Fighting the Insurance Companies After a Car Accident

Fighting the Insurance Companies After a Car Accident

Car accident lawyer pages and advertisements often frame the legal process as combat, where the attorney is going to war with the foot-dragging insurance company on your behalf. They are a fierce advocate who will never stop fighting to get you what you legally deserve in compensation.

You may wonder why there are so many references to fighting and why lawyers take pains to present a tough image of themselves. They do this to show that you need someone relentless to battle the insurance companies to get the total amount of money you are legally entitled to.

The reality of the car accident legal process is that you have to fight the insurance companies if you want to get a fair settlement check for your injuries. They are your adversary in a car accident case because of their contractual arrangement with the driver who caused the crash.

The insurance companies will pay you up to the amount of the policy limit, and if they reach a settlement agreement with you, their driver will not owe you any money personally.

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You Have to Fight the Insurance Companies to Get What You Deserve

After a car accident, all you are concerned with is receiving compensation for what is rightfully yours after another driver injured you through their negligence.

However, insurance companies are concerned with making as much money as possible, and the main expense of their profits is payment to injured claimants like you. Thus, they want to keep those costs low.

Insurance companies practically force you to fight them to get all the money you deserve.

If they try to give you money too willingly and seem to make things easier for you, they might want to rush you into a quick settlement, where they buy your legal rights from you for pennies on the dollar.

Once that happens, you cannot regain a legal right to financial compensation after your car accident. A condition of receiving a settlement check is the release agreement, which forever extinguishes your right to additional financial reimbursement.

Things to Remember About Insurance Companies

An insurance officer is seen jotting down notes on a clipboard while an insurance agent inspects a black car from the side after an accident.

While they may tell you they have your best interests in mind, you always need to approach the situation with insurance companies with caution and some knowledge about how they work with claimants.

Here are a few things to remember when dealing with insurance companies after an accident.

First, an adjuster might call you and ask for a recorded statement. They might even imply you need to provide one. 

You do not have to give insurance companies a recorded statement. They may try to pressure you into giving a statement, but you have the right to refuse.

Consult a car accident attorney before providing any recorded statements to make sure you do not say something they could later use against you.

Second, you should never sign a release for all your medical records. Insurance companies may request access to your medical records, saying they need them to evaluate your injuries.

While you will need to provide relevant medical records, signing a release for all your records will give them access to personal and unrelated medical information. Your car accident attorney who will tell you what records are necessary to provide to the insurance company.

Further, you should never - ever - accept a settlement offer without legal advice. Insurance companies want to settle claims quickly and for as little money as possible. Accepting a settlement offer means you waive your right to seek further compensation.

Consulting with an attorney protects you from accepting a low offer and they can then fight for more compensation to cover your losses.

Dealing with insurance companies after an accident can be confusing, especially because adjusters will take advantage of you. They will say they are on your side, but they are not.

Your car accident attorney is on your side, however. You can trust them to advise you on how to handle the process.

The Best Way to Fight the Insurance Companies Is to Hire a Tough Lawyer

You must show the insurance companies that they are not to trifle with you. If they see you in front of them as a self-represented claimant, they will declare open season on you and use every measure to put you in a worse legal position without you even knowing it.

Insurance companies may not like it when you hire a lawyer to fight them tooth and nail. Still, they will respect your position because fear of the legal process and what you can do is a significant motivator.

You may wonder how to take on the insurance companies.

First, you must understand they have no power over your claim and only negotiate with you at arm's length to determine what their driver will owe you. Insurance companies do not get to dictate anything to you, no matter how much they lead you to believe that they can.

The first step to fighting back is hiring an experienced car accident lawyer to handle your case. Once a lawyer works for you, the insurance companies cannot pressure you to speak with them or settle your case.

Instead, you have turned the tables by getting someone on your side who can advocate for your legal rights. Retaining an experienced car accident attorney gives you the determined fighter that you need to go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies.

Your Attorney Prepares You to Battle with the Insurance Companies Effectively

The individual is signing the claim form for their car accident in the presence of a lawyer.

Your attorney will immediately go to work to give you aggressive legal representation in your car accident case. The first phase of the fight begins before you even formally seek financial compensation. Whether you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit, you must put a solid case forward. Your lawyer will begin to do their homework.

From your standpoint, this homework means that your lawyer will prepare you to face off against the insurance companies in whatever medium you choose, whether negotiating a claim or going up against them in court.

