A car accident can leave you facing extensive injuries and financial losses. Therefore, recovering compensation is often a top priority following a collision.
In most cases, pursuing monetary recovery means engaging in a battle with the responsible insurance company. This is usually one of the most challenging parts of the whole process, as insurance companies have a reputation for being difficult.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take on the insurance company alone. A car accident attorney in Wesley Chapel can give you the best chance of recovering the justice and compensation you deserve.
Car Accident Cases
Every car accident case is unique; therefore, the road to compensation will differ from case to case. However, a majority of cases involve filing a claim with the insurance company. If your claim is unsuccessful, filing a lawsuit may be necessary.
Regardless of what direction your case takes, specific details are crucial. The following are necessary to recover your losses successfully.
First and foremost, you must determine why your accident happened. If your situation involves fighting with an insurance company, it’s usually because another driver has caused your accident.
Drivers often engage in negligent driving behaviors that increase the risk of causing accidents, including:
- Aggressive driving/road rage
- Unsafe lane changes and turns
- Distracted driving
- Driving while intoxicated
- Fatigued driving
- Failure to yield
- Reckless driving
The cause of your collision may be straightforward, but in some cases, it takes some investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.
Establishing fault is crucial in obtaining compensation. Often, negligence is at the heart of your claim. Negligence refers to a person’s failure to act in a reasonable manner, such as a similarly situated person should have.
To prove the other driver’s fault, you’ll have to satisfy the necessary elements of negligence, which include:
- Duty: The other party owed you a duty of care
- Breach: The party’s actions caused them to breach this duty of care
- Causation: The party’s wrongful actions caused your collision
- Damages: You suffered tangible and intangible losses as a result
Proving fault can be particularly challenging, especially in cases involving more than one liable party. You can rely on your car accident attorney to gather strong evidence and substantiate your claims to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Assessing Your Losses
Every car accident claim has a value. Determining the value of your claim is necessary to ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
A big part of your claim involves your injuries.
Car accidents can result in several different kinds of injuries, including:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Head and neck injuries
- Brain injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal injuries
Many factors influence the value of your claim, along with the severity of your injuries.
Your car accident attorney must review these details to understand how much your case is worth:
- The total cost of your medical expenses
- Whether you’ll need medical treatment in the future
- How your injuries have affected your mental and emotional well-being
- Whether your injuries have impacted your ability to work, and if so, the total of your lost income
- Whether you now suffer from a disability or permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Any other monetary or non-monetary losses caused by your collision
The damages you’re entitled to receive stem from your losses and the specifics of your case.
You can pursue financial recovery for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Therapy and rehabilitation
- Property damage
- Lost earnings
- Diminished earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Knowing how much your case is worth helps you make sure the compensation you receive adequately represents your accident-related losses. Your car accident attorney can calculate your damages and fight aggressively for fair financial recovery.
Understanding Car Insurance Companies
If you’ve never dealt with an insurance company and collision claims, you may feel stressed, confused, and hesitant to engage in the process. But knowledge is power, so it’s helpful to understand how car insurance companies work to give you a better idea of what to expect.
How Auto Insurance Companies Operate
Auto insurance companies are profit-driven. Policyholders pay premiums based on several factors in exchange for the protections these companies give.
While insurance companies provide financial protection to policyholders, at the end of the day, they’re businesses. This means their primary goal is to make money and keep their money. Consequently, they’re always looking for ways to minimize their liability and losses. While you might think insurers have your best interests at heart, they don’t.
The Role of the Insurance Adjuster
When you file your collision claim, the insurance company assigns an insurance adjuster to the case. Insurance adjusters play a large part in how much money the insurance company is willing to pay for your claim.
Essentially, adjusters must evaluate your damages and injuries and assign a value to your claim. However, the value they give your claim may differ significantly from the value your attorney comes up with. It’s vital to remember adjusters work for the insurance company, not you, so their goals mirror those of the insurer – minimize your claim and avoid paying you.
It’s not uncommon for adjusters to deny claims or look for ways to justify low payouts by downplaying the severity of your injuries and disputing liability. For this reason, it’s essential to tread lightly with adjusters and avoid giving them too much information, as they may try to use it against you.
Filing an Insurance Claim and Dealing with the Insurance Company
Filing a collision claim opens the door to your dealings with the insurance company. Knowing what to do and navigating your claim can be challenging, which is why it’s helpful to turn to a car accident attorney for assistance and advice.
Understanding Your Insurance Coverage and Laws
While you purchased your insurance coverage, there’s a high likelihood you don’t remember the specifics of your policy. Read over your insurance documents and familiarize yourself with specific details, like deductibles and policy limits.
