Injured in a Collision? Learn Everything You Need to Know about Filing an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident
Filing an insurance claim after a car accident isn’t easy. But, if you are entitled to compensation, filing a successful claim could be crucial for moving on from the collision. In this Car Accident Insurance Claim Guide, we cover the key information you need to protect your legal rights, including:
- Do You Have a Car Accident Insurance Claim?
- How Much Are You Entitled to Recover?
- How to Deal with Your Insurance Company
- When Should You Settle Your Insurance Claim?
- 25 Reasons the Insurance Company Won’t Settle Your Claim
- 10 Ways a Lawyer Can Help with Your Insurance Claim
- FAQs: Filing an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident
3 Important Facts You Need to Know about Your Insurance Company
Before we go too far, there are some facts you need to know about your insurance company:
Fact #1: Your Insurance Company is Focused on Minimizing Your Recovery
Insurance companies are in business to maximize their profits, and they do not maximize their profits by paying more than necessary. When you file a car accident claim, your insurance company has one goal: to get you to accept as little as possible. As a result, when deciding whether you should settle your accident claim, you cannot rely on the information your insurance company provides, and you cannot rely on your adjuster’s opinion. Instead, you need to make your own decision based on the advice of your attorney.
Fact #2: Your Insurance Company Does Not Have to Accurately Calculate Your Losses
When you have an accident claim, it is up to you to calculate your losses. While your insurance company has a legal obligation to handle your claim in good faith, this does not include calculating your losses for you. If you simply submit your medical receipts, the most you can expect to receive is reimbursement for your medical expenses. In order to secure compensation for your lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other losses, you will need to prove that you are entitled to this additional compensation.
Fact #3: Your Insurance Company Wants You to Settle Before You Know How Much You are Entitled to Recover
Insurance companies will often make a car accident settlement offer early in the process when an accident victim has suffered serious injuries. Is this because the insurance company is trying to be helpful? No. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite. The insurance company wants you to accept a settlement quickly so that you waive your rights before you know the full amount you are entitled to recover. Remember, once you accept a settlement your claim is over, and your insurance company will have every right to refuse to even consider a request for additional payment.
Do You Have a Car Accident Insurance Claim?
If you have a car accident insurance claim, then there are several steps you will need to take in order to make sure that you are able to secure a favorable insurance settlement. Before we talk about how to file a car insurance claim after an accident, you first need to know if you have a claim to file.
If your answer is, “Yes,” to each of the following questions, then you should consult with an attorney for help with your car insurance claim:
1. Were You Injured in the Accident?
If you were injured in the accident, it will be especially important for you to hire a car accident lawyer to help with your insurance claim. The costs of suffering traumatic injuries in a car accident can be substantial, and you will need to be prepared to fight for just compensation by all means available. All types of auto insurance coverage (except for property damage coverage) provide coverage for injury-related costs, and the amount of compensation you can recover will depend on (i) the extent of your injuries, (ii) what insurance coverage is available, and (iii) what other types of claims (if any) you can pursue.
2. Was Your Car Accident Fairly Recent?
All states have statutes of limitations for car accident claims. If you wait too long to file a claim, you will lose your right to receive just compensation. Additionally, insurance policies generally require policyholders to promptly file their claims as well; and, if you delay longer than necessary, the insurance companies may try to use this against you.
3. Are You and/or the Other Driver Insured?
In order to file an insurance claim, there needs to be insurance coverage available. While almost every state requires drivers to carry insurance, many people unfortunately choose to drive uninsured. If you have auto insurance (or if a member of your household has coverage), then you should minimally be able to file a claim under your (or your family member’s) policy. However, if the other driver has insurance, then you may be able to file a claim under his or her policy as well. The types of auto insurance policies that provide coverage for accident-related injuries include:
- Personal injury protection (PIP)
- Medical payments (MedPay)
- Bodily injury liability (BIL)
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM)
4. Have You Sought Medical Treatment for Your Injuries?
For a lawyer to be able to help with your insurance accident claim, you will need to have medical records that link your injuries to the accident. The best way to make sure these records are available is to see a doctor as soon after your accident as possible.
5. Do You Still Have the Ability to File an Insurance Claim?
When it comes to filing an auto insurance claim, you only get one chance to negotiate a car accident settlement. If you have accepted money for your accident-related injuries in the past, then you may be barred from seeking additional compensation. This is why it is critically important not to settle until you have discussed your claim with an experienced car accident attorney.
What if your answer is, “I don’t know”? That’s completely fine. An attorney can assess your legal rights and determine if he or she can help you file a car accident insurance claim.
What about Proving Fault?
You may have noticed that our list of questions for determining if you have a claim does not include a question regarding who was at fault in the accident. This is because proof of fault isn’t always necessary to file an insurance claim. Many auto insurance policies include “no fault” coverage (i.e. personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay)), and you could have an insurance claim even if you were at fault in the accident.
How Much Are You Entitled to Recover?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, determining how much you are entitled to recover will require a careful assessment of the costs you have incurred and will incur in the future. This includes both your financial costs (i.e. medical bills and lost earnings) and your non-financial costs (i.e. pain and suffering). In this section of our guide, we discuss five important factors for calculating both types of losses:
5 Important Factors for Calculating Financial Losses After a Car Accident
1. What is Your Diagnosis?
The most important factor for calculating your financial losses is your medical diagnosis. Once you have a diagnosis, everything else flows from how your car accident injuries have impacted – and will impact – your life. As a result, after a car accident, you need to see a doctor promptly. Even if you don’t need to take an ambulance to the hospital, you should still go to the emergency room or make arrangements to see your doctor right away.
2. What is Your Prognosis?
In addition to knowing your diagnosis, you also need to know your prognosis. Will you be able to make a full recovery? If so, how long will it take? Will you need surgery? If not, what ongoing medical care will you need? Will you suffer from a disability or chronic pain? These are all critical questions for calculating your financial damages.
3. How Much Will You Need to Cover Your Long-Term Medical Expenses?
The reason why you need to know your prognosis is that the damages you can recover include compensation for your future medical expenses. You should not settle for payment of the medical bills you have incurred to date. Your long-term medical care could cost far more, and you need to make sure you recover the money you will need in the months and years to come.
4. Will Your Injuries Prevent You from Working?
If your injuries will prevent you from working, your financial damages also include your loss of income. Similar to your medical bills, this includes your lost income to date and your loss of income in the future. In order to recover just compensation, you will need your medical records to reflect that you are unable to work as a result of your accident-related injuries.
