The odds are that you or a loved one will be in an auto accident….sometime. Now what do you do and what does the insurance company do when that happens?

You must initially KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and understand that the other party’s insurance company will immediately assign a nice sweet adjuster to contact you and pump you for information. The adjuster will try to get pictures of the vehicle and statements from you as to how the accident happened (and whether you were injured and have seen a doctor yet). Then they will switch adjusters and assign one that is not so nice.

Please understand that adjusters have their own bag of tricks. When they take a picture of the car they will ask you to get in the picture and right before clicking the pix they will ask you to bend and point to the spot of the Property Damage on your vehicle. At the last minute they yell SMILE!

Now they have you bending and smiling. Later when they get the doctor’s report that says the patient could not bend and that you were in great pain, they can argue with your attorney and the Judge “…look at this picture!” They will claim the plaintiff does not appear to have any problem bending and is even smiling. When juries see this kind of evidence they question whether you were really injured or making this up; thinking you hit the lottery.

The insurance company checks your social media so IMMEDIATLEY TAKE DOWN YOUR FACEBOOK ETC. The last thing you want is for the insurance company to see pictures of you playing a sport and or doing something physical that you should not be able to do if your injuries are consistent with the medical report.

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After you are in an auto accident use your cell phone and take pictures of the scene, damage to both cars, the other driver’s license, plate and insurance. Then use the recording feature to take a statement from the other party and any witnesses. Get the defendant’s name, address, phone number, and share your info.

Always call the police. You want as much documentation as possible about the accident for your lawyer. Stay at the scene until the police arrive. Remember you do not have to give your opinion as to liability even when you look to be partly at fault.

Go to the ER right away to be checked out. Have someone drive you if you cannot get an ambulance to take you. Many injuries do not surface right away and soft tissue injuries may take days to come out. Insurance companies punish you when you do not seek medical treatment right away. As a rule you should see any doctor other than your regular treating doctor. This is because we all have skeletons in our personal med records. This could be abortions, alcohol/ drug usage, sexually transmitted diseases and prior injuries which can be very damaging.

Lawyers do not want to accept a case where the victim did not get immediate med treatment and some lawyers demand treatment that day. In addition if you do not see the lawyer for several days they are also reluctant to accept the case because they worry you will have had a conversation with the adjuster and your lawyer will never know what you said or “what the insurance adjuster thought he heard you say.” That could be used to impeach you at trial.

Your attorney should focus on auto accident cases. Once you have retained a lawyer the defendants insurance company can no longer legally contact you.

If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact attorney Dale Gribow at 760-837-7500 dale@dalegribowlaw.com.

DALE GRIBOW

“TOP LAWYER” – Palm Springs Life-(Accidents) 2011-17

“TOP LAWYER”- Inland Empire Magazine Nov 2016

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