Car accidents are the most common cause of personal injury cases, and statistically, most drivers will have this difficult experience sooner or later. Even a relatively minor collision can disrupt your life, resulting in an overwhelming physical, emotional, and financial toll.
You may contend with injuries that take months to heal, medical bills, and lost income while navigating the complicated legal procedures for getting compensation. Unfortunately, insurance companies are not likely to be on your side and often make the process as difficult as possible.
An experienced car accident lawyer handling your claim can make all the difference, providing the critical support you need to protect your legal rights and recover the maximum compensation available for your unique case.
A skilled attorney can explain every step of the legal process, substantiate your damages, and handle all negotiations with the insurer. Most importantly, they can provide peace of mind that someone is looking out for your best interests, allowing you to focus on recovering from the accident.
How Insurance Companies Place Roadblocks in Your Accident Claim?
Car accident victims have specific protections under the law, including the right to seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, vehicle repairs, and other major losses that resulted from the crash.
The legal process will vary depending on whether you live in a state with at-fault insurance, which requires all drivers to have liability coverage that kicks in after an accident. After a collision caused by another driver, your claim would involve filing for compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer.
In no-fault states, like New York and New Jersey, drivers will typically have their initial damages covered by tapping into a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy purchased from their own insurance company, although there are exceptions for accidents that cause serious injuries.
Whether you file under your PIP policy or through the at-fault party’s liability insurer, car accident victims are likely to face a mountain of paperwork and a lot of pushback on the value of their claim.
Insurance companies will assign an adjuster to investigate the accident, review all your evidence of your damages and then determine the amount you would be entitled to recover. However, these representatives are notorious for denying and undervaluing claims and placing administrative hurdles in the process to discourage claimants. Without the help of a skilled insurance lawyer, most car accident victims won’t know how to navigate these aggressive tactics, such as:
Delaying the Claims Process
Insurance companies often avoid paying for fair compensation by strategically dragging out the claims process, often by repeatedly requesting more paperwork and excessive information.
Medical bills and other expenses make car accident victims vulnerable to insurers, which take advantage of this difficult reality. Without the help of an experienced lawyer, many claimants will find this process so confusing and stressful that they give up and accept a low settlement offer.
Downplaying the Victim’s Injuries
One of the main ways insurers try to undervalue car accident claims is by arguing that the victim’s injuries were not as serious as they appeared, that they received unnecessary medical treatments that shouldn’t be covered, or that the injuries resulted from a pre-existing condition.
Adjusters are even known to scour the victim’s social media accounts to find any posts that can be used to cast doubt on the victim’s story. Without solid evidence and extensive documentation, it’s difficult for car accident victims to recover fair compensation for all their medical costs and other losses from the accident.
Lowball Settlement Offers, High-Pressure Tactics
Insurance adjusters often contact victims to offer a significantly lower amount than they deserve and then pressure them to accept immediately by saying, “This is the final offer” or “This offer is only available for a limited time.”
This strategy creates urgency and convinces claimants to act against their best interests. Insurers don’t want car accident victims to realize that they have rights under the law and a range of options for fighting back to the compay. An experienced car insurance lawyer can negotiate with adjusters on your behalf and push back with a more reasonable settlement offer.
Disputing Liability for the Accident
In car accident claims that depend on who was at fault for causing the accident, the other driver’s insurance is likely to dispute or minimize their policyholder’s responsibility for the circumstances of the crash. They often do this by either blaming the victim, arguing that you were partially or completely at fault for what happened, or suggesting that other factors contributed to the collision.
Without enough evidence of the at-fault driver’s negligent actions behind the wheel, it’s possible for insurance companies to substantially reduce their obligation to compensate the victim for their damages.
Using Recorded Statements Against Claimants
One of the most common tactics insurance adjusters use to devalue claims is by calling car accident victims soon after the incident and asking them to provide a recorded statement with their version of the story. These interviews are presented as a straightforward, neutral step in the claims process, but this is far from the case.
Recorded statements are actually an opportunity for adjusters to find something to use against you later on, such as disputing the seriousness of your injuries or the circumstances that caused the crash. Insurance adjusters are trained to ask leading questions that most people wouldn’t know how to handle, especially when they don’t fully understand the extent of their injuries or all the details surrounding the accident.
Insurers routinely use recorded statements to deny claims or reduce settlement amounts, so avoid these pitfalls and let a skilled attorney handle all communications with the insurer.
How Car Insurance Lawyers Help Clients Substantiate Their Damages?