Before you file your claim or lawsuit, your attorney will:

  • Gather the physical evidence that proves that the other driver was to blame for the accident. Your lawyer will talk to people who saw the crash and review relevant reports and pictures of the scene to demonstrate that the other driver did something unreasonable under the circumstances
  • Review your situation, working with expert witnesses, as necessary, to determine the amount of your damages. Your attorney will total your economic and non-economic damages to present as part of a lawsuit or insurance claim.

Once your attorney has prepared and you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement, you will seek financial compensation.

You must first know your medical prognosis to understand the full scope and extent of the damages you claim.

Depending on the situation, some attorneys may begin by filing a claim with the insurance company for you. They may file the claim informally or send a demand letter formally requesting your money. Either way, your attorney will notify the insurance companies that you are seeking compensation, and they need to pay you.

How the Insurance Companies Will Respond to Your Claim

The real fight often begins once the insurance company responds to your claim.

They may:

  • Deny your claim if they believe you do not have sufficient evidence showing that their driver was negligent.
  • Blame you partly for the accident, trying to cut the money they will owe you because you bear some blame.
  • Make you a settlement offer that does not represent a legitimate attempt to settle anything. The offer may seem more like a placeholder than anything else.
  • Slow roll their response to your claim, trying to put you in a worse place financially to give themselves leverage over you. Some insurance companies may even take months to respond to your demand letter, even though they open themselves to a bad faith lawsuit. 

Your Attorney Can Pressure the Insurance Companies

Insurance policy document issued by the company.

If the insurance company does not do the right thing, you can decide if you want to keep negotiating or take your case to court.

You may have even filed a lawsuit against the responsible driver in court, depending on the situation. Still, you will be dealing with the insurance companies because they have hired an insurance defense law firm to handle your case.

Lawsuits Present Different Conditions from Insurance Claims

In a court case, there are several significant differences from an insurance claim:

  • You can build your case through the discovery process, where your lawyer can question the other driver directly under oath in a deposition. You will continue to make an even stronger case that puts you in a better position when it comes time to zero in on a settlement.
  • You have court-imposed deadlines to keep the process moving. As much as the insurance companies may want to delay your case to make you more desperate, they do not have that power because the judge sets the schedule. Car accident lawsuits are not uncommon to settle on the eve of trial.
  • The jury will ultimately decide whether you deserve financial compensation and how much you may get. Both sides may appeal if they believe that the jury made a mistake.

There Are Also Potential Risks to Litigation

Although insurance companies fear litigation, you must consult your lawyer before you decide to go this route.

First, you may end up with no financial compensation. Even if the insurance company will settle your case, it does not mean your evidence will persuade the jury of the driver's negligence. Therefore, you may hedge your bets by reaching a settlement agreement.

Second, a lawsuit will add more time to your case, and you do not have any control over the timetable set by the court. If the judge has a busy docket, resolving your case can take considerable time.

However, the insurance companies may dare you to sue them based on their conduct. They have no urgency in resolving your claim because they know you need the money.

Eventually, you may need to file a lawsuit to move the process forward and diminish the clout insurance companies think they have.

You Cannot Afford to Wait to Hire a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Case

You need to start thinking of the fight ahead as soon as possible after your car accident.

You cannot afford to lose any time by delaying the legal process because if you lose too much time or wait too long to get legal help, you may compromise your case.

You can lose valuable evidence, and the insurance companies can insidiously pressure you to unknowingly waive some of your legal rights (such as not speaking with them if you do not want to).

Car Accident Lawyers Cost You Nothing Out of Your Pocket

Many people think that they can never afford a lawyer, but based on how the contingency law system works, that is entirely untrue.

You will not pay anything upfront to hire a car accident lawyer. They will never ask for your money for their time and services, and their pay comes only when you receive a settlement or win your case in court. Until that point, your legal representation is free of charge. All it takes to get legal help is a phone call and a brief conversation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

A free consultation allows you to discuss what happened and get a lawyer’s opinion on whether you have a valid case. This can start the process and allow you to relax and focus on your medical treatment. 

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James Wayne Holliday Author Image

James Wayne Holliday

James Wayne Holliday has been practicing law since 1995. He has been named as a “Best Attorney” Lifetime Charter Member in Florida, an honor awarded to less than one percent of the nation’s lawyers.

Mr. Holliday has earned a reputation as a relentless trial lawyer because of his outstanding work ethic and thorough preparation of his cases for trial.

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