When you’ve been in an accident, the last thing you want to worry about is dealing with insurance companies. Unfortunately, insurance companies play a crucial role in personal injury cases. As such, it’s important to understand how they operate and how to handle them effectively. In California, there are around 174,000 reported traffic collisions annually, and insurance companies are at the forefront of handling most of these cases.
How Insurance Companies Operate in Personal Injury Cases
Insurance companies are businesses that make money by collecting premiums and paying out as little as possible in claims. When you file a personal injury claim, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to handle your case. The adjuster’s job is to assess the value of your claim and negotiate a settlement. In California, according to California Vehicle Code 20001(a), if someone sustains injury, death or property damage due to the negligence of the other party, the other party is liable to compensate the damages.
Insurance companies use a variety of tactics to minimize payouts, including:
- Disputing liability: Insurance companies may try to shift blame onto you, even if you were not at fault.
- Minimizing damages: The adjuster may try to downplay the severity of your injuries and the impact they have on your life.
- Offering a lowball settlement: Insurance companies may offer a settlement that is far below the true value of your claim.
How to Deal with Insurance Companies
Dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating, but there are ways to improve your chances of getting a fair settlement. Here are some tips on how to handle insurance companies effectively:
- Communicate in writing: Insurance adjusters are trained to take advantage of verbal communication. It is important to document all communication, including phone calls and emails.
- Gather evidence: The more evidence you have to support your claim, the stronger your case will be. Make sure to document the accident and your injuries as thoroughly as possible.
- Hire an attorney: Personal injury attorneys are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and can help you negotiate a fair settlement.
How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Dealing with Insurance Companies
It’s easy to make mistakes when dealing with insurance companies, but avoiding these mistakes can help you get a fair settlement:
- Don’t sign away your rights: Be cautious of any documents that you sign, as they may include language that waives your right to future compensation.
- Don’t accept a low settlement offer: Insurance companies often make initial settlement offers that are far below the true value of your claim. Remember that settlement negotiations are just that – negotiations.
- Don’t miss deadlines: Every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, so be sure to file your claim before the deadline expires.
An Experienced Lawyer Can Deal With Insurance Companies
Dealing with insurance companies after a personal injury can be overwhelming. But, being informed and prepared can help you get a fair settlement. Remember to communicate in writing, gather evidence, and hire an attorney if necessary. Additionally, take care to avoid common mistakes such as signing away your rights, accepting a low settlement offer, or missing deadlines. If you are involved in a personal injury case, it is always best to seek the advice of an attorney, as they can help you navigate the complexities of California’s laws and regulations.