One of the key benefits of hiring a car insurance lawyer is having the support to recover the maximum compensation for your losses based on the unique circumstances of your case. Car accident victims may be entitled to reimbursement for their medical bills, lost income from being unable to work during their recovery, vehicle repairs, and other damages. However, proving all these accident-related expenses up to the standard required for the insurance claims process is very challenging for most people. Claimants may not know the out-of-pocket costs the insurance could have covered, so they end up leaving money on the table.
Car insurance lawyers specialize in every aspect of helping claimants navigate the legal process after an accident, including the most effective evidence for substantiating all the different ways car accident victims and their families are impacted by a difficult crash. Some of the ways an experienced lawyer can help you prepare a case for damages include:
Gathering Documentation for Economic Damages
Documenting your financial losses is one of the most complicated aspects of the claims process due to the extensive paperwork involved, which often includes having to follow up multiple times to collect all the information. An experienced car insurance lawyer and their team can do the heavy administrative lifting by requesting and organizing all medical bills, other documentation of the claimant’s lost income, invoices for vehicle repairs, and other important records in a way that supports your claim.
Projecting Future Damages
Serious injuries have an extensive recovery period or may result in permanent disability, leading to significant long-term damages. One of the most important roles of a car insurance lawyer is consulting with experts, including medical specialists and financial planners, to calculate the future costs of rehabilitative treatments, lost income, and other ongoing damages from the accident.
Calculate and demonstrate non-economic damages
Many car accident victims may be entitled to pursue compensation for intangible losses from the accident, like pain and suffering, which are very difficult to quantify or demonstrate. Car insurance lawyers work closely with their clients to understand the emotional and physical impact of the crash and substantiate these damages with evidence, such as by gathering testimony with family and friends about how the victim’s life was affected by getting hurt.
Establishing Who Was at Fault After a Car Accident
In the aftermath of an accident, there are often very conflicting stories about what happened and who should be at fault. Investigating the underlying causes of the crash is a critical element of any car accident claim that depends on establishing fault. For drivers living in states that follow a no-fault system, proving responsibility is still very important for accidents that cause severe injuries.
The liability for a car accident usually depends on traffic violations that created the conditions for a collision, like speeding, drunk driving, not yielding the right of way, or another form of driver negligence. Car insurance lawyers sift through a wide range of resources and evidence to build a comprehensive picture of how the accident unfolded and who should be held accountable.
To investigate the causes of an accident, your car accident lawyer can:
- Review the police report for initial observations about the crash made by the responding officers, photographs of physical evidence left at the scene, and traffic citations that were issued.
- Gather testimony from eyewitnesses about what they saw and heard, especially major violations like running a red light, being distracted by a smartphone, and road rage behaviors.
- Evaluate physical evidence like skid marks, debris from the collision, and the location of any damage on the vehicles can all provide important clues to establish fault.
- Review video footage, which may be available from traffic cameras or even the surveillance systems of nearby businesses.
- Hire forensic specialists like car accident reconstructionists, who use specialized tools to help piece together what happened in a car accident where the evidence is unclear or conflicting.
Craft a Persuasive Demand Letter
The negotiation process begins with the claimant’s lawyer submitting a demand letter that outlines their injuries, the extent of their damages from the accident, and the amount of compensation being sought. Your lawyer prepares this document by gathering as much supporting documentation as possible, determining the fair value of their damages, and presenting all the available evidence persuasively.
Engage in Back-and-Forth Negotiations
Insurers will typically respond to demand letters with an extremely low settlement offer, which becomes the starting point for several rounds of negotiations. This process takes time and persistence, as well as compelling evidence to strengthen the car accident victim’s claim and substantiate their damages. A solid, well-prepared case allows lawyers the leverage they need to make successful counteroffers and reach a more favorable settlement.
How Car Insurance Lawyers Can Help You After an Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, the aftermath can be truly overwhelming. Most people aren’t familiar with the legal process, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage when filing for compensation.
A skilled car insurance lawyer can advocate for your best interests and negotiate a settlement that covers your medical bills, property damage, lost income, and other damages. In those rare situations when it becomes necessary to advance the claim to a formal trial in civil court, a lawyer can also argue your case before a judge or jury.
Most car insurance lawyers work on a contingency basis, with no legal fees until they recover compensation on your behalf, which makes quality legal representation an accessible resource.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in New York to discuss your case and find out how they can help you pursue the compensation you deserve and ensure you are treated fairly by the insurers.