I was rear ended at a light yesterday. Have a few questions and concerns over what do do next.
July 28, 2011 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I was rear ended at a light yesterday. Have a few questions and concerns over what do do next.

I apologize in advance if this has been answered several times. I just spend the last 30 mins going through older questions. This helped a little, but still seeking some more detail.

This takes place in California...

I was rear ended at a stop light by another driver. I would say he was travlling around 5pmh, but did not break until he hit me. He admitted fault at the scene, we exchanged insurance, and left the scene. I went home, called the non emergency police line to report the accident. They refused, stating non injury accidents should be handled by insurance. So I called my insurance to set up a claim. We went through the process, I made my statement and shared details of the incident. He asked if I was injured, and I said that I had sore neck/shoulder pain. I was tolled I can go to any body shop to get an estimate, but they gave me a list of "preferred" shops to go to, which would make the claims process easier.

1. In addition to my insurance, I have AAA. I was planning on going to a AAA facility to get an estimate. Is there any reason to go to the insurance "preferred" repair facilities. Do I have anything to fear (ie being ripped off) by going to these places?

2. My neck/shoulder has continued to feel sore/ dull pain. I do not have a primary care physician. Where should I go to seek treatment? Chiropractor? Urgent care facility?

3. My insurance does not cover rental vehicles. However, since I am not at fault, would I be reimbursed if I got a rental car (during the repair process) by his insurance company. On that same note, should I be contacting his insurance company at all?

4. Whats the deal with diminished value of my vehicle. Is this something I need to be proactive about with the insurance companies?

Thanks for any insight.
posted by ShootTheMoon to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
3. Don't delay dealing with the neck, and document it well. The car damage is easily dealt with; this is not, especially if you let it slide. Urgent care is probably best; they'll take an X-ray which a reputable chiropractor would want to see, anyway. Get them to refer you either to a chiropractor or physical therapy.
posted by beagle at 10:40 AM on July 28, 2011

I meant 2.
posted by beagle at 10:41 AM on July 28, 2011

1. With my insurance company, I got a warranty on the work if I went to the preferred facility. Luckily for me, the shop I wanted to go to was one of their preferred facilities anyway. They were completely honest and very quick.
2. Get checked out right away. You should have gotten checked out the day you got hit. The at-fault driver's insurance will cover the bill.
3. This is a great question to ask your adjuster. Don't talk to his insurance company--deal directly with yours. If they're at all worth their salt, they'll represent your interests for you.
4. I don't think there's anything you can do about this, but I could be wrong.
posted by litnerd at 10:58 AM on July 28, 2011

I work as a claims representative for a claims manager company. The two most important things to do are to 1) call the police non-emergency line and 2) contact your insurance company. I am not familiar with the system in California, but I know that Canadians are required to report the incident within seven days from the "loss date." The police sometimes refuse to file a report if they think it's unnecessary, so that's not a big deal. If you contact your insurance company then they will help guide you towards the next steps. I know that when policyholders notify me that the police refused to file a report, I simply state that it's not a big deal because you made the initiative and you cannot do anything if the officer refuses to file a report for you.

1. In regards to the preferred shops, that is something that we offer policyholders too. It makes the claim process easier because the preferred body shops communicate directly with the adjuster and offer the free on-site insurance approved appraisal. However, if you chose to go elsewhere then the adjuster would have to arrange for an appraisal which would take longer.

You should definitely go to the preferred repair facility for at least the free on-site appraisal. It's fine if you go elsewhere for the repair process, but at least get the free appraisal so that it speeds up the process for you. Getting a second estimate might be beneficial, but it doesn't actually "trump" the insurance approved appraisal because it's simply an estimate that you can get from any body shop. There are a lot of good shops listed on the preferred shop list. If you are concerned about being ripped off then you should ask the adjuster or the claims rep for a complete list of body shops in your area, that way you can google them and see which one works better for you.

2. I'm unfamiliar with the American health care system, so I will not be able to answer your second question, but it seems that "beagle" has answered the question for you!

3. Only contact the insurance company once (to file the claim) and after that the adjuster should be in contact with you. They will delve into the rental vehicle process with you since they have to determine who was truly at fault for the incident. Typically, you get reimbursed for the rental vehicle, but I strongly urge you to wait until the adjuster contacts you. If you do not have rental coverage on your policy then as a claims rep, I would simply tell you to hold onto receipts for possible reimbursement, so in a sense, it's a gamble to wait.

