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Navigating Insurance Claims

After an injury, the most important thing is to heal and put your life back together. Regretfully, what often happens is that an injured person becomes overwhelmed with the technicalities of dealing with insurance companies. Your own insurance company and the insurance company from the party that hurt you are calling repeatedly asking you to give statements and asking you to sign forms that give them unlimited access to your medical records, even medical records that have nothing to do with your injuries. Some auto insurance companies demand that you see their medical examiner to prove that you were really hurt. You may be dealing with insurance companies trying to negotiate you down from a fair settlement for your property or car that was damaged in the accident.

Added to that, your own health insurer may call with potential bill disputes or make a claim for reimbursement for health payments it made on your behalf. Likewise, the hospital or physician who originally treated you may have refused to accept your health insurance and decided to file a lien against any recovery you obtain from the collision.

All of this can be overwhelming and give an injured person the sense that he or she has lost all control over the situation and that whatever happens following the accident is solely up to the insurance companies. But you need to know that you have rights and if you assert them you can regain control of the situation.

Insurance Claim Help

At Zemper Eiva Law, we don’t let insurance companies run over our clients’ rights to privacy, rights to be left alone so you can heal, rights to have their medical bills and property losses paid, and rights to fair compensation for their injuries. Let us take care of the insurance companies and you can take care of getting healthy and back to your life.

The 5 Don’ts Following an Accident

Don’t Give a Statement to an Insurance Company Without Legal Representation
Insurance companies will call you soon after you have been injured for an in-depth interview and to obtain a recorded statement from you before you are represented. The company will tell you that it needs to take the statement as a formality to “help” process your claim so you can be compensated for your injuries. But the purpose of the interview and recorded statement is not to help you, it is try and find information that the insurance company can use against you later.

The company may also try to give you the impression that you have a legal obligation to provide a recorded statement. But you almost never have a legal obligation to give a recorded statement. If you do ever have an obligation to give a statement under your insurance policy or otherwise, you have the right to have your personal injury attorney present.

If an insurance company or a private investigator calls in the days and weeks following an injury and asks you to give a recorded statement or interview simply say “No thank you, I will let you know when I am ready to give an interview” and contact an experienced personal injury attorney to guide you through the process.

Don’t Sign a Medical Authorization Form
Many Insurance companies will ask you to sign medical authorizations soon after a car accident.  These authorizations usually are written broadly to give the insurance company full access to your medical and mental health treatment going back years, sometimes decades.

The company agent will say that he or she needs you to fill out the authorization so that the insurer can process your claim and reach settlement.  Sometimes insurance companies will give the impression that you have legal obligations to sign the medical authorization form. Despite any representations by the insurance company, it does not have a right to this information, you do not have an obligation to sign the authorization, and the company does not need this information for you to obtain a fair settlement.

Insurance companies often use these authorizations to dig into unrelated personal and medical matters to later use such information in the litigation process to personally embarrass you or to unfairly suggest that your injury was pre-existing and did not derive from the car accident.  The sole purpose is to drive down the value of your claim.

If an insurance company is asking to dig into your medical history through a medical authorization you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to help you obtain a fair resolution to your case and still protect your privacy rights.

Don’t Quickly Settle or Make Demands
An insurance company will often try to settle your claim immediately, before you can fully appreciate the seriousness of the matter. Its intention is to get you to settle when you still may be overwhelmed by the initial accident, when you do not know the full extent of your injuries, or when you have not had an opportunity to learn your rights. An insurance company knows that if it can reach a settlement during that early period it can usually avoid paying fair compensation. It is best to look at early offers to settle with suspicion. In almost all cases, any offer that the insurance company makes soon after the auto accident will be on the table in the following months. You do not need to rush into it.

Likewise do not make early demands for settlement. Many people who make early demands for settlement do not know how to evaluate their claim and accordingly make demands that are way too low or way to high. If you demand too little you may not end up with fair compensation to cover all of your medical bills or other losses. If you demand too much, it signals your inexperience to the insurance company and it will look to further take advantage of you. In the end, when the demand is too high or too low it can lead you to a unfair settlement.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you evaluate settlement offers and find the right range of negotiation. Contact the Zemper Eiva personal injury law firm today and we can help you evaluate your claim so you can recover a fair settlement.

