Well, well, well, look what we have here: helpful tips for insureds from State Farm regarding what to do after a car accident. State Farm "Do's and Don'ts" (below) is a screen capture image taken from its "Learning Center," presumably part of the website that educates State Farm's customers. This kind of "what to do" list is fairly standard but what is
remarkable is the passage:
"Do assess yourself and your passengers. Even low-impact colisions can cause injuries, some not appearing until days after the accident." (emphasis added).
Why is this remarkable? State Farm routinely maintains that clients who are not taken away bleeding profusely and/or dying in an ambulance after a car wreck cannot possibly be injured. At all, ever, period, end of discussion, please dismiss your client's case. No one injured by a State Farm insured could possibly have injuries that appear
after the accident. And even if they are injured, it must be due to
1) a prior injury, fall, illness, occupation, or condition (example: client hurt her leg in 1974 thus State Farm insured cannot be responsible for head injuries in wreck in 2011);
2) the client's own fault (client was not bleeding or dying; alternatively client was listening to the radio in the vehicle so he must be at fault);
3) the client's active imagination (client is a liar);
4) whatever excuse State Farm thinks up that day.
Unfortunately, the above is only a slight exaggeration.
I actually don't have many clients whose injuries have appeared days and days after a car wreck; however, there are plenty of wrecks where one is stunned and shaken badly by an accident but due to adrenalin, ability to walk, children in car, etc., that person doesn't feel the need to be taken by ambulance to the emergency room or see an emergency physician that day. As with strenous exercise, the effect of a shock to the muscles can be felt acutely the following day. Bruises and other injuries can appear hours later and in the following days.
Many times these injuries are to the neck and spine.
Serious whiplash, other spine injuries, concussions and head injuries may not actually be apparent on the scene of an accident. Occasionally, injuries appearing later are serious enough to result in treatment with cortisone shots, spine surgery, CT and MRI scans, etc. For State Farm to actively resist and deny its own advice is the height of hypocrisy.
As a former insurance defense attorney, I cast a critical eye on claims for personal injury as well. I've had years of experience sizing up claims and cases from the defense side -- experience with adjusters and the insurance industry which has helped me to be
very successful for my clients as a plaintiff's attorney. But even after years of working in insurance defense and defending
against plaintiff's cases, the level of stubborness and resistance to legitimate claims by nearly all the big insurance companies in recent years has surprised me. While State Farm (and other insurance companies) has every right to investigate injury claims made against its insureds, the length to which State Farm goes to decry, delay, and obfuscate legitimate claims for damages -- while making the opposite assertion on its own website -- is amazing.