Last Updated on March 29th, 2011
An auto accident insurance settlement is the amount of compensation that a victim in an auto accident can receive when their claim is handled through insurance. Auto accident insurance settlements are the most common type of settlement that is negotiated for personal injury claims. This is largely because of the fact that there are so many motor vehicle accidents in the United States every year.
There are at least five million motor vehicle accidents on our nation”s roadways every year. In these motor vehicle accidents, approximately two million people are injured and at least 20,000 people die in car wrecks, according to Bureau of Transportation statistics. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and serious injury for people under the age of thirty five.
Auto accident insurance settlements where a serious injury occurs require the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer. These cases are best handled with the help of a professional attorney, who can ensure that a victim”s rights and options are protected and maximized through the process of auto accident insurance settlement negotiations.
Preparing for Insurance Settlements
When an automobile accident occurs there are a number of steps that a victim can take in order to protect and maximize their interests. It is imperative that a victim makes sure that they do not say anything immediately after an accident that might constitute admission of blame for the auto accident. Even if it is clear that a victim was in no way to blame for the accident, certain statements can be later considered damaging to a person’s auto accident insurance settlement. Filing a police report at the scene of the accident can also prove beneficial later.
After the accident a person will want to file a claim with their insurance company in order to begin the auto accident insurance settlements process. A claims adjuster will examine the facts of the case in order to determine liability and the extent of damages that were incurred as a result of the accident. If it is determined that you were more than fifty percent at fault in the accident you may not be eligible for compensation. There are exceptions; therefore it may be advantageous to consult with a legal professional who can determine your rights and options.
If you have suffered losses in an accident, an auto accident insurance settlements can compensate you for your damages. It is possible to receive reparations for related medical expenses, loss of wages or earning potential, pain and suffering, and property damages through auto accident insurance settlements.
Dealing with Insurance Settlements Headaches
Insurance claims adjusters will often look for ways to provide the minimum compensation for your accident damages. A legal professional can be your best advocate in an auto accident insurance settlement, helping to tie up loose ends involving medical expenses and property damage and to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries in an auto accident insurance settlement.
After being involved in an automobile accident dealing with your insurance company as well as the insurance company of the other party involved can be overwhelming and difficult. There are ways to make this process easier for you, your attorney, and for all parties involved.
Call your agent as soon as an incident takes place. As soon as you get home from the car accident, or even before you go to the doctor, call your agent. Review and understand your coverage before talking to your insurer or your agent. Read the “Coverage” and “Exclusion” sections of your policy in particular. Take and keep detailed notes of all conversations with insurance company representatives, and get names, phone numbers, and job titles of people you speak with, including their supervisor’s name, but do not allow them to take a recorded statement at this time.
Consider whether you might have insurance coverage under some other insurance policy as well. Many people have more than one policy that might cover a claim. In particular, look at homeowner policies, “umbrella” policies, and materials that came with your credit cards.
Take pictures. Take pictures of your destroyed vehicle and injuries if you can.
Be honest and forthcoming with your insurer. Even if it is embarrassing, it is better if your insurer knows all the facts. Failing to be honest with your insurer might invalidate your policy or cause a denial of coverage.
Understand the difference between replacement coverage and depreciated or actual cash value. If your policy provides replacement coverage, don’t settle a personal property loss for “actual cash value.” You may be required to replace the lost items before getting your full reimbursement if you have replacement cost coverage.
Keep all receipts for doctor visits, rental cars, hospital stays, meals, lodging, and purchases made in connection with time spent pursuing your claim or recovering from your injuries from the time of the covered event until final settlement with your insurance company.
Don’t give any recorded or written statements to your insurer until you are sure you understand your coverage or have spoken with a lawyer. Remember you are not required to allow the insurance company to record your telephone conversation. If you have doubts, do consult an attorney.
Don’t automatically accept the estimate or appraisal of your losses given to you by the insurer. Insurance companies will often try to get you to accept their estimator’s or contractor’s repair or replacement estimates, which might be a bit low. DON’T sign any releases or waivers of any kind until you obtain legal advice. A bad financial situation after a major loss may make it seem necessary for you to accept a premature, inadequate settlement from your insurer. But you may remember destroyed items after you have signed a release and it will be too late. For these reasons, it is advisable to consult an attorney before signing a release or waiver. Be sure to read the fine print on any payment from the insurance company.
Don’t accept any check that says “final payment” unless you are ready to do so.
Don’t ignore time limits set by your policy. Most policies require a signed proof of loss within a certain time limit. Be sure you comply with this requirement unless you obtain a written waiver from your insurance company. Many policies allow you only one year from the date of loss in which to bring a legal action if your claim has not been adjusted fairly. If your claim has not been settled to your satisfaction eleven months after your loss, consult an attorney immediately. A failure to do so could result in the loss of your right to sue.
Don’t forget that you have a contract with your insurer. Your insurer has a legal obligation to provide the coverage it promised to you. Be insistent about enforcing that obligation.
If you were involved in an accident in Texas, you can get our book “The 7 Deadly Sins that Can Wreck Your Auto Accident Case” mailed to you for free (together with a host of other free stuff.) You can either email us, call us, or fill in the form below.