Nobody wants to be involved in a car accident, but the reality is that these incidents are going to occur. In most cases, the process of obtaining compensation in the aftermath of a crash is going to involve car insurance carriers. However, many people are not familiar with the process involved in a car insurance settlement. While this may seem straightforward, you need to know what to expect in order to maximize the compensation you receive. Read on to learn more about the car insurance settlement process and if you have any additional questions, reach out to an experienced Santa Ana car accident lawyer.
Essentially, the car insurance settlement process begins before you even talk to the insurer. At the scene of a crash, you should do what you can to gather as much evidence as possible. This includes using a smartphone or other camera to take pictures of everything at the scene (damages to vehicles, scattered debris, traffic and weather conditions, any injuries, and more).
You also need to get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the crash, as well as the name, driver’s license number, and insurance information of any other driver involved.
Most insurance carriers require that you report the incident to them as soon as possible. If you are able to do so, you should make your report the same day that the incident occurs. All your initial report should include is information pertaining to where the incident occurred and the name and insurance information of the other drivers. You do not need to go into detail at this point with your insurance carrier.
You need to ensure you seek medical care for any injuries you sustain in an accident. Even if your injuries seem relatively minor, you still need to go to a doctor and have a trained medical professional make a determination as to what kind of treatment you need. The insurance carriers will be watching your moves very closely, and if you decided not to seek medical treatment, this could lower your overall settlement.
Soon after an accident occurs, a claims adjuster that works for the insurance carrier will be in contact with you. As friendly as the claims adjuster may seem, please understand that they work for the insurance carrier, and their goal is to lower the amount of money they pay you in a settlement. Your phone calls will likely be recorded, and they may ask you to sign a release authorizing them to view your medical records. Do not give a recorded statement, and do not sign over your medical records. A claims adjuster could use your past medical history to explain any of your current pain and suffering symptoms.
You will likely be presented with a quick settlement offer for your car accident claim. It can be tempting to take an initial settlement, particularly if you have any medical bills incoming and if you need to get your car repaired. Please understand that initial settlement offers are usually well below what you should be receiving for your claim. This settlement offer should be the starting point of negotiations with the insurance carrier, not the endpoint.
If you disagree with the initial settlement offer, you should counter with a demand letter outlining all of your expenses caused by the car accident and asking for a fair settlement. If the insurance carrier refuses to pay you what you deserve, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance carrier.