Additionally, determine whether your state is a fault or no-fault insurance state. In a fault state, you file a collision claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. If the other driver caused your accident, you can file a third-party insurance claim. On the other hand, in a no-fault state, you will file a claim with your own insurer for compensation.
Should you have questions or concerns, a car accident attorney can better explain your policy, laws, and legal options.
Reporting Your Accident
Regardless of whether you live in a fault or no-fault state, you must report your accident to your auto insurer as soon as possible. Even if you’re not filing a collision claim with your insurance company, you have a duty to inform them of what’s occurred.
Communicating with Adjusters
Communicating with insurance adjusters can be tricky. You should take on a helpful, polite approach without being overly friendly. Remember, adjusters can try to use your words against you. Give them just enough information when needed, and leave the rest of the communications to your attorney.
Common Challenges with Insurance Companies
As previously mentioned, insurance companies don’t have stellar reputations for being easy to deal with. There are multiple strategies they use to protect themselves and diminish your claim. Nonetheless, if you familiarize yourself with the typical tactics they employ, you’re less likely to fall into their trap.
Quick, Lowball Settlement Offers
Insurance companies know accident victims want nothing more than to settle their claims quickly, get their money, and move on. For this reason, you shouldn’t be surprised if you receive a settlement offer very soon after your accident.
These quick settlement offers usually don’t even begin to cover the extent of your losses. However, if you’re unrepresented and don’t know how much your claim is worth, it may be tempting to accept the offer and move on. Insurance companies are hoping for just that, mainly because once you agree to settle, there’s no going back.
Minimizing Your Injuries and Losses
Insurance companies are always on the lookout for anything they can use to diminish your losses, especially as it pertains to your injuries. They may question how serious your injuries are or whether you’ve even sustained the injuries you claim at all.
This is just one of the reasons why you need medical attention after a car accident. Every doctor’s visit is in your medical records, which play a crucial role in car accident claims. When you fail to seek medical care and don’t have documents to substantiate your claim of injury, it’s easier for insurance companies to underestimate your claim.
Similarly, it’s vital to follow through with your medical treatment as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Quitting or deviating from your treatment plan can signal to the insurance company that your injuries were not as severe as you claimed, giving them further ammo to undervalue your case.
Insurance companies often delay claims on purpose to pressure accident victims. A delay typically causes anger and frustration, which can result in a victim accepting a lower settlement just to resolve their claim faster.
Insurers don’t shy away from denying accident victim’s claims, even when claims are valid. They do this in hopes that claimants will simply accept the denial and not take any further action.
Car accident victims don’t generally understand their legal options and may not know they have the right to dispute the decision. If you receive a wrongful claim denial, do not hesitate to seek legal guidance.
Protecting Your Rights
After a car accident, you want to do everything possible to protect your rights and prevent hurting your future claim. The following can help in your battle against the insurance company.
Collect Evidence and Documentation
Irrefutable evidence can significantly aid your pursuit of fair financial recovery. Having strong evidence can make it harder for insurance companies to avoid paying you what your claim is worth.
Be sure to collect documentation for everything accident-related, including medical bills and correspondence. Photographs and videos of your injuries and damages are helpful as well.
Keep Communication to a Minimum
Insurance companies often contact claimants to ask questions or request recorded statements. Avoid giving any statements or providing too much information, as the insurer may twist your words. Leave the communication to your attorney.
Seek Legal Assistance
Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure you understand your rights and they remain protected throughout the process. A lawyer can give you advice, support, and guidance you need during a challenging time.
Fighting Back with a Car Accident Attorney
When you hire a car accident attorney, you don’t have to handle your fight with the insurance company alone. Car accident lawyers know how to communicate and negotiate with auto insurance companies to achieve the best possible outcome.
Insurance companies prey on car accident victims that go unrepresented. They know most claimants aren’t at all familiar with laws, procedures, and tactics that work to their benefit.
In most cases involving unrepresented car accident victims, insurers get their way. This is because insurance companies are often large organizations with teams of adjusters and lawyers whose interests align with the company's and not your own. The insurance company will do everything possible to find a reason to deny claims. It makes money by paying out as little as they can.
When you have a skilled car accident lawyer on your side, you don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of. The insurance company knows you have legal representation, meaning they can’t get away with what they can otherwise. Having an attorney gives you the best possible chance of getting the compensation you truly deserve.
Following a car accident, do not hesitate to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer. Time is limited to file your claim, and you don’t want to miss your opportunity to pursue financial recovery. Your lawyer can fight the insurance company on your behalf and obtain the fairest possible result.