Being involved in a car accident is a stressful experience. However, the aftermath of the crash can be just as overwhelming because you need to visit doctors, prepare documentation for your claim, and deal with insurance companies.
Navigating the insurance claims process can be challenging, which is why you might want to seek legal counsel from an experienced lawyer to help you deal with the insurance company and fight for the compensation you need to move forward with your life.
In fact, all the stress associated with preparing paperwork and dealing with insurance companies could negatively affect your recovery. Our attorney at the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard can take away the stress so that you can focus on getting better.
Call (254) 220-4225 or fill out this contact form to schedule a free case review with our car accident attorney in Texas.
How Does Car Insurance Work in Texas?
All motorists who own a motor vehicle in the state of Texas are required to carry liability insurance. Auto liability insurance covers the injuries and property damage that the policyholder causes to others when a car accident occurs. In particular, auto insurance covers the victim’s medical expenses and the cost of repairing their damaged automobile.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, drivers must carry at least minimum liability insurance, including:
$30,000 per injured person
$60,000 per accident total
$25,000 for property damage
However, not all drivers in Texas have sufficient insurance coverage, while some motorists choose to drive with no insurance whatsoever. According to the Insurance Information Institute, an estimated over 8% of motorists in Texas are uninsured.
How Does the Car Accident Insurance Claims Process Work?
Seeking compensation after a car accident can be complicated. Many injured victims do not understand how the insurance claims process works. The claims process can be confusing and challenging, which is why a victim might need to hire an experienced attorney to help them deal with insurance companies and handle all legal aspects of their claim to ensure maximum recovery.
Below, we will outline five essential steps involved in the insurance claims process after a car accident in Texas.
1. Preparing Your Insurance Claim
If you were involved in a car accident, you would need to call the insurance company and report the crash within a reasonable amount of time, preferably 24 hours. Usually, insurance companies require policyholders to report a car accident within 24 or 72 hours of the crash, which is why you might want to review the requirements in your insurance policy.
Once you report the accident, you need to start preparing documentation to file an insurance claim. Before you begin the claims process, you might want to consult with an attorney to learn about your rights and understand what steps you can take to protect your right to maximum compensation.
2. Gathering Evidence for Your Claim
You need to gather as much evidence and supporting documentation as you can to build a strong personal injury case. Essential pieces of evidence for a personal injury claim include but are not limited to:
Your medical records related to the injury
A copy of the police report
Photos from the scene of the car crash
Documentation related to the property damage and vehicle repair costs
Your medical bills and receipts related to the treatment and surgery
Your journal detailing your pain and the effect of your injury on your life
Statements proving your lost income
It can be difficult to gather some of these pieces of evidence while undergoing medical treatment. For this reason, consider contacting our car accident attorney at the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to collect the necessary evidence and handle the claims process on your behalf while you focus on getting back on your feet.
3. Communicating with the Insurance Adjuster
Once you are done gathering evidence to support your personal injury claim, it is time to file your claim with the insurance company. When the insurance company receives your claim, it will assign an insurance adjuster to your case. The adjuster will reach out to you to talk about your claim and ask about the accident and your injuries.
When communicating with the adjuster, follow these tips to protect your right to fair compensation:
Stay calm and be polite. Understandably, being involved in a car accident can be both stressful and frustrating. However, taking out your anger on the insurance adjuster will not help. In fact, it can make things worse.
Refuse to give a recorded statement. Despite what the insurance adjuster might say, you have no obligation to allow the adjuster to record a conversation with you. Insurance companies use recorded statements to use the injured person’s words against them during the claims process.
Do not volunteer information. When speaking with an insurance adjuster, only say the things you are required to. Do not volunteer additional information.
Keep it brief and stick to the facts. Avoid making assumptions or going into too much detail when discussing your injury, accident, or other details.
Do not say that you are “okay” or “fine.” The words you use to describe your injuries can be used against you to undervalue or deny your claim. Describe your injuries in general terms and refer to your medical records.
Do not say that you are “sorry” or assume guilt. Do not admit your fault or use language that might sound that you are apologizing.
Do not accept the insurer’s first settlement offer. Sure, you probably need the money to pay your bills and cover your other expenses. However, do not accept the initial settlement offer after your car accident until you understand the full extent of your injuries.
Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident can be an overwhelming process, especially when the insurance adjuster is trying to convince you that they are your friend.
