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Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Car Accident

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Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Car Accident
April 15, 2024

We have all probably driven past car accident wreckage. The shattered glass and skid marks give only a vague indication of the confusion and panic that the victims must feel. Car accident victims can sustain life-threatening injuries that cost thousands of dollars to treat. Besides medical expenses, lost wages, household services, and property damage can add additional financial and emotional stress. 

Auto insurance claims are supposed to lift this burden from your shoulders. Insurance adjusters should assess the damage so the company can determine how much falls within the coverage limits, and you should receive your money for the car insurance claim after that. Unfortunately, the insurance claims process rarely, if ever, goes so smoothly.

At Hoffspiegel Law, our lawyers understand the struggles of filing a car accident insurance claim. Handling a car accident claim is often a hassle, whether it is your own insurance provider or the insurance company representing the other driver – no wonder many people dread it. With our expertise, we do more than help you with tedious paperwork and crafty insurance adjusters – we can maximize your compensation and secure your financial future.

Understanding Insurance Coverage

Drivers must carry car accident liability insurance in almost every US state. Understanding how insurance works is essential for dealing with car insurance companies. 

Car accident liability insurance helps pay for damages and injuries caused by the policyholder in a car accident. Yet, the system is complex because there are many variations of auto coverage depending on where the accident happened and on the other driver’s insurance company.

For accidents in at-fault states

If a Georgia car accident injures another driver, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays for qualifying accident-related expenses. In Georgia, like most other at-fault states, the driver responsible for causing the car accident is responsible for the other party’s losses. 

For accidents in no-fault states

A driver residing in a no-fault state would rely on his or her own auto insurance policy for accident coverage. Why? Texas, New York, and other no-fault states require drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP).

PIP coverage is valid for you and your passengers’ injuries, regardless of who caused the accident. In general, it covers medical bills, wage replacement, death benefits, and some services.

Additional insurance coverage

Every insurance provider has its unique policies and services. When you buy a policy, the insurance agent can tell you what your policy covers and what additional coverage is available. For instance, PIP does not cover property damage, so some motorists pay more for comprehensive coverage. 

Let’s discuss some add-ons that might affect your car accident case:

  • Medical payments coverage (Med Pay): Med pay coverage helps pay for medical expenses even if you are at fault. If you have health insurance, it can cover your deductible, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs. These policies usually provide coverage between $1000 and $10,000.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage (UM): UM applies when an at-fault driver without auto insurance hits you. In hit-and-run collisions, the at-fault driver leaves the accident scene. After an investigation, police officers might locate the responsible party, but uninsured motorist insurance would cover the expenses if they cannot find the other driver’s name and insurance carrier.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM): Sometimes, uninsured motorist coverage is bundled with underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), which applies when the at-fault driver’s insurance limits are insufficient to cover all of your accident expenses. Carrying UM and UIM is advisable, even if it is not mandatory in your state. 
  • Collision coverage: This insurance pays repair or replacement costs if your vehicle is damaged in an accident, no matter whose fault the accident is. It also includes single-car accidents, such as when you run into a tree, guardrail, or other stationary object.

Each state has different minimum coverage limits for PIP or liability insurance. For instance, suppose the state’s minimum liability insurance requirements are $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 per accident for property damage.

Some car crash victims assume they would automatically receive $25,000 – the maximum payout for any accident covered by the aforementioned auto insurance policy. They may be shocked to discover that some insurance claims are denied while others receive lower-than-expected settlement offers. 

Car accident lawyers can review your policy and explain what your insurance coverage includes. They can also help you avoid mistakes when filing a car insurance claim.

Documenting the Damage

Vehicle accidents can lead to expensive consequences, such as:

  • Medical bills: Emergency transport, hospitalization, surgeries, physical therapy, medical devices, and follow-up doctor visits
  • Transportation: Rental car fees, public transport, travel for medical treatment
  • Lost income: Missed work, used sick and vacation time, unpaid leaves of absence
  • Car repairs: Replacement of damaged parts or totaled vehicles, repair fees for structural damage, and repainting
  • Property damage: Valuable items like laptops or speakers destroyed in an accident, veterinary bills for injured pets, destruction of fences, mailboxes, lawns, or other tangible property
  • End-of-life expenses: Funeral and burial costs

Car insurance rates can be expensive, but many motorists don’t mind the costs if the service they receive is valuable. However, insurance claims after an accident can be surprisingly hard to deal with. 

First, no insurance company is going to pay a car insurance claim based on your word alone. You will need to prove your losses. 

