Ensuring that you do not lose your rights to car accident legal claims starts from the minute you are involved in a car accident. Personal injury law is rarely a cut and dry situation. Many car accident victims make mistakes that can jeopardize their car accident legal claims.
There are steps you should take if you are ever in a car accident that will help you to preserve your rights to car accident legal claims that can help you to pay medical bills, get compensated for property damage, and potentially compensate you for any injuries sustained during the car accident.
Keep These Things in Mind After a Car Accident
There is not one uniform legal standard across the states when it comes to car accident legal claims. For example, the time frame that you have to file car accident legal claims can range from one to ten years. Each state has its own set of rules for when you can file car accident legal claims, what they can cover, and how the process is litigated.
You must have the expertise of a personal injury attorney to ensure that not only is your car accident legal claims filed in a timely manner but that your claim is managed the right way. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can manage these types of claims on your own. You need professional support.
The risk is great that your car accident legal claims will not hold up in court if you try to manage your claim without the help of an experienced attorney. While each state may differ in its rules, every state stringently adheres to its rules. A missed filing deadline, a case that is not formatted correctly, or other administrative mistakes can mean the end of your car accident legal claims and the end of your right to compensation.
Beware the Friendly Insurance Adjuster
An auto collision can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. A lot of people make the error of thinking that their auto insurance coverage will immediately kick in and pay out for things like medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. Unfortunately, it does not always work out like that.
Insurance companies are businesses. That means that their goal is to generate income and like every other business look for ways to save. Savings for the insurance company can mean offering low ball settlements, not paying for full auto body shop repairs, and fighting your right to continued medical care.
One of the things the insurance companies like to do is to “total” a vehicle and send it on to the salvage yard. For example, if you drive an older car that is paid off, and runs fine, and is in an auto collision, the insurance company will use a formula that is not favorable to you to pay you out. Of course, there are drawbacks to allowing the adjuster to declare a vehicle a total loss:
- You lose a paid-off vehicle and will likely have to incur a debt to get a new car.
- The insurance adjuster will likely pay you a lot less than what you feel your car is worth.
- You may have an emotional attachment to the car that makes it very hard for you to part you’re your car.
The insurance company does not care that handing you a check for a couple of thousand dollars is not enough to buy a new car. They do not care how much you valued the car, or how long you owned the car or even how much you depended on the car. If their calculations say the car is not worth fixing, they will not pay to fix it, unless you file car accident legal claims and fight back.
Property damage is only one of the ways the insurance company can try to jip you out of what they should cover. There are horror stories out there about adjusters refusing to pay out for medical care. For example, you have an auto collision and do not seek urgent care right away. You wait a couple of days because you are not feeling too bad, you even go to your office job the next day, but by day three the back pain is more than you can tolerate. You seek out medical care. Of course, the problem has stemmed from the car accident because you have not done anything else strenuous that could cause it. However, the insurance company can turn around and say that it was not the car accident and you will have a fight on your hands.
One of the key takeaways from both of these scenarios is that the insurance adjuster is not on your side. It does not mean that the insurance adjuster is not a good person. It means that as a car accident victim you should know that the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company and that is the interest that they are trying to protect.
Car accident legal claims are the only recourse that you have to fight back against denied claims, low ball offers, and being treated unfairly. No car accident victim should proceed without experienced aggressive legal services.
How Do Car Accident Legal Claims Play Out Initially
Within the first 48 hours after an auto collision an insurance adjuster will contact you and question you about the accident. They will ask how you feel, if you sustained any injuries, and ask about property damage to your vehicle.
They will collect the information that they need from you to open the claim and do their investigation. You must know what to say to the adjuster to avoid problems from the start:
- Stick to the facts. The adjuster will try to engage you in small talk to get you to open up and talk candidly. Do not fall for it. Just stick the facts of the accident.
