Fighting the Insurance Company After a Car Accident

May 20, 2024 | Jarrett Blakeley
Fighting the Insurance Company After a Car Accident

A car accident can be a devastating event in and of itself. However, you may not realize just yet that the crash itself may not be the most challenging part of the entire experience. Trying to obtain fair compensation and fighting the insurance company in the following months might be more challenging than you’d ever imagine.

As much as you want to believe that your insurer is on your side, the harsh truth is that it isn’t. You should always work with a car accident lawyer to fight the insurance company more effectively and ensure you receive fair and full compensation.

How Do Insurance Companies Work?

For many car accident victims, fighting insurance companies becomes a routine (and unpleasant) part of their recovery journey. However, you need to understand how insurers operate to know what to expect and how to navigate their tactics.

How Insurance Companies Work

How Do Insurance Companies Work?

Insurance companies are businesses first. Like any business, their primary goal is profitability, which they achieve through cutting costs. This foundational understanding is crucial as it frames every interaction you have with them following an accident. Insurance companies collect premiums from their policyholders and, in return, agree to cover certain expenses should an incident occur. However, the less money they pay out in claims, the more profit they can potentially make.

This model does not inherently make insurance companies your adversary, but it does mean their interests are not always aligned with yours. When an accident occurs, these companies activate a protocol designed to minimize their financial exposure. This process is both complex and highly regulated, requiring a careful balance between upholding their policy commitments and protecting their bottom line.

Why the Insurance Company Is Not On Your Side

Understanding insurance companies' dual objective–to support their policyholders while also maintaining profitability – sheds light on why they may not always act in your best interest. This reality often surprises many accident victims who, understandably, view their insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance as a safety net meant to protect them financially.

However, you must remember that insurance adjusters, regardless of how empathetic or helpful they may seem, are trained professionals acting in their employer’s interest, not yours. Their role is to assess the damage, determine the claim’s value, and find ways to settle the claim as economically as possible for the company. This objective can sometimes result in settlement offers that are less than what the victim genuinely needs or deserves. However, many people lack a thorough understanding of their rights or the actual value of their claims, which is why they may end up accepting such offers.

The Role of Insurance Adjusters

Insurance adjusters are the ones who will review your claim, assess the damage to your vehicle, analyze any injuries sustained, and ultimately decide how much the insurance company should pay. While adjusters must abide by the terms of the insurance policy and the laws governing insurance claims, they are also looking for any reasons to justify reducing the payout amount. You need to approach your interactions with the adjuster with caution, as some of your comments or omitted details can be used to undervalue your claim. Being prepared, informed, and represented by a lawyer can help protect your rights during this process.

Fighting the Insurance Company’s Attempts to Dispute Liability

When the insurance company is trying to dispute liability, it may either deny its policyholder’s fault in the accident entirely or argue the extent to which its policyholder is at fault. This can complicate your ability to recover compensation for damages and injuries sustained in the accident, especially if you live in an at-fault insurance state. In no-fault states, however, liability disputes carry less weight because each party files a claim with their own insurance provider to claim compensation regardless of fault.

Still, it does not necessarily mean that you should swallow your pride and agree with the insurer’s determination of fault if it’s erroneous. There can still be costly implications if the insurer wrongfully alleges blame. Always take steps to fight the company’s attempts to dispute liability when necessary.

Gather and Preserve Evidence

One of the most crucial steps you can take if an insurance company is disputing liability after a car accident is to gather as much evidence as possible. The more proof you can provide that supports your version of events, the stronger your claim will be. Some of the pieces of evidence that may benefit you include:

  • Photographs or videos of the accident scene
  • Witness statements
  • Police reports
  • Medical records
  • Accident reconstruction testimony

Your lawyer will typically advise you on what types of evidence you need to collect to challenge the insurer’s assessment of fault and strengthen your position.

Don’t Rush Into Settlements

Insurance companies may offer a quick settlement when disputing liability. While it might be tempting to accept an offer and move on, this can often result in receiving much less than you are entitled to. Before accepting any settlement, it is advisable to fully understand the extent of your damages and injuries, including future medical expenses and lost income.

Did you know that the average cost of an evident injury resulting from a car accident is tens of thousands of dollars? If your injury claim is worth $40,000 but you accept the insurer’s quick settlement offer for $25,000, you will miss out on the compensation you are entitled to.

Navigating a disputed liability claim can be complex and challenging, particularly if you are also recovering from injuries. Hiring a car accident attorney can provide several advantages:

  • They can handle communication with the insurance companies, relieving you of the stress and ensuring you do not inadvertently say something that can harm your case.
  • Attorneys have experience in collecting and presenting evidence to support your claim effectively.
  • Legal representation can often result in a higher settlement offer, as insurance companies tend to take claims more seriously when an attorney is involved.

The best thing about hiring a car accident lawyer is that most work on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing for their services unless they win your case.