4. I'm not sure which insurance company you are with and how they operate, but when I do the claim intake process for policyholders, I do not ask them directly about what the value of their vehicle is. Instead, there are questions about the current damages to the vehicle, sometimes I have to ask questions about the current mileage on their vehicle, or any pre-existing damages. It typically depends on your insurance company, but the diminished value is something that the adjuster would have to help you determine. That's another reason why it's good to go to a preferred body shop!
posted by sincerely-s at 11:00 AM on July 28, 2011

What is the damage like? Are we talking banged up bumper, or worse?
posted by smackfu at 11:11 AM on July 28, 2011

First of all, the fact that you called the police after you had left the scene has more to do with why they didn't want to talk to you than the fact that no one was allegedly injured. I mean, reporting the accident after everyone's already gone home doesn't really do anyone that much good, because the officer isn't going to be able to show up and get the facts while the evidence still exists. So for future reference, definitely call the police whether or not there's an injury, but do it at the scene, not afterwards.

Second, if you're claiming bodily injury, definitely go get yourself checked out. But understand that there are two ways that the other guy's insurance might decide to dispute this. The first way is liability. That seems pretty clear here: you were rear-ended. The other is damages. Here you might have some problems. This was a low-speed impact, and there isn't any evidence that you hit anything. So it might be hard to convince a jury that you were actually injured here.

This is not intended to discourage you from pursuing your claim. By all means, go and get yourself checked out. Odds are decent that the other guy has a few grand of "no-fault" coverage (frequently referred to as "medical payments") which should provide at least enough in benefits to cover your initial evaluation and diagnosis.

It is, however, intended to make you aware that you may get some push-back from the adjuster if you start making claims that you were injured. This isn't fiery sixteen-car pileup or a high-speed t-bone collision. It's a low-speed, rear-end accident. Likewise you aren't claiming that you've broken your leg or something immediately and objectively verifiable. You're alleging what amounts to soft tissue damage. Neck/shoulder pain claims are really common, and really hard to verify, so don't be surprised if the adjuster is skeptical.

Don't get it in your head that this is going to be an easy payday. It won't. The fact that you were in a car accident for which someone else was at fault does not entitle you to a million dollars. You can expect to have your medical expenses paid for, and anything else you get is going to be in proportion to those expenses. To pick a number at random, if your medical bills are $5,000, there's no way you're going to get a $100,000 award. More like $15,000, if you're lucky. The best way to make sure that you get a quick settlement is to make a reasonable demand. Get greedy, and the insurance company will fight you, which means that even if you do get what you want, it's going to take years.
posted by valkyryn at 11:12 AM on July 28, 2011

BTW, just because you got insurance info, doesn't mean they actually have insurance. I learned this to my dismay.
posted by smackfu at 11:13 AM on July 28, 2011

So for future reference, definitely call the police whether or not there's an injury, but do it at the scene, not afterwards.

You don't live in urban California, do you? Generally speaking, calling the police for a non-injury accident here will accomplish basically nothing; they will tell you to call the insurance company. In fact, when I was rear-ended at a stop a police cruiser pulled up and the cop got out. He asked if anyone was hurt; when told nobody was hurt, he hopped back into his car and drove off without so much as running our plates or whatever.

OP: DO NOT talk to the other driver's insurance company for any reason whatsoever except as instructed to by your own insurance company. One of the points of having an insurance company is for them to handle these things for you.

Go to a doctor not a chiro. An actual doctor.
posted by Justinian at 12:51 PM on July 28, 2011

Thanks for the help so far. To be clear, I'm not looking for any kind of payout. I just want any expenses I have covered. I heeded the advice here and went to an urgent care. Spoke with a Dr, and got a prescription. No xrays required.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 2:02 PM on July 28, 2011

INYL, TINLA. Valkryn's discussion is sensible, though this is probably not a $15,000 case. Go see an MD rather than a chiropractor if your shoulder worsens or does not improve. Soft-tissue cases are difficult, as Valkryn says, but it's well known that soft-tissue injuries aren't usually evident immediately.

In theory, the diminution in value of your vehicle after the repair (if any) is a compensable loss, but whether it's worth the effort to obtain in the event of a dispute might be questionable.

If you've missed work or want an opinion, seek a referral to a reputable local attorney who handles personal injury cases. If you're in SoCal, hit me off list and I can probably help with a referral.
posted by Hylas at 2:33 PM on July 28, 2011

From Ms. Vegetable:
I work for a major auto insurance company.

1, 2, and 3 have been answered correctly in prior responses, so I'm going to ignore those. However, I have unhappy news for you regarding 4. The diminished value of your car is not going to be made up for. That is, if your car was worth 10K before the accident, and even fixed it's now going to be worth only 8K, well, you have to eat those 2K. Insurance, almost always, does not cover that. If you don't have rental coverage, I practically guarantee you don't have diminished value coverage.

(Disclaimer: I do not work for AAA, and I don't know their contract, but I know they rock in terms of customer satisfaction. Use your contact there and let them be the mean guy to the other folks.)
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:28 PM on July 28, 2011

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