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Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Car Accident

calculating medical expenses

After a major car accident, you will have to deal with insurance companies. You’ll usually be relying on them to pay your medical expenses, as well as in many cases your property damage and your lost wages.

Yet dealing with insurance companies is never easy and it’s never straightforward.

Can you negotiate a settlement with an insurance company after a car accident?

Yes, you can negotiate. However, without a lawyer’s help, you are unlikely to receive a fair settlement if you were seriously injured in the car accident.

Bringing in a lawyer means bringing in the threat of a lawsuit. That makes a difference.

If you’re not seriously injured then you’ll usually be able to negotiate directly with the insurance company. I advise this all the time for cases where the car accident injuries are not serious and the property damage is light.

How do you respond to a low settlement offer from an insurance company after a car accident?

Tell them you’ll think about it and then call a lawyer to consult. You’ll usually get a lowball offer at first. If you had to go to the ER, if you have major injuries from the car accident, that offer is going to be far too low.

At least find out from a lawyer what your case is probably really worth. Find out whether you have a case worth pursuing and whether you could be owed a lot more.

How to negotiate with the insurance company after a car accident

First, gather the following:

• Your medical bills.
• Pictures of the car.
• A policy report.
• Medical records from your doctors.

You’re entitled to collect:

• The full value of your medical bills, including out-of-pocket co-payments. 
• Your wage losses.
• Pain and suffering.

While many people will try to tell you that you can use three times the medical bills to determine the value of your case, it doesn’t always work that way. 

The only real leverage you have, if you don’t have serious injuries, is small claims court for cases where the offer is too low. You could also go to a TV-style personal injury lawyer. They handle thousands of cases and they tend to rubber-stamp low value cases. They’ll often settle the case for you for even less than the insurance company would offer.  

For most people who have small accidents, take what you can get the insurance company to give, and be happy you weren’t more seriously hurt. The cases of the severely injured might be worth far more money, but they come with a lot more life-changing pain too.

What should you not say to an insurance adjuster after a car accident?

There are four things you should never say to an insurance adjuster.

1. Don’t ever talk about fault.
2. Don’t talk about your prior medical history. 
3. Do not talk about how much insurance you have.
4. Do not agree to be tape recorded.

They will use any of these mistakes against you. They may even come back and tell you that the accident was your fault and so they won’t pay a dime. They will tell you that your previous injuries aren’t their responsibility and you’ll have a hard time arguing the extent of the exacerbation on your own. Or they’ll try to kick the responsibility back onto your insurance company, which could get you into a fight with two companies or even raise your rates. 

How do I counter an insurance settlement for a car accident?

Make a demand for the insurance company to pay you based on your bills, records, police reports, copay, and out-of-pocket receipts. That means you need to be prepared with all of those documents!

As in all negotiations, the person making the demand starts high. The insurance company starts low. The two sides will go back and forth until there is either an agreement or an impasse. 

If there is an impasse, and you have a small case, go to small claims court. If you use a lawyer for a small case, they will take a cut and you will have to pay costs, so you could wind up with less money. If your case is worth less than $20k it won’t make much sense to go to court as the cost of litigating the case will generally be higher than the cost of going to court. 

In a serious case, the insurance company usually comes to you first, whereas you usually have to make a demand in a small case. 

You can always counter, but in a serious case, you won’t have a lot of leverage. If you believe your case is serious and your medical bills alone are in the thousands of dollars then it is time to call in a lawyer.

Settling a car accident claim with an insurance company

One way or another, once you accept a settlement the case is over. A settlement says the case is closed. Once you accept the money you will not be able to sue. In general, you want to try to at least get the worth of your medical bills, lost wages, and something for your pain and suffering.

If you had to go to the ER, call a lawyer to at least go over the facts of your case. You’ll be better off and you’ll have a better sense of what your case is worth. The lawyer will have the leverage to negotiate closer to what the case is worth. You’ll typically walk away with a lot more money than if you are dealing with the insurance company yourself. 

Statute of limitations

Remember, there are strict laws called statutes of limitations that apply to all personal injury cases. If you wait too long to file a lawsuit and blow the statute of limitations, you get nothing.

Were you driving for work?

Read my post on Car Accidents While Driving For Work: Who Is Responsible?

Back Injuries After Car Accidents: Here’s What You Need to Know

xray image

Back injuries from car accidents can be life-altering. They can bring years of chronic pain, impede your ability to work, and can lead to additional complications.

They should be taken seriously and handled with the utmost care. 

Here’s everything you need to know if you got a back injury in a car accident, from average settlements to what you should do next.

Continue reading “Back Injuries After Car Accidents: Here’s What You Need to Know”

COVID-19 Pandemic: Who Is to Blame, Who Is Liable, and Who Will Pay?

wait staff with facemasks during covid-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 virus has caused a global pandemic of the likes we have not seen for over 100 years.  It will likely be one of the most significant events in our lifetime.  This blog post will explore some of the legal issues raised by the responses and failures to respond to sickness and death caused by the disease. 

Is the Government Responsible?

When Donald Trump tells Bob Woodward on tape that he knew the virus was deadly in February and then told the world the next day that there was nothing to worry about, are there any legal consequences? Let’s look at some historical cases that will give us insight into the government’s potential responsibility.

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What Police Brutality Victims Need to Know About Their Case

police and car

What Can We Learn in the Wake of Police Shootings Around the Country?

The deaths of George Floyd and Jacob Blake are just the tip of the iceberg.  Cell phone video taken by innocent bystanders has opened our eyes to police brutality.  It has opened our eyes to the pervasiveness of racism.  It has exposed for the world to see, that in America, Black people continue to be treated very differently from white people.  In this post, we will cover some of the most important questions concerning cases of police brutality.

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Motorcycle Accident Law: Payouts When You’re At Fault

motorcyclist riding on the roads of northern california

In this blog post, we talk about motorcycle accident law. Once understood, we will be able to appreciate why it is often wrong to blame the motorcyclist when they are involved in an injury accident and how even when the motorcyclist is partly to blame, the payouts can be substantial.

Why do people always want to blame the motorcyclist?

Is it because of lane splitting by the motorcyclist?

Lane splitting is the practice of motorcycles traveling between lanes in order to get ahead of traffic.  No doubt we have all seen this happen on Interstate 80 in Roseville and Sacramento, Interstate 50 in El Dorado Hills and Placerville, and even Highway 49 in Auburn, Grass Valley, and Nevada City.

While this may make a car driver uncomfortable and even angry, motorcycle accident law teaches that this practice is not illegal and it does not mean the motorcycle is to blame.  Operators of all motor vehicles must use reasonable care.

Take the case of a passenger who opened her car door in traffic striking a lane spitting motorcyclist.  The lane-splitting motorcyclist was not to blame and recovered 100% of his damages from the car and passenger’s insurance companies as a result of their negligence.

Continue reading “Motorcycle Accident Law: Payouts When You’re At Fault”

Car Accidents While Driving For Work: Who Is Responsible?

car steering wheel and mans hand with view of traffic

Ever wonder what the consequences are if you or a loved one are in a car accident while driving for work? You may also wonder what your employer’s liability is for a car accident in a company vehicle.  Or perhaps you would like to know who is responsible for an accident in your personal car that happens on company time? This post will answer these and other questions about whether a car accident at work can result in an employer being responsible to pay for the damages.

It all starts with Respondeat Superior

A mouthful, right? The doctrine of respondeat superior dates back to 17th century England, where the law held a master or employer legally liable for the actions of his servant or employee. This only applied to acts done while the servant or employee was working.

A 400-year-old legal principle will help determine your case!

This 400-year-old powerful legal principle that makes an employer liable for the negligent acts of his employee while doing their job remains one of the most important aspects of determining how your case will turn out. Continue reading “Car Accidents While Driving For Work: Who Is Responsible?”

To Be Health Insured or Not To Be Health Insured, That Is The Question For Your Personal Injury Case

calculator, stethoscope and paperwork

You might be wondering what health insurance has to do with the personal injury cases I see every day. A portion of the settlement that you receive may be owed to your own health insurance carrier when you receive payment from the party that caused the accident. You may also personally take home a smaller proportion of the settlement if the other party advances medical payments. You may also wind up with more money in your pocket when you do not submit your medical bills to your own health insurance or if you did not have health insurance. To understand how all this can happen, let’s first discuss how health insurance actually works.

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Do You Have the Right Auto Insurance to Cover Car Accident Injuries?

automobile collision

The outcome of every car accident personal injury case is dependent upon auto insurance

The amount of insurance you carry and the amount of insurance the at-fault party carries affects everything from the damages to your vehicle, payment of medical expenses, reimbursement of lost wages, and payment for your pain and suffering.

If there is not enough insurance, you risk not being fully compensated for your losses.

Continue reading “Do You Have the Right Auto Insurance to Cover Car Accident Injuries?”