Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is devastating, but it gets worse once you start pursuing compensation for your injuries. No matter how straightforward your accident case is, insurance providers will do their best to pay less compensation than they should. Engaging a personal injury attorney can make a massive difference in the kind of payment you receive in the end.
If you are in San Diego, CA, and are worried about how to deal with insurance adjusters, get in touch with us. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we have a team of excellent personal injury attorneys who will take you through all the processes, protecting your rights. We will not rest until we make sure that you are getting the compensation you deserve.
What Happens After Car Accidents in California?
No one is prepared for any type of accident, including a car accident. Everyone hopes that they will be safe on the road as they drive to and fro various destinations every day. However, car accidents happen when we least expect, leaving a trail of destruction behind. First, the accident victim experiences shock, and confusion on what to do next. Getting medical help should be your main priority, and then you can deal with your insurer afterward.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident, you or other people in the accident will call the police. Law enforcement officers will ensure that everyone that has been injured is treated and that the cause of the accident has been determined. In personal injury cases, another person/entity will be held responsible for the accident. This means the accident victim will be allowed to pursue compensation from the negligent party for all the damages incurred in the car accident. Sooner or later, you will have to deal with an insurance provider for payment.
Whether you are filing a compensation claim with your insurer or the other driver's insurer, it is essential to be well prepared. Insurance companies are in business and will do all they can to pay less than you are asking for. If you are not careful, you may end up receiving a lot less money than you deserve as compensation for your damages. The first step you shall take is filing a claim with the insurer. The company will, then, get your statement, whether recorded or written. Sometimes an examination under oath can be conducted to ensure that you are truthful enough with the information you are providing.
The insurance company will conduct its investigations to determine the cause and extent of the accident. Other drivers, as well as eye-witnesses, may be called in to provide statements. The company will also require your medical records and other documents showing the damages you have incurred after the accident. The company will also engage the services of a qualified insurance adjuster, who will ascertain the extent of the accident's damage. He/she will provide an estimate of the total losses, which is the figure the insurer will be working with during its negotiations. If more damages are incurred during the talks, the adjuster may be called in again to inspect and evaluate the additional costs.
Preparing for Car Accident Insurance Claim Negotiations
The most challenging part of any personal injury settlement is negotiating with an insurance company. It could get worse if you have been injured in a car accident. However, this is the point where you need to be smarter than before. It is because the outcome of this negotiation will determine the amount of money you will get in compensation in the end. Understanding the basics of these negotiations will help a lot once the time to pursue compensation comes.
It is advisable to initiate the claim for compensation immediately after the accident. Among the first people, you should call after the accident is your insurance provider. This is the time all the details about the accident are still fresh in your mind. It is also the time you can report all the injuries you have incurred as well as the state of your vehicle after the accident. Kick-starting the process immediately after the accident will also ensure that you receive the compensation on time to recover from all your damages.
Gather as much information about the accident as you can. It is crucial to maintain accurate records concerning the accident. At the accident scene, for instance, you should have gathered enough information about the other driver, witnesses who might be willing to provide their statements about the accident, and your account of how the accident occurred. You should also have taken enough pictures and videos of the accident scene, your injuries, and the state of your vehicle.
Included in your record should be a police report about the accident, doctor visits, the bills incurred, and bills about your car repairs. Anything that you feel will be useful during the negotiations should be stored appropriately in chronological order. All this information, as well as the documents, will make the talks smoother and faster.
Make your calculations and come up with an amount you feel is fair enough to receive as compensation for your damages. This should be done before sending the demand letter to the insurance provider. You should be aware of what you trust is the worth of your claim. Some of the things that could help you come up with this amount include:
- The cost of all your medical services and other related expenses
- Any income amount you may have lost while recovering from your injuries
- The compensation you believe is fair for any permanent disability you might have suffered.
- The cost for any long-term medical care you might need
- The cost of replacing or repairing your car and any other damaged property in the accident
From this information, you will have an idea of an amount of money you could accept as compensation from the insurance provider.
