Fighting the Insurance Company After a Car Accident

Fighting the Insurance Company After a Car Accident

The insurance company may fight to withhold compensation from you after a car accident. Fighting the insurance company requires determination and negotiating skills, and you may allow a personal injury lawyer to fight for the insurance payment(s) you deserve.

While those who have not dealt with insurance companies may assume the best, the reality is that insurers do what is best for insurers. This insurer-first approach often comes at the expense of those who should benefit from auto insurance policies.

Fighting the Insurance Company After a Car Accident Guide

Why Insurance Companies Treat Car Accident Victims Unfairly

Fighting the Insurance Company After a Car Accident

Insurance companies, including auto insurance providers, are for-profit businesses. These companies hope to pay out less money through claims than they receive through premium payments. Therefore, if an insurer sees an opportunity to pay out less money than it has to, many insurers will leap at the opportunity.

When an insurance company gets a car accident victim to accept a claim denial or unfair settlement, the company:

  • Saves itself a potentially substantial amount of money
  • Frees itself from further financial liability for the accident
  • Considers the payout a victory for the company’s bottom line
  • Unfortunately, car accident victims are often too inexperienced to recognize insurers’ bad-faith tactics.

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    Bad-Faith Tactics That Auto Insurers May Use Against Car Accident Victims

    When you purchase an auto insurance policy, many policyholders assume their insurer will do right by it. Furthermore, beneficiaries of third parties' policies assume that another motorist’s insurer will also act in good faith. This is not always how it works.

    Auto insurance providers may use several tactics to avoid paying car accident victims fairly, including:

    Blaming the Victim for the Accident

    Depending on the state, a victim's fault for an accident can determine who pays for accident-related damages. An insurer may avoid financial liability by claiming an accident victim caused their own crash.

    Misrepresenting Coverages 

    Nobody understands insurance policies better than insurance representatives. Nevertheless, insurers may misrepresent the details of an auto insurance policy if doing so can benefit the insurer financially.

    Alleging That Injuries Existed Before the Car Accident

    An insurer may try to avoid paying for some or all of your injury-related losses (including medical care) by claiming that:

    • Your injury existed before the accident
    • The injury may have become worse because of the accident but did not originate from the accident

    You deserve total compensation for accident-related injuries. Your lawyer will rely on medical records and experts to refute any untrue claims of preexisting injuries.

    Alleging That the Victim Exaggerated Their Injuries

    Insurance representatives may directly state or imply that you are exaggerating accident-related injuries.

    Insurers may make these claims in an attempt to:

    • Avoid paying for costly medical treatments
    • Avoid paying for lost income or other injury-related losses
    • Reduce their total financial liability for your car accident

    Insurers may claim that you’re seeking voluntary medical treatment. Your attorney will again work with medical experts to show that all treatment is necessary.

    Denying or Undervaluing Specific Losses

    Rather than denying an entire claim, insurers may try to shave off compensation by targeting specific losses. For instance, an insurer may claim you can work but choose not to. Based on this claim, the insurer may deny paying for lost income.

    Insurers will save money anywhere they can get away with doing so. A competent attorney will not let insurers off the hook for any of your covered losses.

    Extending a Lowball Settlement

    Auto insurers will often issue a quick settlement offer following a car accident.

    Beware of such offers, as they often:

    • Contain less compensation than the accident victim deserves
    • Are meant to entice the car accident victim to accept (it’s easy money right now, after all) 
    • Free the insurer of further financial responsibility if the accident victim accepts

    You cannot typically pursue further compensation once you sign on the line to accept an insurance settlement offer. Therefore, if your accident-related losses prove more expensive than the settlement, you'll have to pay out of pocket.

    Always speak with an attorney before seriously considering accepting an insurance settlement offer.

    Using Hardball Negotiating Tactics

    An insurance company may act like it has done you a favor by offering a settlement, even when the offer is less than you deserve. Do not be mistaken. The insurance company owes you compensation, and paying you that compensation simply honors the duty that the insurer has agreed to.

    Insurance Companies Signed a Contract, and They Must Honor It

    When an auto insurer issues a policy, it hopes to collect premiums and never have to pay any claims on the policy. However, insurers understand the risk they face when they issue an auto policy. If an accident happens, the insurer must honor its financial commitments to the policyholder and anyone the policyholder harms.

    Auto insurers must:

    • Live up to the policies they issue, which are legally binding contracts.
    • Honor the insurance rules in states where the policy is effective, as these rules may affect coverage limits and liability for accident-related damages.
    • Act in good faith when resolving a claim.

    Your attorney will ensure that liable insurers honor their promises and responsibilities.

    What Should I Do to Fight for the Money an Insurance Company Owes Me?

    Hiring a personal injury lawyer is the primary way to protect yourself from insurers. Your lawyer won't only protect you but will actively fight for the compensation you deserve.

    Once you hire a lawyer, they oversee all communications with insurance representatives.

    Meanwhile, protect yourself from the insurance companies by:

    • Refusing to give any on-the-record statements: Insurance companies can use your words against you. Seemingly inconsequential errors in your speech can be devastating for your insurance claim. Therefore, it is wise not to make any on-the-record statements to insurers until you speak with an attorney.
    • Seeking medical attention: Certain car accident-related injuries, including whiplash, do not always produce immediate symptoms. Continue to seek medical treatment after your accident to ensure you have diagnoses for all injuries and a clear treatment plan.
    • Seeking an attorney as soon as possible: The sooner you find an attorney you want to lead your case, the sooner they can work to resolve your car accident case. Your attorney will help you make statements to insurers. Your lawyer will then lead negotiations and fight for the compensation you deserve.

