Car crashes often happen without warning and can change victims’ lives in an instant. In addition to dealing with injuries, people may also have to navigate the car insurance claims process, which can be confusing and stressful. How do car insurance claims work exactly? If you have been injured in an auto accident, here is what you need to know about the claims process.
How Do Car Insurance Claims Work?
After you have been involved in an auto accident, you will need to notify the insurance company. If your accident happened in Missouri or Oklahoma, you will file your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If your accident happened in Kansas, different rules apply. Kansas has a no-fault insurance system, meaning that Kansas drivers must file their claims with their own insurance companies.
Insurance companies often contact victims as soon as they learn that a car accident has happened, so you will likely be contacted while you are still recovering from your injuries. After you have reported your claim, the company will appoint an adjuster nto handle the case. The adjuster’s job is to evaluate your claim and determine how much it is worth. It is important for you to understand that the adjuster works for the insurance company. His or her job is to help the company minimize its losses, and his or her loyalty is to the insurance company, not to you.
Dealing with a Claims Adjuster
A claims adjuster might contact you and ask you about your accident. He or she may ask you to give a recorded statement. If you were injured, it is not a good idea to agree to give a recorded statement to the claims adjuster or to any other insurance company representative without first talking to an experienced personal injury lawyer. The insurance company is gathering these statements from you in order to use them against you in the claims process. If you are asked to give a statement, it is fine to politely tell the claims adjuster that you want to consult with a personal injury lawyer before giving a statement. Additionally, if you are still under the stress of the accident or taking pain medication, it is a good idea to decline to give a statement until some time has passed. Your lawyer can then help by handling the negotiations process with the insurance company on your behalf.
If your accident only left you with property damage, and no one was injured, the claims process is typically straightforward. The company may ask you to take your car to a mechanic. The mechanic will provide an estimate for the company, and the company may then send you a check. Most accidents involving property damage alone are able to be handled by you, the victim, without involving an attorney. When you have been injured in an accident that was the fault of someone else, however, getting help from a lawyer may make it much likelier that you will receive a fair amount in settlement.
Determination of Fault
The adjuster will try to determine who was at fault for the accident. Even in cases in which the police report clearly states that the other driver was at fault, the insurance company may still dispute the liability of their insured. Insurance companies may also sometimes try to settle injury claims quickly. You should avoid accepting an offer extended to you by an insurance company soon after your accident without first meeting with an experienced lawyer to have your claim properly valued. One common tactic that insurance companies use is extending offers that are unreasonably low. Remember that if you accept an offer, you will not be able to ask for more money to compensate you for additional losses in the future.
Your lawyer will investigate your claim and value it. He or she may then provide you with a range of monetary values. A fair settlement offer should fall somewhere within that range. The attorney may then send a demand letter to the responsible insurance company to demand an amount of compensation at the upper end of the monetary range. The letter will outline the evidence that has been gathered to support your demand. The insurance company may then accept your demand and settle your claim, offer a lower amount, or deny it outright. Remember, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle injury claims, and shortcuts only benefit the insurance company, not you.
How Do Car Insurance Claims Work When the Company Denies Them or Counters?
So how do car insurance claims work if the company won’t meet your demands? First, if the insurance company offers a lower amount than the amount that you demanded through your attorney, your lawyer may negotiate with the insurance company to try to secure fair compensation for you. In some cases, it is possible for you and your attorney to reach a settlement without having to file a formal lawsuit in court.
If the company refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer or denies your claim, your lawyer may discuss the options available, including filing a civil petition for damages to initiate a formal lawsuit. The company will then be required to file its responsive answer, and the case will then enter into discovery. During discovery, both sides will have to exchange the evidence that they have in the case. Negotiations may continue throughout the discovery process, and many cases reach settlements before proceeding to jury trials. However, some cases must be litigated through trial in order to secure a verdict. There are many factors that determine if a case is right for out-of-court settlement or a lawsuit. You should discuss this with an experienced personal injury lawyer with experience both in and out of court.
Contact a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney
The car insurance claims process can be complex. If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by another driver, it is important for you to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer.