If only we had a dollar for every time we’ve heard “No thanks, I’m just going to try and fight my insurance company on my own – I don’t need a lawyer”. Like any other Do-It-Yourself (“DIY”) project, sometimes it is best to leave things to the professionals.
You might think your auto insurance company is there to help you (lots of warm fuzzy commercials come to mind), but this is not true at all. Don’t be fooled – that nice person who calls you to discuss your claim is not your friend. When the insurance company takes your statement, they want you to admit fault. They are in the business of paying as little as possible – to avoid paying claims at all costs. And they even have their own lawyers. That’s why it’s better to have someone help you navigate the process and negotiate on your behalf.
Car accidents are their own unique type of case – you have to worry about the condition of your car, your injuries, and whether any of your passengers were hurt. Depending on the severity of the accident, these bills could be quite large. If you’re partially at fault and the other party has experienced property damage or has been hurt, that complicates the case even more.
Let’s think about each of the areas in detail:
Whether you had a minor fender bender or a major crash, it is best to consult with professionals, both medical and legal, as soon as possible after the incident.
You may think that a simple fender bender is harmless, or that if you didn’t need to go to the ER that you had no injury. However, some injuries do not appear until weeks or months after the accident. For example, soft tissue injuries (i.e. neck and back) may manifest themselves as fatigue or stress headaches. If you did not go to the doctor right away, you may not be able to prove that these symptoms were a result of the accident. If you don’t file a claim at the beginning, you certainly won’t be able to get compensation for them. It’s important to work with a legal professional so we can get your paperwork started and point you towards the medical resources that you need.
With more serious accidents, the personal injury case can take some time to be settled – because your injury may take time to heal. You may have lasting effects from your injury (lifetime medical bills, pain and suffering, etc.). You may not be back at work for a long time (lost income). Insurance companies know this and want to settle your claim quickly before allowing more costs to accrue – but that isn’t in your best interest. Personal injury attorneys know these tricks and know how to keep the insurance companies at bay until the claim is “ripe”.
Also, important to note is that the insurance company may estimate your claim at face value – that is the amount due on your ER invoice. They certainly won’t be volunteering money to pay you for the items mentioned above such as pain and suffering or lost income. An experienced attorney knows how to look at similar cases and estimate the true value of your injury. If you or your passengers have experienced serious injuries – please do yourself a favor and work with an attorney to make sure you get the compensation you need.
Can you drive your car? How badly was it damaged? Can it be repaired or are you going to need to buy a new one? Did you need to get a rental? These are all important questions that impact the value of your claim – and it is important that you don’t underestimate the damage when speaking to your insurance company. For example, some people make the mistake of saying “Yes, I can still drive it”, but meanwhile they have sealed their broken window with a plastic bag and masking tape! In addition, insurance companies will try to minimize the repair needed; the adjuster’s goal is to estimate as low a claim payout as possible. But… fixing only half the car won’t really help you get to work, will it? If you have had significant damage to your vehicle, you need an expert to help guide you through the repair and reimbursement process.
Fault and the Real Cost to You
If you think there is any chance you are partially responsible for the accident, do not admit it to the insurance company or the police officer taking the report, and you definitely need an attorney. Admitting fault provides an easy way for the insurance companies to reduce the value of your claim, even if you have debilitating injuries. This kind of discussion can get tricky – and it’s hard for the normal person to negotiate when faced with an intimidating set of facts and a skilled negotiator. Please – let the experts handle it – otherwise you’ll find yourself with a lot of unpaid medical bills and bad credit, instead of a nice fat settlement check.
Even if you are NOT at fault, that doesn’t mean that you won’t incur any cost from the accident. Your insurance premiums will increase, you will be responsible for the deductible, and you’ll spend time away from your job and your family dealing with the problem. You see, often insurance companies don’t pursue a claim with the other side unless they are pushed to do so. When they handle the claim internally, someone has to pay for it – and that is you, indirectly. Why should you shoulder the cost of something that was not your fault? You don’t have to – the right attorney can help you to file a claim against the other side’s insurance provider, saving you time and money in the long run.
A good personal injury attorney knows how insurance companies work – we speak their language and know their tricks. We know how to fight their attorneys to make sure you get treated – and compensated – fairly.
Don’t go it alone – call The Funes Law Firm now at 305-733-3561.