After you have been in an accident, it can be difficult navigating the insurance claims process. There are many different potential coverages that apply to automobile, trucking or motorcycle crashes. Initially, however, the insurance companies involved will want to determine who was at fault.
TIP #1: Right after an accident, make sure you call the police after an accident and take pictures of all property damage to both vehicles. These easy steps will help prove who was at fault for the accident, which can potentially make more insurance coverage available to you.
During the claims process, your insurance company will also want to take your recorded statement. This is another tool insurance companies use to determine fault, the extent of injuries, and potentially reduce the amount of insurance available to you. You are obligated under your insurance policy to give a recorded statement to YOUR insurance company only. You do not have an obligation to give a recorded statement to any other insurance company.
When giving a recorded statement to your insurance company, be wary. Their goal is to lock you into a position that minimizes your injuries. For example, if they get you to say that you were not injured or don’t feel any pain, they will use that against you later after your symptoms materialize. This is especially unfair because they often try to do recorded statements soon after the accident when your body is full of adrenaline and you do not feel much pain. In fact, injuries from accidents typically develop and worsen days and weeks after the accident. Accordingly, it is a good idea to at least talk with a lawyer before giving your recorded statement.
TIP #2: Do not voluntarily give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company, and contact a lawyer before giving a recorded statement to your insurance company.
After liability has been determined and the other driver has been found at fault, the insurance companies will want to determine the extent of your injuries. At this point, several types of insurance coverages will become available. The property damage coverages on either your policy or the at fault driver’s policy will be available to fix your vehicle. It is preferable to go directly through the at fault driver’s insurance policy for your property damage because this avoids the need for you to pay a deductible. You will also want to determine whether your policy or the at fault driver’s policy has rental car coverage, so that you can get your rental car covered while your vehicle is being repaired.
As for your injuries and medical bills, three different types of coverage potentially apply: (1) Personal Injury Protection (or “PIP”) coverage; (2) Bodily Injury coverage; and (3) Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. The PIP coverage will come from your policy. That will pay for 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages, up to $10,000.00. The Bodily Injury coverage will come from the at fault driver’s policy. That will help not only pay for medical bills, but also for your pain and suffering, future anticipated medical bills, and ongoing damages that are expected to materialize in the future. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage comes from your policy. It covers the same types of damages that Bodily Injury insurance covers, and it applies when your damages exceed the limits of the at fault driver’s coverage.
Often, insurance companies will try to offer unrepresented injured parties a quick settlement aimed at covering their medical bills, plus a small amount of extra money. DO NOT ACCEPT THAT SETTLEMENT. IT WILL ALMOST ALWAYS BE WELL BELOW THE AMOUNT YOU ARE LEGALLY ENTITLED TO RECEIVE. Remember, every single insurance company is a “for profit” business with a singular goal of making as much profit as possible. If they can pay less on claims, they make more in profit. Without a lawyer to assist in the claims process, it is very difficult for an injured party to prove how much they should receive in current pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, and future medical bills. Additionally, without a lawyer it can be difficult to navigate between two different insurance policies (yours and the at fault driver’s) to ensure that you receive everything you are entitled to.
TIP #3: Contact a lawyer that specializes in handling automobile, trucking and motorcycle accidents to assist with the claims process. Doing so ensures that you will not miss anything during the complicated process and that the insurance companies will not underpay your claim.
Our law firm has dealt with virtually every insurance company out there. Some handle claims better than others. Some are more reasonable than others. We have an institutional knowledge of how to deal with all of them.
If you have been in an accident and you would like to discuss, call our Tampa Car Accident Lawyers and we can assist you during the insurance claims process,
call or text us for free at (727) 500-1010.