Engage in Good Faith Negotiation

Even with disputed liability, it is possible to negotiate a fair settlement. If you decide to negotiate the claim yourself or with the help of an attorney, make sure to:

  • Clearly present the evidence that supports your case
  • Stay calm and professional during all communications
  • Be realistic about the value of your claim, but don't accept an unfair settlement

If negotiations with the insurance company lead nowhere, your car accident attorney may advise taking the case to court. A lawsuit can be a lengthy and expensive process, but sometimes, it is the only way to secure fair compensation. However, keep in mind that there is a limited amount of time to initiate a lawsuit, which is called a “statute of limitations” and is different in each state. In Florida, for example, injured victims have two years from the date of the accident to sue.

Fighting the Insurance Company’s Attempts to Downplay Your Injuries

Insurance companies may attempt to minimize the extent of your injuries to reduce the overall payout. They might imply that your injuries are not as severe as claimed or that you are exaggerating symptoms. Unfortunately, this situation is more common than you might think. Sadly, many victims of car accidents do not know how to convince the insurer that their injuries are as severe as they claim.

Gather Comprehensive Medical Documentation

Your medical records are your best defense against an insurance company’s attempts to downplay your injuries. Ensure that every visit to a healthcare provider, treatment received, and diagnosis is thoroughly documented. This includes:

  • Initial emergency services
  • Visits to specialists
  • Physical therapy sessions
  • Prescriptions

Keep a Detailed Personal Account

In addition to official medical documentation, keep a personal injury diary. Record your daily pain levels, any difficulties you encounter while performing regular activities, and how your injuries impact your day-to-day life. This personal account can provide valuable evidence about the extent of your suffering and recovery process.

Consult a Car Accident Lawyer

One of the most effective steps you can take is to hire a lawyer who will:

  • Advise you on the worth of your claim
  • Negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf
  • Represent you in court if necessary

Your car accident attorney also understands the common tactics insurance companies use and how to counter them, protecting your interests throughout the process.

Use Caution When Communicating with Insurance Companies

Anything you say to an insurance adjuster can be used to undermine your claim. Be cautious about providing detailed information about your condition, especially early in the process. Refer requests for detailed statements or information to your attorney, and never agree to a recorded statement without legal advice.

Be Patient and Persistent

Insurance claims, especially those involving serious injuries, can take time to resolve. Persistence, coupled with the support of an experienced lawyer, can make a substantial difference in achieving a fair settlement.

Fighting the Insurance Company’s Attempts to Delay the Claims Process

Fighting the Insurance Company After an Auto Accident

After being involved in a car accident, the last thing anyone wants is to engage in a prolonged and nerve-wracking battle with insurance companies. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for these companies to employ delay tactics during the claims process. This can not only add to the stress of the situation but also place financial and emotional burdens on the victims. In essence, their objectives are profit-driven – they aim to minimize payouts to preserve their financial interests. Delay tactics can wear down claimants, pushing them to accept lower settlements out of desperation or abandon their claims altogether.

Here are some common strategies used to delay the claims process:

  • Requesting unnecessary information. Insurers may ask for extensive documentation that is not directly relevant to the claim, hoping the claimant finds the process too overwhelming and accepts their lowball settlement offer.
  • Changing claims adjusters. Some companies frequently change the adjuster handling a claim, triggering a “restart” effect on negotiations and information processing.
  • Disputing medical treatments. Insurers might question the necessity of medical treatments to challenge the validity of claims or reduce the payout amount.
  • Ignoring communications. Simply not responding to emails, calls, or letters can also slow down the process, hoping the claimant will get tired of pursuing their claim.

Be Proactive and Organized

From the outset, be diligent in gathering and organizing all necessary documentation related to your claim. This includes the police report, medical records, evidence of lost income, and any correspondence with the insurance company. Keeping a detailed record will help you counter any attempts by the insurer to claim that they require more information.

Maintain Persistent Communication

Persistently follow up with the insurance company. Regular phone calls and emails can keep the pressure on the insurer to move your claim forward. Consider setting specific deadlines for responses when you communicate, and make it clear that you expect these timelines to be respected.

Know Your Policy Inside and Out

Understanding the specifics of your insurance policy can provide a solid foundation to counter delay tactics. If you are informed about what the policy covers, including deadlines for filing claims and disputes, you can assertively remind the insurer of their obligations.

Work with a Car Accident Lawyer

Hiring a car accident attorney will change the dynamics of your interactions with the insurance company from being someone who does not know how to recognize the insurer’s manipulative tactics to becoming a claimant the insurer respects and treats with dignity. Your lawyer will offer strategic advice, negotiate on your behalf, and, if necessary, initiate legal action to enforce your claim. An insurer is more likely to take your claim seriously and act promptly if they know you have legal representation.

Consultations with personal injury attorneys are free, and you pay nothing for a lawyer to begin building your claim and pursuing compensation. This is not a battle you should fight alone.

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

Author's Bio