What NOT to Do After an Orange County, CA Car Accident
Today is just like any other day. You hop in your car, jump on the freeway and get movin towards work. And just like every other day, there's the same slowing traffic just before you hit the 55 and 5 merge. As you begin to slow down, you catch a glimpse in the mirror and you have a sudden sickening sinking feeling because you immediately realize today is NOT going to be just like very other day.
Just as you thought, although it's not that easy to think straight right now because your head is in a swirl and you feel as if you are under water. That glimpse in the mirror flashes back to you; the driver behind looking down in his lap rather than at the slowing cars, your car, in front. The noise of the crash still reverberates in your ears.
No, today is NOT like every other day because today has started out with a car accident.
Fast forward two weeks
Fortunately for you, you read this blog post What to Do After a Car Accident in Orange County, and you followed the advice therein. Your car is in the shop being repaired, you are on your way to see your chiropractor for whiplash and concussion treatment in a rental car and things are under control.
But now you are about to be thrown a curve ball...
You get a call and the voice mail is from the other person's automobile insurance company. The claims representative (they like that term now because "claims adjuster," which implies adjusting your claim ever downward to save their company lots of money, doesn't focus study as well) says she would like to come to your house and take a statement and talk to you about your claim.
"Wait a minute," you think to yourself. I already spent half an hour at lunch talking to this woman and she took a recorded statement. What else can she possibly want?
Here's what she is trying to do:
She wants a face to face meeting with you to size you up. This claims rep is a specialist. Her job is to shake easily intimidated claimants loose in order to minimize damages to her company. She wants to look at your lifestyle, see your facial expressions and how you handle yourself because she will get an idea of what kind of trial witness you could potentially be. It's all about profiling. She's going to handle a financially stressed, twenty-something single mom in an apartment different than a middle aged, CEO living on a golf course near the beach.
In any event, at the end of the polite conversation in which promises will be made by her to take care of you, she will slide over a check (amounts vary from $200 to $3,000) and ask you to sign a release of liability form. That's the curve ball. It looks like an easy hit, but as soon as you swing, the ball jiggles and swoosh, strike!
Unless that check is a very big check with lots of numbers on the left side of the decimal point, DO NOT ACCEPT IT.
The offer by this first rep is always a very low ball offer--always. It is the reason she is there. To get you to accept a settlement that is any where from one tenth to one half the value of your actual case. And she's good at it. She probably has a 50% average or more at duping unsuspecting car wreck victims.
What you should do at this point is:
Smile, kindly slide the check back and ask for a complete offer in writing for you to consider. And tell her you do not make major decisions on the spot and to please not call that you will return your decision by mail when you are ready. Stand up, shake hands, nod to the door.
At this point, 2 weeks post-accident, you have no idea how much your medical costs will be. You may need an MRI in the next few weeks, you may need to be referred to another specialist for co-treatment, you could be one of the 40% of rear-impact car accident victims who suffer a permanent injury. You have no idea what the value of your case is, but the claims rep does. It's her business to know and she is eager and may get very aggressive to get you to accept her "kind" offer, but don't.
When you reject her offers, an interesting thing will happen: she will go away. You will receive a letter from a different claims rep who says they are taking over your file. "The closer" has failed, so now they put your file with a regular adjuster. After that, you will usually receive less calls or letters and they understand that you will not be taken advantage of easily. The new rep will try later during settlement negotiations, but that's a blog post to be written at a later time.
So what not to do after a car accident?
Do NOT Accept Any Initial Offer to Settle Your Car Accident Claim Until You Know What Your Long-term Medical Outlook is and How Much It's Worth