen insurance companies try to do this is to call an injured person hoping to catch get an unguarded, unprepared person. Maybe that injured person is not sure of where to turn to next and is not sure who to talk to. The insurance representative attempts to obtain concessions in a recorded statement such as, “Yes, I’m not hurt that bad”, or “Yes, I don’t think I need to go to the doctor”, or “I’m just taking aspirin and that seems to handle my pain”. If the insurance representative can get any concession like that, it is easy to see how that will be used against a person who did not realize how serious their injuries were at the time of that statement. The insurance company is going to use this information later if there is any claim. Many times, injuries don’t really manifest themselves for weeks or even months. An injury to the spine is particularly difficult to diagnose early in the healing process.
Insurance Companies Look for a Statement Suggesting Minor Injury from the Claimant and Use it Against Them
So, it can really affect the value of a claim if someone tells the insurance company adjuster in the recording that they are not hurt that bad and then that injury later turns out to be much worse than anticipated. As an example,I had a recent case where a client didn’t make the mistake of talking to the insurance company representative. She knew that her neck was hurt, but she didn’t know how severely. As she progressed through treatment,things started to get worse and worse. The nerves were pinched in her neck and she started to have pain radiating into her arms. She had a difficulty picking up a pencil; she would drop a cup of coffee when she picked it up. She went to consult with the right doctor, the doctor did the right tests, and it turns out she needed to have neck surgery as a result of that collision. That doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen enough that it gives one pause to say to themselves, “I think that I should wait to determine what the true extent of my injuries are before I say to anyone that I’m going to be just fine.”
It is Very Important to Hire an Attorney that is Familiar with Medical Practices
Most of the time, the injured person is going to be just fine without extensive medical care or surgery. But, if the previously mentioned client had settled her case early on for $10,000, which was the original offer, she would never have had the compensation that was truly due to her for the neck surgery and rehabilitation that she had to go through following the crash. So, it is important to have a lawyer that knows medicine. I’m not a medical doctor, but I’ve studied anatomy and the causes of injury enough that I can talk competently with my client’s doctors. I can assist my clients in finding the appropriate physician right off-the-bat who can manage the case economically and efficiently so that the injured person gets no more care than they need, but no less.
It is Generally a Mistake to Give a Statement to the Other Party’s Insurance Company and Expect Fair Treatment
Interviewer: Is it a mistake for people to give a statement to the other party’s insurance company? Don’t they have to cooperate?
Roy Comer: People who do give statements to insurance claims representatives usually don’t know any better;they are trusting. Generally speaking, that’s the better way to live your life as (opposed to being a suspicious person all the time). There is a time and a place to be cooperative, but in my experience, the insurance company is not taking the statement to help the injured person. When you’ve been in an automobile collision, and when the insurance company’s job is to minimize your injuries and minimize the amount of money that it is going to pay, it is not inclined to treat you to a generous settlement offer. The insurance company representatives will be polite, they’ll be courteous but they’re not your friend. They have no obligation to help you or make sure you get fair compensation for your harms and losses.