Insurance adjusters will investigate how much the company should pay for losses. A claims adjuster might inspect the vehicles at the accident scene to evaluate property damage and review collected or submitted evidence.

A car accident attorney can help you gather important proof, including:

  • Details from the police report
  • Medical records
  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Witness statements
  • Damage estimates and professional repair appraisals
  • Receipts and bills
  • Expert witness testimony

A car insurance adjuster might interview you after your accident, asking a seemingly overwhelming flood of questions. He or she might also request a recorded statement. You have the right to refuse to give recorded statements to a car insurance company. However, you should be aware that some insurance companies record incoming calls to their customer service lines. 

Even if you are not making a recorded statement, be cautious of what you say to an insurance adjuster. A casual remark about your injuries could affect your ability to pursue reimbursement. Even what you don’t say can cause trouble.

A wise course of action is to limit the information you provide. Let the insurance adjusters know you are undergoing medical treatment and encourage them to contact your attorney if additional details are needed. 

Remember, no matter how friendly adjusters are, they work for the insurance company – not for you. Once you hire a firm to represent you, it is best to avoid directly communicating with the insurer. Instead, your legal team can handle all communications with the insurance company. 

Negotiating a Settlement

Did you know you can negotiate if an insurance company offers you a settlement? An insurance company might offer a small amount, hoping you will take the bait. If you do, you might regret it later when your medical costs for your accident injuries continue to multiply.

Speaking up about an unfair offer takes courage. What you say needs to be backed up with documented facts. Car accident lawyers can act as your advocate, mediating all the communication to your own insurance company, the other party’s insurance company, and their lawyers if they are involved in the case.

The Hoffspiegels would be happy to review your car accident claim. Let us know if an offer falls short of fair compensation or if you suspect your case is worth more. 

Our savvy lawyers will consider the following:

  • The opinion of healthcare providers of care needed for your long-term recovery 
  • Medical bills you are likely to incur in the future
  • Pain and suffering caused by the accident
  • Previously unreported accident-related expenses 
  • The costs of repairing and replacing your vehicle and property damaged during the car accident

You don’t have to take no for an answer. Even if an insurance company rejects your claim, that decision is not always permanent. Lawyers who understand the insurance claims process can collect evidence and appeal the decision, ensuring you receive fair compensation. 

Meeting Important Deadlines 

One of the most common reasons behind denied claims is missed deadlines. Though quickly collecting and submitting documentation can be challenging, it is necessary if you want compensation for your car damage and medical expenses.

Insurance time limits 

You should contact your own insurance company after any car accident. Both car and health insurance companies have time limits for claims, so do not hesitate. If you are late, it can affect the company’s ability to provide coverage. 

Write down the date and time of your communications with the car insurance adjuster and other representatives. Note their names, telephone extensions, and a summary of the information they provide.

If the insurer tells you to do something, such as send in an estimate for car damage or provide a copy of a doctor’s bill, be sure to ask them if there is a deadline. Keep copies of anything you submit for your case, sending materials via certified mail when possible.

Some insurance companies allow you to contact them via their mobile app. You can also find information about your policy limits online. 

Fulfilling insurance company requirements quickly is frustrating if you are unfamiliar with the process. A car accident lawyer can decode the fine print of your own policy and contact the insurance company of the other driver on your behalf. Why struggle alone when an experienced car accident lawyer can help?

Statutes of limitations

The statutes of limitations for personal injury accidents are legal deadlines for filing a case. Each state restricts how long you have to collect damages from the at-fault driver after an accident.

These deadlines generally range from 1 to 6 years, depending on where the car accident occurred. In Georgia, for example, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within 2 years

A personal injury lawsuit is when someone sues another party for causing harm or injury. To get damages from the at-fault party of a car accident, you need to prove that someone else’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing led to your injuries.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Securing compensation from insurance companies after a car accident can be a complex and overwhelming experience. At Hoffspiegel Law, our attorneys don’t accept a large number of cases so we can give each client our individual attention. We can help you understand your own insurance policy, contact the other driver’s auto insurance company, and file your auto claim promptly and accurately.

In short, a Hoffspiegel car accident lawyer can confidently help you navigate every step of the insurance claims process. It is never too early to get us involved. You can even contact us from the auto accident scene. 

Schedule your free consultation with our legal warriors to learn how to obtain maximum compensation for your auto accident. You don’t have to worry that our lawyers will ask for a payment upfront since we handle cases on a contingency fee basis. We only get paid when we settle the case for you.