5. How Much Would You Have Earned in the Future?
If you had not been injured, would your wage or salary have increased over time? The answer to this question is probably, “Yes,” and this is a factor that needs to be considered when calculating your financial damages as well.
5 Important Factors for Calculating Non-Financial Losses After a Car Accident
- Have You Incurred Financial Losses?
As a general rule, in order to recover non-financial damages after a car accident, you need to be able to prove that you have suffered financial losses as well. If you were not injured and have not incurred medical bills or missed time from work, you generally cannot pursue a claim for pain and suffering or other non-financial losses.
- How Does Your State Define Non-Financial Damages?
In some states, the term “pain and suffering” is used generally to cover all (or most) forms of non-financial damages. In other states, you must separately pursue compensation for your emotional trauma, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. In order to make sure you seek the damages that are available in your state, you will need to consult with a local car accident lawyer.
- Are You Keeping Track of the Day-to-Day Effects of Your Injuries?
How do you prove your pain and suffering? While there are various ways, one of the best ways is to keep a daily “pain journal.” Each day, take a few minutes to write down the ways in which your pain and suffering have impacted your life. Were you in pain when you got out of bed? Did you miss a dinner, party, game, or recital? Were you unable to perform certain activities of daily living? These are all factors that will impact how much you are entitled to receive.
- How Long Will the Non-Financial Effects of Your Injuries Last?
Just like your financial losses, you can recover damages for your current and future non-financial losses as well. With this in mind, you need to have a clear understanding of how long the non-financial effects of your injuries will last. The longer they will last, the more you will be entitled to recover.
- Does Your State Use the “Multiplier” Method or the “Per Diem” Method?
There are two primary methods of calculating a car accident settlement. Some states use the “multiplier” method, some use the “per diem” method, and some allow for the use of both. With the multiplier method, your non-financial damages are calculated based on a multiple of your financial damages (i.e. if your financial damages are $100,000, your non-financial damages could be anywhere from 1.5 times to 5 times this amount). With the per diem method, a daily rate is multiplied by the number of days you are expected to experience pain, suffering, and other non-financial losses.
To get an idea of how much you may be entitled to recover, you can use our Car Accident Settlement Calculator.
How to Deal with Your Insurance Company
If you have been involved in a car accident, recovering your losses will mean dealing with your insurance company. Unfortunately, not only can this process be time-consuming and frustrating, but it is also easy to make costly mistakes along the way.
The best way to deal with your insurance company is to hire a car accident lawyer to handle your claim for you. But, regardless of whether you hire a lawyer or you try to handle your claim on your own, it will be important for you to know what you can expect from the process.
5 Tips for Filing a Car Accident Insurance Claim
You have been involved in a car accident. Do you need to file an insurance claim? If so, how do you file, and how do you make sure you will be able to receive maximum compensation for your injuries?
After being injured in a car accident, it is important to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. Not only must you file a claim in order to receive compensation, but you may also have a contractual obligation to file under the terms of your policy. If you fail to file a claim, not only will you lose the ability to recover your losses, but you could also face the issue of having future claims denied (or even having your policy terminated) as well.
Here are five tips for filing a claim with your auto insurance company after a car accident:
Tip #1: Take Care of Your Health First
After a car accident, it is extremely important to prioritize your medical care. See a doctor you trust, and follow through with your doctor’s treatment recommendations. While you may need to see an insurance company doctor for an Independent Medical Examination (IME) eventually, you should not let your auto insurance company dictate who you see for treatment of your accident-related injuries.
Tip #2: Take Notes and Get Prepared
When you file your car insurance claim, you will need to provide sufficient details about the accident to allow your insurance company to conduct an investigation. However, you must also be careful not to share any information that isn’t required, and you should not answer any questions about who you think was at fault in the accident. Take notes so that you can stick to the facts when you call, and prepare yourself to say, “No,” when your adjuster asks questions you don’t have to answer.
Tip #3: File Your Insurance Claim Promptly
Following a car accident, it is important to file your insurance claim promptly. While you might not want to deal with your insurance company, this is a necessary part of the process—and waiting could make it harder to recover just compensation. If you have any concerns, consult with a car accident lawyer first, and you can even ask a car accident lawyer to file a claim on your behalf.
Tip #4: Confirm that Your Adjuster the Information He or She Needs
When you file your claim, confirm that your adjuster has the information he or she needs. You do not want to think you have filed a claim when in fact your adjuster is still waiting on more information.
Tip #5: Ask What You Can Expect Next
In addition to confirming that you have adequately filed your claim, you should also ask what you can expect next. When will you hear from your adjuster again? When will the insurance company investigate your accident? How will you be contacted? These are all answers that you have the right to know.
5 Tips for Handling Your Car Accident Insurance Claim
Filing an insurance claim is just the start of the process. Once you file, there are several additional steps you will need to take in order to recover just compensation.
Here are five tips for handling your car accident insurance claim—whether you try to handle your claim on your own or you hire a lawyer to represent you:
Tip #1: Do Not Ignore Communications from Your Adjuster
When you receive calls, texts, or emails from your adjuster, you need to respond as promptly as possible. Even if you don’t have the information he or she is requesting – or if it is not in your best interests to prove the information – still respond so that your insurance company cannot accuse you of ignoring your claim—and potentially deny coverage as a result.
Tip #2: Follow Up if You Don’t Hear from Your Adjuster
If you don’t hear from your adjuster, follow up. While your adjuster should handle your claim diligently, this may or may not actually happen. Your adjuster might be working on your claim, or your claim might just be sitting idle, waiting for you to keep it moving forward.
Tip #3: Get a Car Accident Lawyer to Help You
Even if you are diligent about responding to and checking in with your adjuster, this will not be enough to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. There are numerous additional steps involved, many of which require the knowledge and skills of an experienced car accident lawyer. The sooner you hire a lawyer to help you, the less chances you will have to make costly mistakes, and the more confident you can feel that you are doing everything necessary to recover maximum compensation.
Tip #4: Keep a File with All Claim-Related Information
It is a good idea to keep all of the documents related to your car accident insurance claim in one place. This includes documents you receive from your insurance company, as well as medical records, employment records, your notes, and any other records you may have from the accident (i.e. your copy of the police report). Start a folder, and get in the habit of putting relevant documents in your folder as soon as you receive them.
Tip #5: Be Careful about Saying “Yes” to Your Adjuster’s Requests
From giving a recorded statement to attending an Independent Medical Examination (IME), your adjuster will ask you to do several things that you are not required to do—at least not without appropriate protections in place. Be very careful about saying, “Yes,” to your adjuster’s requests; and, when in doubt, seek advice from an experienced car accident lawyer.
5 Tips for Evaluating Settlement Offers from Your Insurance Company
When dealing with your insurance company, you have one goal: To receive a settlement that covers your losses and allows you to move on with your life. However, if you receive a car accident settlement offer, you need to be very careful, and you need to make an informed decision about whether to accept.
If your injuries are serious and it is reasonably clear that the other driver was at fault, the insurance companies may offer you a settlement fairly quickly. This offer may even seem like a lot of money. But, if you receive a quick settlement offer without negotiating and without even submitting evidence of your injuries’ effects, you can be almost certain that the offer reflects only a small portion of the total amount you are entitled to recover.
Here are five tips for evaluating any settlement offers you may receive from your insurance company related to your car accident:
Tip #1: Make Sure You Know the Long-Term Effects of Your Injuries
Before you settle, you need to make sure you know the long-term effects of your injuries. How much money will you need to cover your future medical bills and prescriptions? Will you suffer from chronic pain? Will this pain prevent you from working? These are critical questions that you need to answer before you accept a settlement and waive your right to additional compensation.
Tip #2: Be Very Wary about Accepting the First Offer
As we mentioned above, you should always be wary of accepting your insurance company’s first offer. This does not mean that you should always reject the first offer, but it does mean that you should think carefully before you make a decision.
Tip #3: Make Sure You Know Your Current and Future Losses
When you have a car accident insurance claim, you are entitled to just compensation for your current and future losses. This includes current and future:
- Medical bills
- Prescription costs
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost income and earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of services, society, and support
Once again, if you do not know how much you are entitled to recover, you have no way of knowing whether a settlement offer reflects just compensation.
Tip #4: Do Not Let Short-Term Financial Strain Influence Your Decision
Many car accident victims experiences financial strain as a result of their injuries. If you are struggling to pay your bills and at risk of falling behind, you should not let this influence your decision about settlement. There are options available to you (i.e. sending a letter of protection or securing pre-settlement funding), and a car accident lawyer can help you manage your short-term financial needs while also making sure you take the time to secure a fair settlement.
Tip #5: Rely on the Advice of Experienced Professionals
If you were seriously injured in your car accident, you could be facing substantial losses and long-term physical (and psychological) effects. As a result, you need to rely on the advice of experienced professionals when seeking to obtain a settlement. Keep seeing your doctor as scheduled, and schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer to make sure you don’t settle for less than you deserve.
5 Tips for Dealing with Your Insurance Company After a Claim Denial
If you try to deal with your car insurance company on your own, there is a decent chance that your claim will be denied. There are three main reasons why the insurance companies deny accident victims’ claims:
- There is a legitimate dispute over who was at fault in the accident;
- The claimant made mistakes that justify a denial of coverage; and,
- The insurance company wrongfully denied the claim in bad faith.
Regardless of why your claim is denied, you need to speak with a car accident lawyer right away. It might not be too late to obtain coverage, but you could also be running out of time. If you have options, your lawyer can take over your claim and fight to recover the compensation you deserve.
Here are five tips for responding to a denial of auto insurance coverage after a car accident:
Tip #1: Do Not Assume Your Claim is Over
As we said above, at this point you should not assume that your claim is over. Depending on why your claim was denied, it may be possible to challenge the denial with your insurance company directly, or it may be possible to challenge your denial in court. Whichever of these may be the case, you owe it to yourself to keep fighting to recover the money you will need in the future.
Tip #2: Gather All Documents You Have from Your Claim
Collect all of the documents that you have related to your insurance claim. This includes documents you sent to your insurance company, as well as letters and other documents you received from your adjuster.
Tip #3: Print, Save, or Download All Texts and Emails from Your Adjuster
You should print, save, or download copies of all emails and text messages you have from your adjuster as well. Your lawyer will want to review these communications to determine whether you were misled or if your adjuster may have withheld information that you needed in order to prevent your claim from being denied.
Tip #4: Learn More about Why Auto Insurance Companies Deny Claims
There are lots of reasons why auto insurance companies deny claims. Some of these reasons are legitimate, and some are not. A lawyer can help you understand whether your denial is legitimate or you are still entitled to financial compensation.
Tip #5: Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Promptly
If you are entitled to compensation, you will need to hire a lawyer to fight your denial on your behalf. You should not wait any longer than necessary—and you can get started with a free online claim assessment 24/7.
When Should You Settle Your Insurance Claim?
When should you settle an accident claim? If you have been injured in a car accident, this is a crucial question—and you cannot afford to get the answer wrong. If you settle for too little, you could suffer the consequences for years to come. However, if you negotiate a fair settlement, you will have your medical bills and other losses covered, and you will be able to put the accident behind you as you move on with your life.
The best way to decide when to settle your accident claim is to get advice from an experienced car accident lawyer. An experienced car accident lawyer will have handled hundreds, if not thousands, of insurance claims—and he or she will know when to recommend settlement. You can hire a lawyer at no out-of-pocket cost, and there is no reason not to get legal representation for your insurance claim.
What Type(s) of Insurance Coverage are Available?
There are four types of auto insurance that provide coverage for injuries from car accidents. When deciding when to settle your accident claim, one of the first things you need to know is what type(s) of coverage are available to you. The types of auto insurance that cover injuries from car accidents are:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – Personal injury protection (PIP) provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages. It is coverage you buy to protect yourself, and you can file a claim regardless of who was at fault in your accident (with a few very limited exceptions). A fairly standard PIP policy limit is $10,000.
- Medical Payments (MedPay) – Medical payments (MedPay) is similar to PIP, but it covers medical expenses only, and policy limits are often quite low (in some cases only $1,000 or $2,000).
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) – Bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance covers other drivers and passengers when the insured driver is at fault in an accident. This insurance covers all accident-related losses (including pain and suffering), and policy limits are typically much higher than PIP.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) – Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance provides the same type of coverage as BIL insurance, but it is insurance you buy to protect yourself in the event that an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance (or any) insurance to cover your losses.
Why is knowing what type(s) of claim(s) you have important for deciding when to settle? The main reason is that different types of coverage generally have different policy limits. In many cases, the maximum amount you can recover will be determined by the applicable policy limit(s). So, for example, if your losses are $25,000, you do not want to mistakenly assume that you only have access to a PIP policy with a $10,000 policy limit. Likewise, if your losses are $100,000 and you have access to UIM coverage, you may be able to “stack” multiple UIM policies to secure full compensation even if each individual policy limit is only $30,000.
As you can see, knowing what type(s) of claim(s) you have is extremely important for knowing when you should settle an accident claim. If you don’t know what coverage is available to you, this is one of the first questions you will want to address with your attorney.
7 Factors that Will Influence Your Decision Regarding Settlement
Now, let’s say you have identified the coverage that is available to you, and you have filed an accident claim with your insurance company. What factors should you consider before you settle?
Factor #1: Your Financial Losses
The first factor to consider is the extent of your financial losses. If you have been seriously injured, these losses will fall into four main categories:
- Medical bills, prescription costs, and other costs related to your treatment and recovery
- Other out-of-pocket costs, such as transportation expenses and the cost of hiring a babysitter, nanny, landscaper, or cleaning service
- Loss of income, including all wages, salary, commissions, tips, and benefits you have been unable to earn as a result of the injuries you sustained in the accident
- Loss of future earning capacity for as long as you will either be: (i) unable to work at all, or (ii) forced to working in a lower-paying job due to a physical disability or chronic pain
Depending on the extent of your injuries and what you do for work, your financial losses could range anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. Before you settle, you need to know both (i) how much your injuries have cost you to date, and (ii) how much more your injuries will cost you in the future.
Factor #2: Your Non-Financial Losses
The next factor to consider is the extent of your non-financial losses. While these losses are often broadly characterized as “pain and suffering,” there are several different types of non-financial losses that can – and should – be considered when negotiating a car accident insurance settlement. These losses include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma (including post-traumatic stress)
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life due to physical disabilities and/or emotional trauma
- Negative impacts on your relationships with your spouse, children, and friends
When it comes to calculating just compensation for non-financial losses, there are two methods, both of which require an in-depth understanding of the long-term effects of your injuries. In many cases, auto insurance companies will not include any compensation for non-financial losses in their initial settlement offers. Before you settle, you need to know what constitutes a reasonable amount of compensation for these losses, and you need to make sure that this amount is reflected in your settlement.
Factor #3: The Evidence of Liability
When deciding how much to accept for your auto insurance claim, you also need to consider the available evidence of liability. In other words, is it clear that the other driver was at fault? Or, is there some evidence to suggest that you may have played a role in causing the accident as well?
The more questions there are regarding liability, the less willing the insurance company will be to offer full car accident compensation—because it will have a greater chance of winning if your case goes to trial.
For example, let’s say that you were hit head-on at an intersection, and there is traffic camera footage showing that the other driver ran a red light. In this scenario, there is strong evidence that the other driver’s insurance company is liable for your injuries. As a result, you should generally be less willing to settle for a low amount.
But, now let’s say that you were injured in a sideswipe accident on the highway. Both cars were speeding, and it is not entirely clear who was in a better position to avoid the collision. In this scenario, it may make more sense to accept a settlement—even if it is on the lower side—because you would have a greater chance of receiving a less-favorable result in court. However, as with all scenarios, you would want to consult with your attorney to make an informed decision.
Factor #4: The Offer vs. Your Losses
When you receive a settlement offer, you need to compare the offer to your losses. If the offer is equal to the amount of your losses, then it is a no-brainer to accept. However, the more the gap grows, the more difficult it will become to make a decision—until it gets to the point that it is a no-brainer to reject the offer and keep fighting for more.
Since calculating just compensation for non-financial losses is not an exact science, the amount you should be willing to accept will not be described by an exact dollar amount, but instead by a range. For example, rather than fixating on $100,000, a fair settlement might be anywhere from $90,000 to $110,000. While you can reject an offer that is within your range if you so choose, it will be important to understand that the risks of doing so might not necessarily be outweighed by the potential rewards.
Remember, once you reject a settlement offer, it is off of the table. You cannot change your mind. There are also additional costs involved in taking your case to court. So, while you might want to fight for more, this may or may not ultimately be in your best interests.
Factor #5: Your Legal Costs and Fees
When you settle an accident claim, the amount you take home is not the entire amount of your settlement. The funds you receive will first be used to pay off any outstanding bills for which collection was put on hold, and then your legal fees and costs will be deducted as well. Costs will be billed at the actual amount your law firm incurred on your behalf (i.e. for hiring an investigator or paying filing fees), while your legal fees will be calculated as a percentage of your settlement.
In terms of when you should settle your accident claim, it is important to focus on the take-home amount. This could be somewhere in the range of 50% to 70% of the total settlement amount. Your lawyer can tell you how much you will take home, and then you can decide if this amount is acceptable in light of the other factors we’ve discussed.
Factor #6: The Potential Benefits of Trial
If you do not ultimately accept a settlement offer, then the only alternative is to take your case to trial. While this will be a necessary alternative in some cases, in others it might not be worth it.
For example, let’s say you receive a settlement offer of $85,000, and you think your case is worth $90,000 to $110,000—as in our example above. If you go to trial, you might receive a verdict that is in your range, but:
- A favorable outcome is not guaranteed in a car accident lawsuit,
- It could take several months (if not a year or longer) to go to trial, and
- Going to trial increases your legal costs, and will typically increase your legal fees as well.
So, is it worth it? This answer is up to you. You will need to weigh your options carefully, and you will want to rely on your attorney for guidance.
Factor #7: Your Goals and Preferences
Finally, what are your goals and preferences? Are you set on receiving maximum compensation, no matter what? Or, are you willing to accept slightly less in order to resolve your case sooner and without the risks of going to trial? Everyone’s thought process will be different, and you will ultimately need to make a decision based on what you believe is best for you.
5 Factors that Should Not Influence Your Decision Regarding Settlement
In addition to making sure you consider all relevant factors, you need to avoid considering irrelevant factors as well. For example, here are five issues that people often let cloud their judgment:
Non-Factor #1: Your Short-Term Financial Needs
If you are struggling to pay your bills, it will be difficult to pass up on a settlement offer that lets you get back on firm financial ground. But, when you have an accident claim, you need to make decisions with your long-term best interests in mind.
Unfortunately, the insurance companies know that accident victims are often in financial distress, and they try to use this to get accident victims to accept lowball settlements. Be patient, ask your lawyer what options you have available in the short-term (i.e. a letter of protection or pre-settlement funding), and take the time necessary to obtain the full settlement you deserve.
Non-Factor #2: The Insurance Company’s Defense Tactics
In addition to trying to take advantage of your financial situation, your insurance company may try to use various other defense tactics as well. For example, it may make lowball settlement offers regardless of your financial situation, and it may try to blame you for your own injuries. You need to recognize these tactics for what they are – attempts to get you to settle for a fraction of what you are owed – and you need to avoid settling for too little because you misplaced your trust in your insurance company.
Non-Factor #3: Simply Receiving an Offer
When trying to answer the question, “When should you settle an accident claim?”, the answer is not, “As soon as you receive an offer.” While it can be exciting to receive an offer, you need to resist the temptation to simply say, “Yes.” You need to carefully evaluate the offer taking into consideration all of the factors we discussed above, and you need to make an informed decision based on whether the offer reflects just compensation.
Non-Factor #4: Concerns about “Losing” Your Settlement
When you are negotiating an insurance settlement, you need to avoid settling because you are concerned about “losing” your settlement. While it is true that you cannot change your mind once you reject an offer, it is also true that the settlement negotiations will generally continue—assuming you have a lawyer representing you, and assuming your lawyer believes that there is more on the table. Your lawyer can help you understand when rejecting a settlement offer is likely to litigation, and your lawyer can help you make an informed decision about when you should reject an offer and when you should settle your accident claim.
Non-Factor #5: Other People’s Opinions
Finally, the decision to settle your accident claim is a decision that you need to make yourself in consultation with your attorney. You should not rely on other people’s opinions. While your friends and family members may have the best intentions, the reality is that it requires in-depth legal knowledge to know when to settle, and this knowledge can only be gained by handling hundreds (if not thousands) of car accident insurance claims.
3 Examples of Possible Auto Insurance Settlement Scenarios
Now, let’s take everything we’ve covered so far and apply it in some hypothetical real-world scenarios. Here are three examples of situations that are fairly common with car accident insurance claims:
Example #1: You Receive an Offer in the Range of Your Total Losses
You were injured in a car accident; and, working with your lawyer, you determined that your total losses are in the range of $50,000 to $60,000. You receive a settlement offer of $50,000. Should you accept?
This is a situation in which it would be perfectly reasonable to accept the offer. It is in the range of just compensation, so you are unlikely to recover much more (if any more) if you take your claim to trial. If it is early in the settlement negotiations, your lawyer may advise that it is possible to secure a little bit extra, but you will need to decide if it is worth the risk to reject an offer that is reasonable under the circumstances at hand.
Example #2: You Receive an Unsatisfactory Offer, and Liability is Clear
You were injured in a car accident, and your lawyer’s investigation produced clear evidence that the other driver was at fault. There is plenty of insurance available to cover your losses, which total $50,000 to $60,000. You receive a settlement offer of $25,000. Should you accept?
In this scenario, you would most likely want to consider rejecting the offer. Not only is the offer low, but it is also not supported by the facts at hand. Your losses are significantly greater, and there is no question that the other driver was at fault. In consultation with your attorney, you would most likely conclude that you should keep fighting for more money.
Example #3: You Receive a Low Offer, But There are Questions Concerning Liability
This example is the same as Example #2, except it is less clear that the other driver was 100% at fault in the accident. So, should you accept the insurance company’s offer of $25,000?
In this scenario, you have a much more-difficult decision to make. The offer is less than the full amount of your losses, but it is also not entirely clear that the other driver is fully to blame. If you take your claim to trial, a jury could easily conclude that you are only entitled to recover a portion of your losses—so you might not end up with more than the insurance company’s offer. You have a tough decision to make, and you will want to take your time while relying on your attorney’s advice.
25 Reasons the Insurance Company Won’t Settle Your Claim
Reason #1: You Didn’t File Your Insurance Claim on Time
When you are injured in a car accident, you only have a limited amount of time to file an insurance claim. In fact, there are two deadlines that you potentially need to meet. All 50 states have legal deadlines for filing car accident claims (called “statutes of limitations”), and auto insurance policies typically specify deadlines as well.
While car accident statutes of limitations are usually at least a year (and several years in some states), the deadline specified by your insurance policy could be much shorter. Some policies also include general language (such as “a reasonable amount of time”) that gives the insurance companies flexibility to deny claims.
What you can do: If your insurance company won’t settle because you didn’t file your claim on time, you should consult with an attorney promptly. Even if you missed your policy’s deadline, an attorney may be able to argue that you still filed within a “reasonable” amount of time. Additionally, there are certain circumstances in which the statute of limitations can be “tolled,” resulting in more time to file your claim.
Reason #2: You Waited Too Long to File Your Insurance Claim
Even if you didn’t miss your deadline, your insurance company could still try to claim that you waited too long to file your claim. This is particularly common in circumstances in which a delay in filing prevents the insurance company from conducting an on-scene investigation.
What you can do: This is a common insurance defense tactic, and it is also unfortunately a tactic that is commonly used in bad faith. If you can demonstrate that you met the deadline for filing a claim and your insurance company had access to the information it needed in order to evaluate your claim, then you may still be able to secure a settlement.
Reason #3: You Didn’t Provide Enough Information When You Filed Your Claim
When you file an auto insurance claim, your insurance company should notify you if there are any issues with the information you provide. However, if your claim was missing information and your insurance company didn’t follow up (or if it did and you didn’t respond), then this could be the reason for your claim denial.
What you can do: Review the insurance company’s denial notice, and review the information you submitted with your claim to determine what (if anything) you may have omitted. An attorney can help you determine what information you need to submit and can seek to overturn your insurance company’s denial on your behalf.
Reason #4: You Admitted to Being at Fault in the Accident
When you filed your insurance claim, did you give a recorded statement? The insurance companies record call with their policyholders, and anything you say beyond reporting where and when the accident occurred is considered a “recorded statement” that your insurance company can use to deny your claim.
If you admitted to being at fault (or even possibly being at fault), then there is a very good chance that this is why your insurance company won’t settle. While this includes coming out and saying you were at fault, it also includes saying that you were speeding, that you weren’t paying attention, or that you did anything else that could have possibly contributed to causing the collision.
What you can do: Unless and until you hire an attorney to conduct an investigation, you have no way of truly knowing what caused your accident. The insurance companies know this, but this will not stop them from relying on your recorded statements in the immediate aftermath of your accident. An attorney can use the available evidence to show that your “admission” was misguided, and that you are entitled to compensation under the terms of the relevant policy(ies).
Reason #5: The Insurance Company Determined You Were at Fault
Even if you did not admit to being at fault, the insurance company may have still determined that you were at fault based on the outcome of its investigation (or lack thereof). While fault is only a barrier to recovering full compensation in some states, it can justify a complete denial of coverage in others.
What you can do: Make sure you know what type(s) of claim(s) you have. If you are filing a personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) claim, then you are entitled to coverage regardless of fault. If you have a bodily injury liability (BIL) and/or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) claim, an attorney can help you argue that either (i) you were not at fault in the accident, or (ii) your percentage of fault does not justify a full insurance claim denial.
Reason #6: You Didn’t Provide Evidence of Your Medical Treatment and Expenses
In order to recover financial compensation for your injuries, you need to provide evidence of your medical treatment and expenses. If you don’t, your insurance company won’t have a way to verify that your injuries resulted from your accident, and it won’t have a way to confirm how much it needs to pay.
Your medical records are essential not only for calculating coverage for your medical bills, but for calculating your lost wages and non-financial losses as well. As a result, failing to provide medical records is a common reason for complete insurance claim denials.
What you can do: It may not be too late to submit your medical records in order to prove your claim for coverage. In order to do this, you should not provide your insurance company with a medical records authorization (unless otherwise advised by an attorney), but instead provide your records directly. If you aren’t sure what records to submit or how to obtain them, a car accident lawyer will be able to help.
Reason #7: You Ignored Communications from Your Insurance Adjuster
An insurance claim is a two-way street. You need to hear from your insurance adjuster, and your adjuster needs to hear from you. If you ignore your adjuster’s calls, texts, and emails, he or she may will not be able to determine how much to offer in settlement of your claim.
What you can do: Review the voicemails, texts, and emails you have received from your adjuster, and determine what information you need to submit in support of your insurance claim. Submit this information, and be sure to respond promptly to all future communications. If you have any questions, or if your claim has formally been denied, you should consult with an attorney promptly.
Reason #8: You Made False Statements to Your Insurance Adjuster
Making false statements to your insurance adjuster is a form of “insurance fraud,” and it can result in the denial of your insurance claim. This is true even if you would have otherwise been entitled to coverage. Insurance companies will look for even the smallest misstatements in order to find ways to deny coverage; and, even if you unintentionally misspoke or made an assumption, this could still lead to a refusal to settle.
What you can do: If you are being accused of insurance fraud, you will need to hire a lawyer to help with your claim. If you made an honest mistake, your lawyer can show this, and he or she can work to get your claim back on track for settlement.
Reason #9: You Had a Pre-Existing Medical Condition
Pre-existing medical conditions are among the most-common reasons for car insurance claim denials. However, having a pre-existing condition is not a bar securing coverage. If you were injured in an accident, you are entitled to coverage regardless of your medical history. Unfortunately, this will not stop your insurance company from trying to use your pre-existing condition to deny a settlement.
What you can do: You will want to hire a lawyer to review your medical records and determine if they sufficiently demonstrate that your treatment relates to the effects of your accident. If they do not, your lawyer can work with your doctor to update your medical records so that they clearly reflect your right to coverage. If they do, then your lawyer can challenge your denial and potentially seek additional compensation for insurance bad faith.
Reason #10: You Ignored Your Doctor’s Advice
One of the most-common mistakes car accident victims make is ignoring their doctors’ advice. When you have a car insurance claim, you need to follow your doctor’s advice in order to retain your right to coverage.
If you ignore your doctor’s advice, your insurance company will blame you for your own medical expenses, and it will deny coverage as a result. This may be true even if your actions do not actually have any impact on your physical recovery.
What you can do: If you have ignored your doctor’s advice (i.e. by engaging in physical activity or returning to work), you will need to be able to show that your medical expenses are still a direct result of your accident. You will need your doctor to provide an expert medical opinion, and you will need to hire a lawyer to fight your insurance claim denial.
Reason #11: You Posted Information about the Accident on Social Media
When you have an insurance claim, your insurance company will look for any excuse to deny coverage, and it will seek to gather information from all possible sources. This includes your social media profiles. If you posted photos of yourself being active when you were supposed to be resting, or if you admitted to causing your accident online, your insurance company could use your own posts as justification for refusing to settle.
What you can do: While the insurance companies will often utilize accident victims’ social media posts, they will often selectively pick-and-choose information as well. If your insurance company has taken your comments out of context or painted a misleading picture of your post-accident activity, you will want to submit additional evidence to present the whole truth and overcome your insurance company’s denial.
Reason #12: You Were Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
If you were legally impaired at the time of your accident, this is almost certainly the reason why your insurance company won’t settle. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous, and the insurance companies do not provide coverage to individuals who make poor decisions that lead to their own injuries.
What you can do: Even if you were drunk or high behind the wheel, this does not automatically mean that you should be denied coverage. For example, if your impaired state was not a factor in your accident, then you may still be entitled to a settlement. However, this is a challenging situation, and you will want to consult with an attorney in order to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Reason #13: You Were Driving Without Your Glasses or Contacts
If your license indicate that you need to where glasses or contacts while driving, then failing to wear your glasses or contacts could lead to an insurance claim denial. This can be considered a form of “negligence” that can lead to vehicle collisions.
What you can do: If your insurance company won’t settle because you weren’t wearing your glasses or contacts, you should consult with an attorney. Depending on the circumstances involved, your attorney may be able to argue that your failure to wear your glasses or contacts was not a factor in your accident. This could be the case, for example, if you got rear-ended at a stoplight or in stop-and-go traffic.
Reason #14: You Were Under a Doctor’s Orders Not to Drive
Certain medical conditions can make it dangerous to drive. If you were under doctor’s orders not to drive when your accident occurred, the insurance companies will likely accuse you of being negligent and seek to deny coverage as a result.
What you can do: Was your medical condition a factor in your accident? If not, then you are still entitled to coverage. You will need to submit proof of the true factors involved, and in order to do this you will need to work with an experienced attorney.
Reason #15: You Failed to Submit Adequate Evidence of Liability
When seeking fault-based insurance coverage under a bodily injury liability (BIL) or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy, it is up to you to prove that you are entitled to coverage. If you have not submitted adequate evidence of liability, then your insurance company may not currently have an obligation to cover your claim.
What you can do: In order to keep your claim moving toward settlement, you will need to submit evidence of liability. This will require an investigation, and you will need to hire a lawyer promptly.
Reason #16: You Hadn’t Adequately Maintained Your Vehicle
Another common reason why insurance companies won’t settle car accident claims is because the policyholder’s car supposedly had not been adequately maintained. From work brakes and balding tires to past-due oil changes, the insurance companies will truly look for any excuse to deny compensation to accident victims and their families.
What you can do: If your insurance company is claiming that an issue with your car played a role in your accident, you will most likely need to hire a lawyer to get an expert report prepared. If an expert can demonstrate that your accident would have happened regardless of your car’s condition, then you may still be able to obtain a settlement.
Reason #17: You Did Not See a Doctor Immediately After Your Accident
One of the most-important steps to take after a car accident is to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you don’t, you might not have the evidence you need to prove that your injuries resulted from the collision.
Auto insurance only covers accident-related injuries. So, if you do not seek medical attention in time for your doctor to link your injuries to your accident, then this could result in a denial of coverage for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other injury-related losses.
What you can do: Hopefully you have seen a doctor by now; but, if not, you should do so promptly. You will also need to talk to a car accident lawyer to determine what you can do to still secure coverage.
Reason #18: Your Doctor Said Your Injuries Were Minor
If you saw a doctor and your doctor said your injuries were minor, your insurance company may refuse to provide compensation for your lost wages, pain and suffering, and long-term treatment needs. This is true even if your doctor’s diagnosis was incorrect—and even if you subsequently received a more-comprehensive diagnosis that accurately depicts the traumatic effects of your collision.
What you can do: Here, too, the best thing you can do is to consult with a lawyer promptly. An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to determine what you can (and need) to do in order to secure coverage, and your lawyer should be able to refer you to a local doctor who can help prove your claim if necessary.
Reason #19: Your Doctor Did Not Indicate that Your Injuries Were Accident-Related
Even if you saw a doctor promptly and received an accurate diagnosis, your insurance claim could still be denied if your medical records do not reference your accident. Your insurance company may claim that the timing is purely coincidental, and that without additional evidence it cannot make a determination as to liability.
What you can do: If your medical records are insufficient for purposes of your insurance claim, you should ask your doctor to update them. While this is something you can do on your own, you will be better off hiring an attorney to make sure your records are adequate and to calculate the full compensation you deserve.
Reason #20: You Didn’t Pay Your Insurance Premiums
Did you miss a payment on your auto insurance policy? If you are behind on your premiums, this is yet another reason why your insurance company may deny coverage for your accident-related losses.
What you can do: While failing to pay your premiums can justify a denial of coverage in some cases, it is not an automatic bar to filing a claim. For example, if your insurance company failed to provide timely notice that it was cancelling your coverage, then your denial may have been wrongful. You will want to consult with an attorney to determine if your failure to pay your premiums is an issue—and, if it is, to determine if you have any alternate options for seeking financial compensation.
Reason #21: You Don’t Have the Right Type of Insurance Coverage
There are four primary types of auto insurance for accident-related injuries: (i) personal injury protection (PIP), (ii) medical payments (MedPay), (iii) bodily injury liability (BIL), and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. The amount that you can recover—and what you need to prove in order to secure coverage—depends on the type(s) of claim(s) you have.
What you can do: First, you will need to determine what coverage is available to you. If you are seeking coverage above your PIP limit and no other insurance is available, then you may be out of options (although you could also potentially have a “third party” claim). On the other hand, if you are seeking liability-based coverage (i.e. under BIL or UIM) and have not submitted proof of fault, then you will want to hire a lawyer to investigate and present proof of liability on your behalf.
Reason #22: There are No Witnesses to Corroborate Your Version of the Accident
If your word is the only “evidence” your insurance company has to go on, you can expect to have your claim denied. Lack of witnesses is a common excuse for why insurance companies will refuse to settle accident victims’ claims for just compensation.
What you can do: While witness testimony is one form of evidence, it is not the only form of evidence that is available. Even if there were no witnesses to your accident, an attorney may still be able to present various other forms of evidence (i.e. traffic camera footage or cell phone records) in order to keep your claim open and work toward negotiating a favorable settlement.
Reason #23: Witnesses Reported that You Seemed Fine at the Accident Scene
In some cases, the insurance companies will rely on witness statements to deny coverage on the basis that the claimant did not appear to be significantly injured at the scene of the accident. Essentially, this is a way of accusing you of falsifying your insurance claim. But, the reality – which the insurance companies know – is that it is extremely common for accident victims to seem fine initially despite having suffered serious injuries.
What you can do: This “ground” for denial is often a sign of insurance bad faith. The insurance companies know better (or should know better) than to deny coverage on the basis of lay witnesses’ interpretations of an accident victims’ symptoms in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Consult with an attorney, and determine how best to approach this dubious denial.
Reason #24: You Accepted Payment and Waived Your Rights
Did you accept a check from your insurance company, believing that it was a “partial” payment for your injury-related losses. If so, you may have unknowingly waived your right to seek additional coverage. Once you waive your rights, you are no longer able to pursue your claim, and your insurance company won’t settle because it will have already legally paid what it owes. This is why it’s very important to make sure you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI, before accepting a car accident settlement. If you sign the papers and take a check, you can’t file again later if another injury pops up. This is often the case in instances of delayed whiplash after a car accident.
What you can do: If you accepted a check from your insurance company, you should not assume that this means your denial is legitimate. Your waiver may have been invalid, and it may still be possible to fight for the full compensation you deserve. Contact a lawyer promptly to determine your next steps.
Reason #25: You Made Other Mistakes that Justified a Denial of Coverage
In addition to the issues we have discussed above, there are numerous other mistakes that can lead to auto insurance claim denials. If your insurance company won’t settle and is telling you that you only have yourself to blame, you will want to discuss your claim with an attorney promptly.
What you can do: Again, the best thing you can do when dealing with an insurance claim denial is to consult with an attorney. In order to make sure that unnecessary delays do not further impede your ability to secure coverage, you should schedule a free initial consultation right away.
10 Ways a Lawyer Can Help with Your Insurance Claim
If you have been injured in a car accident, there are several ways that a lawyer can help you. From helping you find a good doctor to helping you decide when (and if) to settle, here are 10 ways an experienced lawyer can help with your car accident insurance claim:
1. Helping You Find a Good Doctor
While many emergency room (ER) doctors and general practitioners are very good at what they do, many lack specific experience treating patients who sustained their injuries in car accidents. When seeking compensation for your injuries, it is important to work with a doctor who can help build your claim alongside your attorney. A lawyer who routinely represents car accident victims will be able to refer you to a specialist near you.
2. Collecting Your Medical and Employment Records
Proving your claim requires proof of your losses. This includes your medical bills and loss of income. Your lawyer will be able to collect these records for you, and he or she will be able to address any issues before submitting these records to the insurance companies. As your treatment progresses, and as you miss more time from work, your lawyer can continue to collect the documentation needed to seek full compensation on your behalf.