- This is a loaded question; How are you feeling? When an adjuster asks how are you feeling during the conversation, you should know that the answer that you give can impact your car accident legal claims throughout your case. If you say “oh I am fine” that adjuster will use that information moving forward. You should not lie but you should also not say you are fine if you are not. If your neck hurts say it, if your back hurts say it, if you have bruises or are banged up in any way, say it.
- They may make you an offer. If there are no injuries that you report, the adjuster may say something like I am authorized to offer you this much to settle this matter. Don’t take it. Call a lawyer before you make any other decisions.
This is a very stressful time for you and the insurance adjusters know that. They will strike while the fire is hot to help save their company money and wrap things up. Unfortunately, you lose if they win. These first conversations with the adjuster are very important conversations to your car accident legal claims. Have an attorney on your side that specializes in car accident cases or bicycle accident attorney if you were involved in a bicycle accident, to best protect your rights to fair treatment.
Car accident legal claims are filed when the insurance company is not offering what the victim deserves. Whether they are refusing to cover the true cost of property damage, or they are making it hard to get the right medical care, car accident legal claims can be filed to compel them to do so.
What Happens Next?
Patience is key in these matters. Very rarely does an insurance company buckle under the initial pressure provided by car accident legal claims. They will eventually because they do not want to go to trial. There are over 3 million car accidents each year and a large majority of them are settled out of court, but not right away.
Before your case can be settled there are a lot of things to work out like:
- Reaching maximum medical improvement. If you have been injured during the collision, you will likely have to see the doctor for a while before you reach MMI. The insurance company cannot settle your claim until your doctor says that you are done with your treatments.
- How will your injuries impact you moving forward. Can you return to your pre car accident life? Will you be able to resume your job? These questions and others need to be answered before your car accident legal claims can be settled.
- The insurance company will make offers through out the process. Let’s say you have been out of work for 3 months because of the car accident, the insurance company knows you are starting to feel desperate because of financial pressures, they will make monetary settlement offers. Those offers will be made with company savings in mind and will be low.
It can take a while for a claim to be fully settled but it is typically in the victims best interest to wait it out. Settling too soon can mean losing thousands of dollars. Part two of the process is the waiting.
Will I Have to Go To Court?
Most car accident victims want to know if they will need to go to court to fight their car accident claims with the insurance company. The answer is maybe, but highly unlikely. If you have a good attorney on your side the insurance company will eventually buckle and pay up.
Statistics suggest that about 95% of car accident cases are settled outside of court. However, every case is different, the best way to understand your probability of having to fight it out in court is to speak to an attorney.
Insurance companies like to avoid court at all costs because court can mean a jury trial, it can mean that they will have to pay out a lot more than then they would if they settled outside of court. Of course, it can also mean that the jury will side with the insurance company, but that is rare.
When Is the Right Time To Go To Court?
There are a few times when your lawyer may suggest that going to court and take your car accident claims to trial is the right solution including:
- The insurance company is firmly denying your claim. In some cases, the insurance company simply refuses to pay, they contend that the accident is your fault, or that you were not truly injured in the accident and they refuse to compromise. In this case, taking the claim to trial is the only solution.
- There was a wrongful death. If someone was killed in the car accident, going to court may be the only way to get justice.
- If the victim demands their day in court. Some victims want to go to court. They have been treated so poorly by the insurance company that they want to take their chances in court just to be heard.
Your attorney is the best resource when it comes to questions about going to court. They have the experience to provide you with honest answers and explain to you what you can expect if your car accident claims need to be settled in court.
If your case does have to go through the trial process, your attorney will make sure that you are fully prepared. Considering that only about 5% of cases ever make it to trial, there is a high probability that your case will be in the 95% that does not.
First Thing To Do After a Car Accident
You can avoid a lot of the pitfalls of dealing with the insurance company, fighting for your rights, and trying to navigate the car accident legal claims on your own, by getting a trusted attorney on your case as soon as possible.
An attorney will take care of the case for you so you can focus on getting back on your feet and getting back to your life. Protect your rights with an attorney that is looking out for your best interests because the insurance companies are not.
Assertive legal services will make a difference in the outcome of your claim.