The Insurance Claims Process
Many people experience the insurance claims process as follows: They get in an accident, take their car to an authorized mechanic/auto body business for an estimate, and the insurance company cuts a check for the repairs (minus the deductible). That does not always happen, particularly when there are higher repair costs and injuries to the driver and/or passengers. There is an old saying that "insurance companies make money by denying claims". When the insurance company offers a "lowball" settlement and refuses to negotiate, you need to speak to an attorney to protect your rights. Another common problem is that insurance companies will tell you that you have to have the repairs done at a certain location. These repair facilities know how much the insurance company is willing to pay and will cut corners to meet the estimate. In return, they are guaranteed future referrals from the insurance company.
If you or a loved one has been injured, the insurance company will attempt to settle the case quickly before they have to pay for full medical treatment. Once there has been a settlement, they no longer are responsible for any future payments or damages. Additionally, insurance adjusters are trained not to offer full payment on medical bills or put a "cap" on certain types of treatment. These people handle thousands of claims each year and know the possible defenses and laws better than you. So, with any claim involving a serious injury requires assistance from a car accident attorney who can protect your rights and obtain a fair compensation for your injury. A 2011 Study by the Insurance Research Council found that auto injury claim costs are rising as well as more claims are being filed overall. (Click on the following link to find the News Release - Trend in Auto Injury Claims, 2011 Edition.) This means that insurance companies are going to try to cut their costs in order to continue to make a profit.
One of the biggest problems in a personal injury claim is not hiring a personal injury attorney early enough. It is often in your best interest to hire an attorney to help you through your claims process - especially when injuries are serious or permanent. The more serious the injury, the more money is involved. Sometimes, insurance companies are more interested in maximizing their profits than paying out on legitimate claims. Some of the tactics insurance carriers use are to delay, deny and defend. Insurance companies delay payment of legitimate claims. Sometimes do not even respond to people trying to contact them with a claim. They also deny payment entirely and defend their actions by forcing people to sue them for payment because they have only offered low settlements, using adjusters who minimize the claim.) When this happens, it is called insurance bad faith. (For further information on bad faith, see our page on Insurance Bad Faith.) Be careful of an insurance claim that drags on too long, as there is a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit/personal injury claim against them. Speaking to a car accident attorney will help you navigate through your claim .If a claim is against a government entity (creating an accident because of the road, lighting or pole placement, you should consider hiring an attorney not only to help file your claim, but to file the personal injury lawsuit should the claim be denied.
As consumer justice attorneys, Phillips Law is dedicated to assisting and fighting for individuals who have been injured, disabled or had a family member killed in all types of vehicle or pedestrian crashes in Sacramento and the Gold Country area. We offer legal help and assistance in auto, truck, bus, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian cases. We are a local firm emphasizing personal contact with our clients.
We invite you to call us at (530) 265-0186 to schedule a confidential, no-charge consultation to answer any questions you may have, or, if you prefer, you can e-mail us from the Contact Us page.