After a car accident, insurance companies will try to pay you as little as possible for your injuries and damage to your vehicle. Many people mistakenly believe that they can negotiate a fair settlement with their insurance company, or that of the other driver, following a serious crash.
If you are not represented by a lawyer, you risk being offered an unfair settlement by the insurance companies involved in the claims resulting from your car accident. Here are some signs that you are being offered an unfair settlement, and should seek advice from a car accident lawyer.
The settlement doesn’t cover your medical expenses.
If a proposed settlement does not cover the medical expenses you incurred after a car accident, you are not being offered a fair settlement. You should never accept an insurance settlement that doesn’t cover the cost of your emergency medical care, visits to doctors, prescription medications, physical therapy sessions, and other medical care.
It is important to keep detailed records of your medical care after an accident. Maintain a dedicated file with copies of all your medical records and associated bills organized chronologically. You will have a much better chance at getting a fair settlement if you have documentation of your expenses.
If your insurance company, or that of the other driver, is unwilling to cover your medical expenses, talk to a lawyer right away. An experienced car accident attorney can help you file a lawsuit against the other driver or insurance companies that are acting in bad faith.
You are being assigned too much fault for the accident.
During the insurance claim settlement process, insurance companies typically assign a percentage of fault to each of the drivers involved in a car accident. If an insurance company assigns you too high a percentage of fault, your settlement offer may be reduced significantly.
A police report can be critical in establishing fault in a car accident. If the police report indicates that you were not at fault in your accident, but the insurance companies are arguing otherwise, contact a car accident lawyer right away.
The settlement doesn’t cover repairs to your vehicle.
If an insurance company has offered you a settlement that doesn’t cover the cost of repairing your vehicle after an accident, you should consult with a car accident lawyer to discuss your rights. If both drivers involved in your accident were insured, you should be able to recoup the costs of repairing your vehicle.
There are other clues that your insurance company, or that of the other driver, may be acting unfairly. These include being denied a rental car or compensation for a rental car, being given conflicting reports about the amount of damage to your car, and having your claims for repair costs denied without reason.
The insurance company is making threats or acting in bad faith.
All insurance companies have a duty to act in good faith when dealing with policyholders and people who were involved in accidents with their policyholders. If your insurance company, or that of the other driver, has acted in bad faith during the settlement process, you are unlikely to receive a fair settlement.
An insurance company may be acting in bad faith if it:
- Threatens you during the settlement negotiation process,
- Denies your claims without giving a reason,
- Refuses your requests for documentation in support of its decisions,
- Makes unreasonably burdensome requests for documentation,
- Gives you a “lowball” settlement offer, or
- Fails to conduct a prompt and reasonable investigation into your claims.
If an insurance company has acted in bad faith after your car accident, you may be able to sue the insurance company. Contact a lawyer to discuss your rights.
For the best chance at a fair settlement, you should hire a law firm that has experience negotiating with insurance companies. At Sutliff & Stout, we will aggressively pursue your claims and will file a lawsuit against your insurance company if necessary.