LAWYER

How Car Accident Settlements and Claims Work

Introduction

In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how car accident settlements and claims work. We will take you through the entire process, starting from immediately after the accident, all the way to the point where you receive your settlement money. Understanding the steps involved in car accident settlements and claims can help you navigate through the process more effectively.

Setting up a Claim

When it comes to car accident settlements, most of them are paid by the insurance company of the at-fault driver. However, in order for them to pay you, a claim needs to be set up. Each claim is assigned a unique claim number. There are generally two ways in which a claim is set up:

  • The other driver reports the claim to their insurance company.
  • You or your lawyer report the claim to the other driver’s insurance company.

In cases where there is significant damage to the cars involved in the accident, there is a higher chance that the other driver reported the claim to their insurance company. This is because they likely want their car fixed or they are concerned about potential legal action against them.

When setting up a claim, the car insurance company requires a few key pieces of information:

  1. The date of the accident
  2. The insured’s policy number
  3. A short description of how the accident happened

Additionally, the car insurance company will inquire about the damage to your car and whether or not you sustained any injuries. This information helps them assign the case to the appropriate level insurance adjuster. More experienced adjusters typically handle bigger injury claims, such as those involving broken bones or surgeries. Generally, settlements for those types of injuries tend to be larger.

The Investigation Process

Once the claim is set up, the insurance company will begin the investigation process. However, it is important to note that just because an insurance company assigns a claim number does not automatically mean that you will receive payment. One common mistake that people make is assuming that they will get paid simply because they have a claim number. This is not the case.

For you to receive payment, several things need to happen:

  1. The at-fault driver’s insurance company needs to confirm that there is insurance coverage for your accident.
  2. The policy of the at-fault driver must be active at the time of the accident.
  3. There can’t be any exclusions in the policy that would result in a denial of coverage.

A common reason for coverage denial is when the other car or driver is not listed on the insurance policy. It is crucial for the insurance coverage to be confirmed before any payment can be made.

If you sustained injuries in the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will typically assign two different adjusters to handle your claim:

  • The property damage liability adjuster: This adjuster handles payment for the damage to your car or other property, such as a broken cell phone or watch.
  • The bodily injury liability adjuster: This adjuster handles payment for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If the insurance company confirms coverage, the adjuster still needs to determine two key factors:

  1. Fault (also known as liability)
  2. Your damages or injuries

To determine fault, the insurance adjuster will review the traffic crash report and interview various individuals involved in the accident, including the driver of the insured’s car, you, and any witnesses. They may request your recorded statement, but it is important to note that you are usually not obligated to provide one since you don’t have a contract with them.

One tactic that insurance adjusters sometimes use is telling you that they cannot pay for your car damage unless they get your recorded statement. However, this is not true. There have been cases where settlements were reached without the at-fault driver’s adjuster taking the client’s statement. Your cooperation is important but providing a recorded statement is not a requirement.

After fault has been determined, the insurance adjuster will assign a certain percentage of fault to the drivers or individuals involved in the accident. This percentage can range from zero to one hundred percent.

The adjuster will also request your medical bills and records, usually by asking you to sign a medical authorization form. It is important to note that signing this form is generally not mandatory. The insurance company is legally required to set aside a certain amount of money to pay your personal injury claim. This amount can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of the accident and the extent of your injuries.

As the insurance adjuster gathers more information, they will adjust the settlement reserve accordingly. It is in your best interest to expedite this process by providing any medical records and bills that demonstrate the severity of your injuries. Delaying the submission of these documents can prolong the settlement process.

Determining the Settlement Value

The insurance adjuster will have a settlement range within which they can negotiate a settlement for your case. Unfortunately, they won’t disclose this range to you. It will be up to you or your lawyer to calculate the value of your personal injury case.

To calculate the value of your personal injury case, you need to consider the following:

  • Your out-of-pocket medical bills
  • Your lost wages
  • Your pain and suffering

In order to determine the worth of your pain and suffering, you can refer to additional resources. (Note: In the transcript, there is a reference to a video or link, but for this blog, we will omit it as per the requirements.)

Conclusion

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident in Florida and believe that someone else may be at fault, it is important to seek legal representation to protect your rights. (Note: In the transcript, there is a reference to a link, but for this blog, we will omit it as per the requirements.) Understanding the process of car accident settlements and claims can help you navigate through the complex legal procedures and increase your chances of receiving a fair settlement.

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