However, claims adjusters or other insurance representatives are not your friends. Keep in mind that they work for the insurance company and that their ultimate goal is to pay you nothing or as little as possible.
That is why you might want to consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney to help you communicate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your losses and damages.
4. Preparing and Submitting a Demand Letter
A demand letter is of the most important aspects of the insurance claims process. Without a well-documented demand letter, you cannot receive full compensation for your injuries and losses. That is why you might want to seek the legal counsel of an experienced attorney to help you with the demand letter to ensure that you receive an adequate settlement amount.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to wait until the injured victim reaches their maximum medical improvement (MMI) to prepare and submit a demand letter to the insurance company. MMI is the point in the treatment where further improvement of the condition is no longer possible.
5. Negotiating a Settlement with the Insurance Company
Once you submit your demand letter to the insurance company, the insurer will either accept your demand and move forward with the settlement offer. If the insurer does not agree with the amount, it will make a counteroffer.
You should not feel pressured to accept the insurance company’s counteroffer or initial settlement offer. Instead, consider speaking with your attorney to determine a fair settlement amount. Your lawyer will negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on your behalf.
Things to keep in mind when negotiating with an insurance company after a car accident are:
Determine the lowest settlement amount that you would be willing to accept and keep it in mind
Emphasize the arguments that strengthen your claim
Do not accept a settlement offer if it does not cover your losses
Ask the insurance adjuster to provide an explanation, in writing, for its low settlement offers
Do not sign anything until you consult with your attorney
Once you and the insurance company reach a settlement agreement and put your signature on the agreement, there is no going back. For this reason, it is vital to think twice before settling your claim.
Should You Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurer?
When the insurance adjuster calls you to ask about your accident and injuries, one of the things they will ask is to agree to provide a recorded statement. The adjuster may even make it sound like you are obligated to give a recorded statement or that your claim cannot move forward without recording your conversation.
However, you need to keep in mind that there is no law that requires you to provide a recorded statement - In fact, providing a recorded statement to the insurance company after a car accident does not benefit you at all.
Insurers often use recorded statements to get claimants to say contradictory things that may warrant a denial of the claim. The insurance company may also use your recorded statements to undervalue your claim.
If the adjuster asks you to provide a recorded statement, be polite and decline the request. Instead, consult with a lawyer and understand what you can and cannot say to the insurance company when handling your claim after a car accident. Your attorney will handle all communications with the insurance company to make sure that you are treated fairly and with respect.
Things to Watch Out for When Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Car Accident
When dealing with insurance companies after a car accident, there are certain things you should watch out for, including:
The insurer asks you to sign a medical release form. A medical release allows the insurance company to access your medical records. Unfortunately, the insurance company is not asking you to sign the release to ensure that you receive fair compensation. On the contrary, the company will sift through your medical records and history to find anything that might weaken your claim.
The insurer says that your losses are not covered. If the insurance company says that certain or all of your losses are not covered by your insurance policy, the company may be trying to minimize their own expenses by paying you less than you are owed.
The insurer makes a quick settlement offer. If you receive a settlement offer after one or two phone calls with the insurance adjuster, you are most likely dealing with a lowball settlement offer that is not sufficient to cover your losses and damages. Have your attorney review the settlement offer to determine if you should accept or reject it.
Communicating with insurance companies can be tricky. The insurer is not looking out for your best interests. For this reason, you might want to contact a skilled lawyer to protect your rights throughout the claims process and ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney to Help You Deal with Insurance Companies
Dealing with insurance companies in the aftermath of a car accident can be challenging and frustrating. That is why you might want to seek legal counsel to handle all communications with the insurer and ensure that the insurance company acts reasonably and fairly when processing your claim.
Consider hiring a car accident attorney if any of the following is true:
The insurance company makes a settlement offer that is too low
The insurance company is trying to deny your claim or say that your losses are not covered by your policy
The insurer is trying to blame you for your injury
The statute of limitations is set to expire soon
You suffered severe or disabling injuries
You are not sure how much your personal injury claim is worth
The insurance company is acting unreasonably, unfairly, or engages in other bad faith practices
If you were injured in a car accident, consider contacting our attorney at the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to protect your rights during the claims process and ensure that the insurance company does not take advantage of you.
We are committed to helping injured victims get the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Discuss your unique situation with our attorney by calling (254) 220-4225. Alternatively, you can complete this contact form for a free case review.