3. Investigating the Cause (or Causes) of the Accident
In order to file a liability-based insurance claim, you will need proof that the other driver was at fault in your accident. This means conducting an investigation—and the investigation needs to be conducted as soon as possible. When you contact a lawyer about your auto insurance claim, he or she will take the necessary steps to initiate an appropriate investigation right away.
4. Making Sure You Do Not Miss Critical Deadlines
When you have a car accident insurance claim, you need to make sure you file your claim on time. If you wait too long, your claim will be barred by the statute of limitations. Any interim delays could make it more difficult to swiftly obtain a fair insurance settlement as well, and you will want to be able to rely on your attorney to do what is necessary to quickly collect the compensation you deserve.
5. Helping You File Your Auto Insurance Claim (or Claims)
While you have the option of dealing with the insurance companies on your own, this is a risk that you should not take. The insurance companies are not on your side, and they train their insurance adjusters to ensure that they pay as little as possible. Additionally, it is quite possible that you could have multiple insurance claims, and your attorney can do everything necessary in order to fully assert your legal rights.
6. Communicating with the Insurance Adjusters for You
While your auto insurance claim is pending, you (or your attorney) will need to be in regular contact with the insurance adjuster(s) handling your claim(s). As a car accident victim, this can be dangerous, as anything you say can potentially be used against you. By hiring a lawyer to communicate with the adjuster(s) on your behalf, you can avoid the risk of unknowingly and unintentionally jeopardizing your claim.
7. Calculating “Just Compensation” for Your Accident-Related Losses
When you are injured in a car accident, you are entitled to “just compensation.” This means that you are entitled to receive payment for all of your current and future financial and non-financial losses. Without a lawyer to help with your car accident insurance claim, you have no way of knowing what constitutes “just compensation” in your case.
8. Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement on Your Behalf
In addition to communicating with your adjuster and calculating your losses, your attorney can also negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf. This is a difficult process that requires legal knowledge and negotiating expertise; and, as a result, it is a process that is best handled by an experienced car accident attorney.
9. Helping You Decide When (and If) to Settle
If you receive a settlement offer, should you accept it? In addition to helping you evaluate settlement offers, your attorney can also advise you as to whether it is in your best interests to take your car accident claim to trial. If a fair offer is not on the table, you should not settle for less than you deserve.
10. Helping You Avoid Costly Mistakes During Your Car Accident Claim
When you are dealing with the auto insurance companies, there are many mistakes that can jeopardize your claim for just compensation. In addition to dealing with your insurance claim(s) for you, your attorney can also help you make informed decisions and avoid mistakes that could threaten your financial recovery.
FAQs: Filing an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident
Should you file an insurance claim after a car accident?
In most cases, recovering your losses after a car accident will involve filing an insurance claim. However, the insurance companies do not make this easy; and, as a result, it is in your best interests to hire a local car accident lawyer to represent you.
If you are concerned about your rates going up, this could be a possibility. While some insurance companies offer “accident forgiveness” and similar types of programs, being involved in a car accident could increase your insurance rates. However, choosing not to file a claim could potentially result in loss of coverage (insurance policies typically require drivers to report all accidents as a condition of coverage), and the costs you are entitled to recover could far exceed what you will pay in additional premiums (if any).
Does health insurance cover car accident injuries?
Yes, if you were injured in a car accident, your health insurance policy should cover all necessary treatment for your accident-related injuries. When you go to your doctor’s office or the hospital, you can – and should – provide your health insurance card to your provider. Your health insurance policy should apply just as it would if you were injured under any other circumstances.
In the end, your health insurance company may be entitled to subrogation from your auto insurance company or the other driver’s insurer. However, this is not an issue that affects your right to coverage. You can seek treatment with your health insurance, and the insurance companies will sort out which one ultimately pays amongst themselves.
Do car accident claims expire?
Yes, car accident claims expire. In every state, there is a law that places a time limit on how long car accident victims have to assert their legal rights. This law is known as a “statute of limitations.” Car accident statutes of limitations vary by state; but, in all states, waiting too long to file your claim is a mistake that you cannot afford to make.
Most statutes of limitations for car accidents are somewhere in the range of two to three years from the date of the collision. However, even if you have several years to file your claim (which may or may not be the case depending on where you live), you should still get started on your car accident insurance claim as soon as possible.
Does Car Insurance Cover Medical Bills?
Yes, car insurance covers medical bills. But, the extent to which the car insurance companies will cover your medical bills depends on the type of coverage that is available (or types of coverage that are available). If you only have a personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) claim, then the available coverage may be limited. However, if you have grounds to pursue a liability-based claim, then there could be far more coverage available.
Does Car Insurance Cover Lost Wages?
The same basic principles that apply to auto insurance coverage for medical bills apply to auto insurance coverage for lost wages. To determine whether (and to what extent) your lost wages are covered, you will need to review the policy (or policies) that apply to your car accident claim.
Does Car Insurance Cover Pain and Suffering?
For many car accident victims, the costs of their injuries extend far beyond medical bills and lost wages—they experience prolonged pain and suffering as well. The good news is that, in many cases, car insurance does provide coverage for accident victims’ pain and suffering. To accurately calculate the amount you are entitled to receive for pain and suffering in your settlement, you will need to work with an experienced auto accident lawyer.
When Can You Seek Punitive Damages for a Car Accident?
Punitive damages are available only in cases involving intentional, grossly negligent, severely reckless, or “wanton” misconduct. With regard to car accidents, DUI cases are the most-common examples, but there are various other potential grounds for seeking punitive damages as well. With that said, punitive damages awards are relatively rare (and in some states, they are not available at all), and you will need to consult with a lawyer to find out if you have grounds to pursue a claim.
How Can I Make Sure I At Least Secure an Average Settlement for My Car Accident?
When you have a car accident insurance claim, your focus needs to be on recovering your losses. While you might be interested to know what is an average settlement, this should not influence how you pursue your claim for damages. If you receive a settlement offer that reflects just compensation based on the circumstances of your case, you should accept. If you do not, then you should consult with your lawyer about taking your case to trial. But, what you should not do is accept too little (or reject a reasonable settlement) because you are focused on an average that is ultimately irrelevant to your car accident claim.
Will Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Increase the Amount of Damages I Can Recover?
Hiring a car accident lawyer will significantly increase your chances of recovering the full damages to which you are entitled under your state’s laws. There are many ways a lawyer can help with your claim—including accurately calculating your financial and non-financial damages. If you are serious about recovering just compensation and making sure you don’t settle for less than you deserve, you should schedule a free claim assessment with a local car accident lawyer today.