Originally posted on March 19, 2020 @ 7:37 am
Dealing With Your Insurance After A Car Accident
The financial recovery process following an auto accident in California that produces injuries or significant vehicle damage can be a frustrating experience. California accident law is a “fault” system that requires negligent drivers to carry insurance that covers damage they do when being involved in an accident. All insurance companies are profit centers that focus with extensive detail when it comes to evaluating accidents, and especially concerning personal injury claims.
The law requires them to investigate the claim as soon as possible, but this process can also be to the company’s advantage because it helps them establish a defense while assessing the level of coverage. Some insurance companies can be very difficult with respect to second opinions or requests to see a specific doctor, which of course is a physician of their choosing who claims to be objective in their medical analysis.
This is not to mention multiple estimates for any physical damage to a claimed vehicle. The options of the insurance company are numerous, and it is often best to retain a car accident lawyer first as opposed to submitting an initial claim personally.
Be Cautious When Communicating with the Insurance Provider
California state law can make it difficult for an injured claimant to directly contact the respondent insurance company following an accident. The insurance company adjuster is focused on reducing any payout as much as possible, including recording all phone calls in building a potential defense against a claim. And if you call, they will assuredly be asking questions that will potentially benefit them in the long run.
It is actually more common for the insurance company to contact the injured party after talking to their client driver first, many times fishing for certain information regarding your condition. Discussing your injury is not a good idea nor is it a requirement under California law, and especially when you do not have the same car insurance provider.
In certain cases, injured parties may actually be filing claims with their own insurance company if they use a big-box company with many clients. If you do make contact, answer any questions succinctly and do not offer any additional information. First contact is usually a fishing expedition on their end, and it can be even more problematic if someone in your vehicle is seriously injured and will also have a claim against them.
Meet All Requested Appointments
All auto accident claims will be supported by medical evidence detailing each injury issue arising from the accident. Insurance companies have the option to request a second opinion regarding the initial diagnosis and prognosis, and they will commonly say they want an “independent” evaluation.
While you will assuredly be seeing a doctor that works with the insurance company, it is important to respond to these requests unless your accident lawyer advises against it. This possibility is actually a primary reason why injured victims should consult with an accident lawyer immediately after the fact. Insurance companies commonly make requests that could borderline on bad faith tactics, and an accident lawyer can keep them honest throughout the negotiation process.
Along with your attorney, your decision to respond to insurance company requests for additional information should be evaluated as a team because the whole objective for the coverage provider is reducing any payout, and especially when it comes to long-term injury prognosis and general damages for non-economic damages.
Special Damage Claims
Elements of an accident claim that can be calculated in exact dollars are termed as special damages and are a separate component of the claim from non-economic general damages, typically called pain-and-suffering damage.
These can include all expenses for medical evaluation, rehabilitation therapy, and wage replacement for inability to work due to the accident injury. The totals can be important because they also can become a calculating base when non-economic general damages for long-term impact are being determined.
Physical property damage is a discrete amount claim as well, and many times it is a good sign when the insurance company immediately attempts to cover this element of the claim. Some accident cases are well-established in fact indicating clear fault, but many insurance companies will still attempt to force a case to court for a determination regarding a comparative negligence fault level for a claimant driver.
Many accident claims are settled out of court after significant negotiation between the insurance company adjusters and representatives of the injured claimant. It is never a good decision to attempt handling your own injury claim for a variety of reasons, and especially when injuries are serious. Insurance company claims adjusters are trained professionals who deal with reducing or denying insurance claims on a daily basis. Having an experienced car accident lawyer means you also have a trained professional representing your case who is concerned with ensuring that all legal rights to financial compensation are honored and no bad faith tactics are used by the insurance company.
The novice injured victim is rarely a match for the insurance company adjuster, but your attorney can demand whole compensation while defending against insurance company claims of personal fault.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Helps with Comparative Negligence Level
Almost all injured accident victims are made financially whole through the non-economic long-term prognosis element of their claim. These general damages are what all insurance companies want to avoid or reduce even in an obviously valid claim. And they will commonly force a claim to court if they think they can reduce a claim value based on the comparative fault of the claimant driver, which can also impact any other claims from injured passengers.
Arriving at an equitable amount is where all injury claim negotiations breakdown when the company admits at least partial responsibility to pay the claim. Your accident lawyer can conduct an independent investigation on your behalf that also evaluates the claims of any official accident report indicating fault, including questioning accident investigation specialists when necessary to reduce their client’s determined contribution to causing the accident.
Even in California where pure comparative accident injury claim law is applied, this can still amount to a significant amount of savings for the company. This possibility alone is enough to require retaining an experienced accident lawyer to handle your claim for maximum benefits.
Never attempt handling your own accident injury claim in California because all claims are almost always much more valuable than the injured victim realizes. In addition, insurance companies can be ruthless when attempting to settle a claim quickly with no future medical coverage. The car accident lawyer you choose can make a major difference.