    Never underestimate the persistence of insurance companies. Insurers know that some car accident victims are desperate for money, and the insurance companies may pressure you to accept its lowball settlement offer. Do not cave, and allow your lawyer to take over your case as soon as possible.

    Duties a Car Accident Lawyer Generally Handles for Their Clients

    Once you hire a lawyer, they will take the lead in seeking the compensation you deserve. An attorney's responsibilities often include:

    Protecting You from Insurance Companies

    Your lawyer will shield you from insurers, which means protecting you from:

    • Unwanted calls, messages, and letters from insurance representatives
    • Having to make recorded statements under duress 
    • Having to make an on-the-spot decision about accepting or rejecting settlement offers
    • Manipulation, threats, and other bad-faith tactics from insurers

    Insurance companies will refer them to your attorney if they have requests or questions. This will protect you from making any decisions that can harm your claim and may also protect you from the stress a claim can cause.

    Fault can be a crucial consideration in a car accident claim, especially if your accident happened in a fault-based insurance state. Fault can determine whose insurance covers what accident-related damages, so it is critical that your attorney secure evidence of fault.

    The evidence your lawyer collects may include:

    • Video footage: Your attorney will scour traffic cameras, security cameras, and any other sources of video footage showing your accident. Video footage can be decisive evidence of who caused the collision.
    • Witness accounts: Eyewitnesses provide valuable evidence in car accident cases. Their accounts are often unbiased and generally reliable in determining who is at fault for a car accident.
    • A police report: An officer's accident report may state who, in the officer's opinion, caused the collision. Like witnesses, law enforcement officers are generally unbiased and, therefore, reliable sources of information.
    • Expert testimony: Experts may use accident scene photos, witness accounts, and other evidence to testify about the fault. An expert may even reconstruct how an accident happened using digital or physical exhibits. 

    Your attorney will get as much evidence as possible, as they’ll want to leave no doubt about who caused your accident.

    Documenting the Accident Victim’s Damages

    Your lawyer will use evidence to establish fault, and they’ll use documentation to show how your accident has caused you harm.

    Documentation of your damages may include:

    • Invoices: Your lawyer will get copies of invoices for vehicle repairs, temporary transportation, replacement of damaged property, and any other non-medical expenses resulting from your accident.
    • Medical bills: Your attorney will also get copies of all accident-related medical bills. 
    • Proof of professional damages: Testimony from your employer, past income statements, work records, and your own testimony may help prove professional damages from your accident. 
    • Testimony from mental health professionals: Pain and suffering is important damage in most car accident cases. To establish the pain and suffering you've experienced from your car accident, your lawyer may hire mental health experts to provide diagnoses of your psychological and emotional conditions.

    Your attorney will work to document each of your accident-related damages. The more documentation they can secure, the stronger their case for fair compensation.

    Negotiating a Settlement with Insurance Companies

    Your attorney is your representative in settlement negotiations.

    Your lawyer will fight for a fair settlement by:

    • Presenting evidence of fault
    • Citing any clauses in the insurance policy that are relevant to your case
    • Presenting the calculation of your damages
    • Presenting documentation of your damages
    • Engaging in direct negotiations with insurance representatives

    No two settlement negotiations unfold in the same manner. Your lawyer should have a general plan, though, and be experienced enough to adapt to the unpredictable nature of negotiations.

    Most car accident victims get compensation through settlements. However, some cases require personal injury lawyers to take cases to trial.

    When searching for a lawyer, ask the law firm whether they will take your case to trial. If you don't get a straight answer, consider finding a law firm willing to go to court if necessary.

    How a Personal Injury Lawyer Will Combat Bad-Faith Tactics by Insurers

    As part of their stable responsibilities, an attorney will need to address any bad-faith tactics by insurers.

    They may fight back against bad-faith tactics by:

    • Standing firm behind their calculation of losses: Once your attorney determines how much compensation you deserve for your losses, your lawyer should not relent from that calculation. No matter how hard insurers press to pay less than you deserve, your lawyer should stand firm behind their target settlement figure.
    • Citing evidence and reliable witness accounts: If insurers try to challenge fault or refute the facts of your accident, your lawyer should rely on irrefutable evidence and witness accounts.
    • Citing specifics from insurance policies: When insurers attempt to misrepresent the details of an insurance policy, your attorney can refute the misrepresentations with language directly from the policy.

    Experienced lawyers have dealt with insurers many times. They are ready to overcome the challenges your case will present.

    What Losses Can Car Accident Victims Get Compensation For?

    Covered losses in car accident cases can include:

    • Property expenses (including repairs for your vehicle
    • Medical bills
    • Pain and suffering
    • Professional losses (including lost income)
    • Treatment for pain and suffering

    Every victim has a unique story that includes damages specific to their accident and injuries. Your personal injury attorney will document, calculate, and seek compensation for your damages.

    Let a Lawyer Fight for Your Financial Recovery After a Car Accident

    You may have a limited time to file a car accident case, so don’t wait to research lawyers in your area. The sooner you hire a personal injury attorney, the quicker they can start fighting for the compensation you deserve.