Interviewer: What happens when someone’s in an accident, what are the typical things that they’ll go through? Would they be contacted by insurance companies or what do they have to do the first day, the first week, the first two weeks after an accident? What should they do?
Ira Perlman: The first two weeks are crucial and unfortunately, people have a lot going on during that period of time because there’s a lot of trauma that one goes through and the trauma not only affects the individual involved in the accident but it affects the entire family. What you want to do is certainly contact a lawyer right away so you can learn what you need to do and get the guidance because very often, evidence is lost shortly after an accident. For instance, I will tell you if you’re in a car, it’s got damage to it, and a photo speaks a thousand words in terms of what happened. If somebody has a car and the car’s taken away and it goes to an auto-body shop and it’s destroyed or repaired you lose the ability to show photographs of the car, so you need to take photographs not only of the vehicle involved but you want to get photographs of the scene and maybe there are skid marks and other revealing evidence which needs to be documented.
The Role of an Adversarial Party in an Auto-Accident Claim in New York
Interviewer: What is that adversarial party? Who will contact you that you have to watch out for and who you say things to?
Ira Perlman: Obviously people that drive vehicles have insurance or at least they’re supposed to have insurance. When the insurance companies find out that their insured have been involved in an accident, they’re going to want to find out as much information as possible. Not only that, they’re going to want to protect their insureds as much as possible because it is the insurance companies that ultimately will have to pay out money for someone else’s harm and loss. These insurance companies have well trained adjusters and representatives that work for them that will often call up someone who’s been injured or harmed at a time when these people are very vulnerable and they’re not feeling well, they’re injured, they’re sick and they will ask questions.
The Insurance Adjusters May Ask Questions in Such a Manner as to Elicit Detrimental Responses from the Claimants
Sometimes these conversations will be taped and recorded and questions can be designed in such a way to elicit answers that are very detrimental to the person who has every right to bring a claim against the insured due to an accident. You can end up saying things that just don’t come out in a way where the truth is being elicited. It’s very dangerous to give a statement concerning what happened in an accident to an insurance company representative that represents the person that ultimately you may need to sue because often what you’re trying to bring across or get across isn’t what really happened and that can be very dangerous and that can be used against you later on during a case because the statement can be recorded in some fashion. So, it’s not a good idea to talk to anybody.
A Person is Not Obligated by Law to Provide a Statement to the Opposing Party’s Insurance
Interviewer: What kinds of things do these insurance companies do? Are people required to talk to the other party’s insurance company?
Ira Perlman: There is absolutely no requirement to talk to the opposing insurance company at any time. And in fact it would be a better course of action to speak to your own attorney right after an accident to get some guidance so that you know what your rights are and you know that you don’t have to talk to an opposing insurance company. But I’ve seen insurance companies use tactics to put pressure on people to talk under the auspices that a failure to do so would end up jeopardizing your rights to proceed. So, people do things across the board that are just really, really dishonest, unethical and not proper, and it’s a shame.