Finally, prepare and send a comprehensive letter of demand to the insurance provider. The demand letter should describe the accident in detail, all the injuries you incurred, the medical care you have received so far, any ongoing medical care, the state of your vehicle after the accident, and all the other losses incurred after the accident. Let the insurer know what you are demanding as a result of all that. The insurance provider will respond, and in most cases, with an amount that is below what you have indicated in the demand letter. To be safe, ask for a little more, maybe 20% more than what you are willing to settle for. Note that all the information you provide in this demand letter should be accompanied by documented evidence.
Have everything in writing. Any communication with the insurer should be in detailed notes, including all the company's settlement offers.Once you reach an agreement, ask the company to do it in writing, and ensure that it is signed by all the parties involved. Do not be quick to take the first offer, as it might be too low. Again, the company may be testing to verify that you understand the worth of your claim.
What Role Do Insurance Adjusters Play?
Your insurance provider will assign an adjuster to your case once you get in touch with it after a car accident. The type of adjuster you will get will depend on the nature of your accident. The adjuster you are likely to get, in this case, is the one that will handle your liability claims. His/her primary role is to investigate the details of the accident and determine the company's liability in your case. The adjuster will require the police report, pictures of the damaged vehicle, and recorded statements by anyone involved in the accident and witnesses who might be at the scene of the accident.
All this information is needed by the insurance provider to set a reserve, which is the amount of money the company may be required to pay if indeed the person or entity they have insured is at fault for the accident. Once the investigation has been done, and the reserve is set, the adjuster will be required by the company to look into the injuries you sustained in the accident as well as the medical care you received. Note that he/she will have to ensure that the injuries you indicated in your claim letter are indeed what you sustained in the car accident.
For that reason, he/she may have to look into your medical history to ensure that you did not have any medical issues before the accident, which you might have included in your claim. Most adjusters will use advanced computer software to analyze medical records and be sure that the report they present to the insurance provider is accurate. Using the adjuster's report, the insurance company will suggest a settlement value to the adjuster.
From that information, we can conclusively say that the adjuster is the one that will settle the case to the best interests of the insurer. Therefore, he/she will not, in most cases, consider what is best for you, but what is best for his/her employer. That is why the first offer you may receive from the insurance company is probably the lowest you could have thought of. Since the adjuster will be working solely for the insurance company, he/she will automatically be working against you. That is why you need to learn how best to deal with an insurance adjuster and how you can maximize your chances for favorable compensation.
The Facts About Insurance Adjusters
The most frequently asked question about insurance adjusters is whether or not they are ever on the claimant's side. The truth is that working with an insurance adjuster will be the main obstacle you will encounter when filing a personal injury claim after an accident. Since the company is using an adjuster to negotiate a settlement with you, it is advisable to get yourself an experienced personal injury attorney. You also need a qualified person working for you, to negotiate for a better settlement on your behalf.
Again, an insurance adjuster will make it difficult for you to get what you deserve as compensation. Most of these professionals work on commissions. The insurance company will pay more to anyone that is willing to save it more money. It is because these companies are profit-making organizations, whose purpose is to make as much money as they could. When the company pays you less in compensation, it gets to save more for its shareholders. As the insurance company's employee, the adjuster's role will be to try and hold back as much money from you as possible, to make the company more profits.
For those two reasons, you need to be careful when dealing with them. An insurance adjuster will appear to you as friendly and concerned, just to get you to accept their first offer. If you already have in mind an amount of money you are willing to settle for, negotiate to the last coin. Another thing that might help you is to try not to say much to insurance adjusters. Any incriminating information you give them will be used against you and could be used to deny you the compensation you deserve. Note that the insurance company will be willing to use all tricks to avoid paying or to at least pay less. Insurance adjusters will, therefore, be very keen on what you say. They will record your statements, which would later be used out of context to deny you the compensation. If possible, let the adjuster speak to your personal injury attorney directly. This way, you will avoid anything that could jeopardize your case.
