You do not necessarily have to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation after a car accident. in fact, navigating the claims process with an insurance company is often the first thing you’ll do.
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- parties involved, and
- injuries sustained.
These are all important questions. Los Angeles car accident attorney Sherwin Arzani explains the process of filing a claim with an insurance company and explains how you can maximize your recovery.
negotiate a settlement with an insurance company
Here’s what you can expect when you decide to file a personal injury claim for damages with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Step 1: Gather the information needed for your claim
The first thing you’ll need to do is gather information about your accident. Most importantly, you will need the at-fault driver’s insurance information. you can get the details you need from the other driver or from a copy of their accident report.
You will also need to collect routine information about your accident, including:
Once you have all of this information in hand, you can prepare to file your personal injury claim.
Step 2: File Your Personal Injury Claim
It is important to contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company soon after your accident. many companies limit the amount of time you have to contact them after an accident. some companies even restrict the claims period to 24 hours after an accident.
The purpose of the claim is to let you know that one of the insured drivers injured you and intends to claim damages. Most companies allow you to file a personal injury claim online. others will accept your claim by phone or mail. When you file your claim, be sure to include details about the property damage and any personal injuries you sustained.
once your claim is filed, you will have to wait for a response from the insurance company. In most cases, you will deal with an insurance claims adjuster. The adjuster will send you a reservation of rights (ROR) letter. this letter simply acknowledges that your claim has been received and that the adjuster will investigate the accident. the error will also explain that the insurance company does not accept responsibility or fault at this time.
Step 3: Describe your damages and demand compensation
Once you have received the reservation of rights letter from the adjuster, you will have the opportunity to submit a demand letter. when should you send this letter? depends. it may be helpful to wait until you have fully recovered or made significant strides in your recovery. This is because it will be easier to accurately identify the costs and losses related to the accident. projecting your costs and losses can make it hard to get back the money you deserve.
What should you include in your demand letter? this is your opportunity to explain what happened, present evidence to support your argument, and demand significant compensation. it is important to be as detailed and complete as possible about the extent of your injuries and the costs you have incurred.
provide detailed details on costs related to medical care, rehabilitation, nursing care, disability, lost wages, and property damage. by adding these costs and expenses you will have calculated your “economic” or “special” damages.
once you have calculated your economic damages, you can assess your “general” or “non-economic” damages. these are awarded to compensate for things like pain and suffering or emotional trauma. these damages can be difficult to assess. Assess your pain, and then multiply your economic damages by a number between 2 and 5. The worse your injury, the higher your multiplier should be.
Step 4: Review the insurance company’s first settlement offer
Once the insurance company receives your demand letter, they will be asked to respond. however, there is no requirement that they contact you immediately. They will likely blame any delay on the fact that the adjuster is still in the process of investigating your accident and claiming. however, the truth is that they are probably just trying to test your patience and make you eager to accept any offer they make you.
It’s important to understand that insurance companies don’t care about what’s best for you. They are for-profit companies and will do everything possible to minimize any payment you receive. As a result, they are likely to revise your demand letter and submit an offer that is well below what you are asking for.
How do you come up with your first settlement offer? They will evaluate your claim and try to anticipate future litigation. What would a jury do if presented with this case? If the insurance company thinks you won’t win in court, they will be inclined to make you a very low offer.
will support their offer by saying:
- you are asking too much for the type of injury you have suffered
- you have not provided sufficient proof of your costs
- has overestimated the value of your disability or lost wages, or
- has requested more than the maximum amount allowed according to the insured’s policy.
The insurance company’s first settlement offer will likely insult you. the chances of it covering all of the costs related to your accident are slim to none. however, he may feel pressured to accept that low offer. why? the insurance adjuster will use manipulative tactics that will play on your emotions.
They may say that this is a one-time offer that expires in 24 hours. they may imply that you are partially at fault for the accident and say that you are lucky to get an offer, not at all.
It is important to understand that accepting the first offer from the insurance company can be dangerous. When you accept, you will be asked to sign a waiver. this waiver will prevent you from seeking additional compensation related to this accident. As a result, you will be left with the limited amount of money offered by the insurance company.
step 5: make a counter offer
You have the right to reject the insurance company’s first settlement offer by proposing a counter offer of your own. you can double down and demand the amount(s) you initially requested or meet them somewhere in between. showing that you are open to negotiations will usually work in your best favor.
Your counter offer should emphasize the extent of your injuries and the amount of suffering you have experienced due to the at-fault driver. make it very clear that you are serious about recovering a fair and meaningful settlement offer. Your insured driver has hurt you and is demanding the compensation you deserve.
Step 6: Hire a personal injury attorney and consider taking legal action
The insurance company will respond to your counter offer. It doesn’t happen very often, but they may agree to take you up on your offer. this will likely be the case if they suspect that you would be successful if the cases were litigated. Most of the time, however, the insurance company will reject your offer or make a counter offer of their own.
The insurance company may be willing to negotiate a bit, but at some point, they will make a final offer. when this happens, it is important to identify whether or not you have gained ground. Has the insurance company made you a better offer? Have you been agreed on an amount that will cover all your costs and expenses? if so, accepting the final offer after some back and forth may not be a terrible thing. however, never accept a low offer just to get something instead of nothing. You always have the option of hiring an attorney and filing a personal injury claim.
When you are not satisfied with an insurance company’s offer, you have the right to take legal action. Hiring a personal injury attorney and threatening to file a lawsuit can sometimes be enough to scare an insurance company into extending a reasonable settlement. Even if they don’t, you’ll still have the opportunity to have a qualified legal advocate fight for compensation on your behalf. this will significantly increase the chances of maximizing your financial recovery.
need more help?
Have you been injured in an accident in Los Angeles? if another driver is at fault, he has the right to seek compensation from his insurance company. Navigating an insurance claim can be difficult, but you can be successful if you are strong, patient, and motivated. You can also help your claim by consulting an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney. If you have any questions about recovering compensation after an accident, don’t hesitate to contact the Citywide Law Group for assistance. Call us today to schedule your free case evaluation.