Don’t Leave the Investigation of the Accident to the Insurance Company
The window to investigate what happened in a auto, trucking or bicycle accident fast disappears. Damage to cars is repaired and witnesses become harder to find and their memories fade. Many insurance companies begin investigating all aspects of the vehicle accident right away with the singular goal of gathering evidence to defeat your claim. Moreover, in many cases even if an insurance company investigation uncovers information that is to your advantage it will not have an obligation to share that information with you. If only the insurance company has a full understanding of the facts of the accident you may be put in a bad position during negotiations or trial. You need an investigation performed on your behalf as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury lawyer will make sure that this done for you.
Don’t Underrate or Overrate Your Injuries to Your Doctors
It should go without saying that it is important to fully and accurately describe your injuries to your doctor and other medical providers.

However, many people, due to their optimistic nature, will tell their doctors and other medical providers things like “I’m getting better” or “I feel back to normal” even when things are not better or back to normal. While we commend folks for approaching their medical treatment with optimism, it is best to not minimize your injuries to your medical providers when it does not reflect the truth. That is because doctors and other medical providers often write these statements in their notes, and insurance companies later will try to use those inaccurate notes to suggest that you have recovered from your injuries even when you have not.

Likewise, you should not overrate your injuries. That can create far worse problems for your claim. The simple rule to follow is that you should fully and accurately describe your symptoms and concerns to doctors. Nothing more, nothing less. Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Zemper Eiva Law today and will will help you navigate all aspects of your personal injury claim.

Frequently asked questions

What should I do if I am in an accident?
The first thing you should do is get medical attention. Make sure you seek medical treatment even if you feel “OK”. Many times in accidents, the adrenaline is pumping and your body may mask your true injury.

Making sure the police are called is also important. The police can help at the scene and also make your claim stronger later on. Having a police report written is important for several reasons. First, it is important that information is collected from all the parties and witnesses to the accident. Second, although the at fault party may feel terrible and apologetic at the scene, people tend to want to change their mind once they fear repercussions from the insurance carrier; so it is helpful to have them provide a statement to the police officer. If they later decide to change their story, it will appear less credible.

One of the first things our Oregon personal injury law firm does when we commence representation is conduct a thorough investigation of all the facts and circumstances of your injury accident. Accordingly, never throw anything related to your accident away, such as ripped or stained clothing, damaged items, photos from your cell phone, etc. Further, never give a recorded statement to an investigator or insurance agent without first speaking with one of our personal injury attorneys. Only speak about your motor vehicle accident to your family and doctors. Do not put anything on Facebook or other social media regarding your accident and injury, as insurance investigators will attempt to use this against you.

What if I cannot afford an attorney?
There are no out of pocket expenses for you and we do not collect attorney fees until YOU are compensated. In the vast majority of our cases, clients never have to come up with money out of pocket to pay us. Our fee is typically strictly limited to a percentage of what we recover for you. This is called a contingency agreement. If for any reason we are not able to recover for you, regardless of how much time or money we spent on your case, you will owe us nothing. When we recover for you, our fee is simply taken from what we recover from the opposing party or parties. With free consultations and no risk to you, there’s no reason to hesitate. You can put your mind at ease with the guidance of experienced attorneys at your side.
How soon should I contact a personal injury attorney?
The simple answer is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. The investigation of what happened and more importantly proving what happened may be the most critical work your personal injury attorney and team do for you. The best time to investigate is when witness memories are fresh and physical evidence such as skid marks are still available. In addition, there may be cases where we can get video of the motor vehicle or bike accident that was captured on a security or traffic cameras. These videos are often only kept for a few days or weeks, however, so starting an investigation as soon as possible is important. Usually the sooner we are able to begin our investigation the better results we can obtain for you.

It is important that you do not speak with the other insurance company, as they are truly your adversary and will likely attempt to assign some blame on you. It is best to leave the negotiations with a skilled personal injury attorney that works for you and handles these cases everyday. Finally, there are certain time limits in handling a collision case, if your case is not resolved prior to this time limit, you will not be entitled to any recovery.

Do I Have a Case?
Every situation is different. Whether you have a viable case is determined by many factors. The facts and circumstances of your particular case and the applicable laws will determine whether you have a claim. You may have been told by other personal injury lawyers or law firms that you do not have a viable case, but our knowledgeable and creative personal injury team may be able to see your case differently and obtain compensation for you. The experience and skill of the personal injury lawyer reviewing your case is critical in obtaining compensation for you. Contact the Zemper Eiva personal injury law firm today and we will evaluate your situation for you. Zemper Eiva Law is based in Eugene, Oregon and operates statewide across Oregon.