How Best To Deal with Insurance Adjusters
There are several tips out there that can help you deal smartly with an insurance adjuster for the best possible outcome. Some of these include:
Understand the Adjuster’s Motivation
Negotiating with the insurance company is just one way through which you can get your compensation. The other way is filing a lawsuit in a civil court against the insurance company. While you have two options, an insurance company will do its best to avoid a lawsuit. It is because civil courts will, more often than not, rule in favor of the injured person. To an insurance company, this could mean that the court may compel it to pay even more than it is willing, as compensation to the claimant.
The primary motivation for the adjuster, in this case, will be to settle the matter as soon as possible. Giving him/her a hard time can get you the compensation you truly deserve, especially if you are still willing to settle the matter out of court.
Understand What Adjusters Look For
As mentioned above, the work of an insurance claim adjuster is to determine the amount the insurance company is expected to pay as a settlement for a claim. To satisfy his/her employer, the adjuster will try to look into issues in your request that could reduce the value of your application. The very first thing the adjuster will consider is whether or not your claim is fraudulent. For that reason, you need to be as truthful as possible with the information you are providing in your application. Again, you want to be honest with the injuries sustained in the accident, since the adjuster will be looking into that as well.
Know What to Say/Not to Say to an Adjuster
As previously mentioned, what you say or not say can significantly influence the outcome of your personal injury case. If you are already working with a personal injury attorney, you may want to refrain yourself from saying anything to a claims adjuster or anyone else regarding the case. If you are working alone, it is essential to know what to tell an adjuster and what to keep to yourself to be on the safe side.
For starters, your adjuster will need your basic information, which may include your name, address, as well as contact information. Keep any additional information to yourself, including your employment status.
Regarding the accident, you should limit the information you provide to the adjuster. You could, for instance, give the date, location, and time for the accident, as well as information about other vehicles that might have been involved in the accident and the contact of any eye-witness whose information you might have. Do not be tempted to give your personal account of how the accident might have happened. Also, it is not essential to provide the adjuster with your statement regarding the accident, recorded or written.
There are statements that you should avoid making, as these could be used by the adjuster against you to deny your claim. Some of these statements include:
- An apology - Apologizing will automatically be taken to mean that you are admitting fault in the car accident. if you are dealing with an adjuster from the responsible party’s insurance company, he/she may use such a statement to either reduce or deny your claim
- Saying that you are fine - The adjuster will ask how you are feeling to trigger such a response. While it may seem like an innocent response, he/she can use that statement to report that you did not suffer any injuries in the car accident.
- Speculating about injuries - If you are not sure about your injuries, do not say anything if asked about them. Talking about your injuries before a medical diagnosis could cause severe problems after that.
- Making recorded statements - Your adjuster will try to trick you into providing a recorded statement during your initial call. Note that anything you say at that instant could sabotage your case.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury cases can be overwhelming, especially if you have suffered physical injuries. You need to concentrate more on your recovery, and may not find enough time or energy to pursue compensation. Engaging an experienced personal injury attorney from the beginning of the process will lift the burden off your shoulders. There is so much that an attorney can do for you in such a case, including:
- Initiating the communication between you and the insurance company
- Obtaining all the necessary evidence to prove liability
- Organizing the medical records, bills and other documents that will be used in the negotiation
- Obtaining any missing medical records that could be required by the insurance company
- Preparing and sending a demand letter on your behalf, to the insurance company
- Providing any information the insurance adjuster might need to verify your claim
- Negotiating with the adjuster on your behalf, for a fair settlement
- Filing a lawsuit in a civil court in case your application was not settled out of court
- Organizing evidence and presenting it before a judge to prove damages incurred and liability
- Protecting your rights throughout the legal process
- Negotiating with the adjuster or the defense attorney for a satisfactory settlement
Personal injury attorneys have skills that you may be lacking, to ensure that the outcome of the case is favorable to you. An experienced attorney will have enough expertise in handling all kinds of insurance adjusters to know what to do to get a fair settlement out of your case. He/she will also know how much your case is worth and will be unwilling to settle for less.
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may want to avoid dealing directly with an insurance adjuster. The help of an experienced personal injury attorney can make a lot of difference in your case outcome. Therefore, if you are in San Diego, CA, and you are about to negotiate with an insurance company, call us at 619-478-4059. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we have everything needed to get you the compensation you deserve.