​Do I Call My Insurance Company if It’s Not My Fault?

No one wants to deal with insurance companies, especially after experiencing a traumatizing car accident and injuries. Following an accident, the damages can be pretty severe, and the aftermath can leave much physical, mental, emotional, and financial recovery to navigate.

Each car accident has unique circumstances that make it challenging and stressful. Dealing with the insurance company is one of the necessary difficulties to ensure a victim receives the total financial compensation they deserve.

Following an accident, one of the main things people ask themselves is if they need to contact their insurer, specifically if they are not liable for what happened. The short answer to this question is yes.

It is necessary for the insurance agency to know a crash occurred. Reporting any accident is crucial, as various policy coverages you have might need to cover losses after a car accident. However, even your own insurance company can be an adversary. You should hire a car accident lawyer to handle all of these communications for you.

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No-Fault States

A handful of states, including Florida, have no-fault car insurance laws. These laws require you to seek compensation from your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage first following a crash. Your PIP policy should cover medical expenses and a percentage of lost income up to your policy limits, no matter who was at fault. If your injuries are serious, you can seek additional compensation from the at-fault party’s insurer, but you must begin with your own policy.

To get PIP coverage, you must get medical treatment and report your injuries to your insurer relatively quickly. Have your car accident lawyer call your insurance company for you to begin your PIP claim.

Underinsured and Uninsured Coverage

Underinsured and uninsured coverage kicks in if the at-fault party did not have insurance, had insufficient coverage for your losses, or fled the scene of the accident. You must notify your insurer of the crash in case you need to file an UM/UIM claim.

Collision Insurance Coverage

A driver can apply for and receive collision insurance coverage when necessary. Collision coverage protects the driver and helps them repair or replace their car if the liable driver’s insurance does not quickly accept responsibility for the accident before repairs must happen. Then, the victim’s insurer pursues compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company.

Using collision coverage requires the victim to promptly notify their insurer of the accident; otherwise, they may have to cover repair costs out of pocket. The victim must wait until they negotiate a settlement with the at-fault driver’s liability carrier to get reimbursement for these costs. These negotiations can potentially take months or longer to conclude.

If the accident victim uses their collision coverage, the victim will have to pay the collision deductible toward repairs. If their insurer can settle with the liable driver’s insurer, the insurance company may reimburse this money.

Towing Insurance Coverage

After collision coverage, towing insurance is a viable coverage option to utilize. This coverage will pay the upfront cost of towing a non-working vehicle. Following this, the insurance company will look to seek reimbursement from the liable driver’s insurance agency.

Without towing coverage, the victim may have to pay the towing expense as they await for the liable party’s insurer to accept liability. Under towing and collision coverage, neither claim will affect the insurance premium if the liable driver’s insurance provider reimburses the money.

Medical Payments Insurance Coverage or Med-Pay

Medical payments (Med Pay) coverage is a beneficial option to cover medical bills while you wait for a settlement. This coverage will pay all medical expenses from the accident, despite who is at fault. Additionally, under the laws in some states, insurance companies cannot raise a driver’s rates if there is a claim for medical expense insurance coverage.

Even if you are using the insurance coverage you purchased and paid for, the company can still be challenging to work with. Always have your lawyer handle all communications, including the initial notification of the accident.

What to Do Following an Accident That You Did Not Cause

Every accident victim should take the following steps to protect themselves and their legal rights after an accident.

Gather Information to Provide to the Insurance Company

The driver who caused the accident is responsible for reporting it to their insurance company. It is unwise for the victim to contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Refraining from contacting opposing insurance companies is vital because at-fault drivers’ insurance companies are not on your side. Contact an attorney before you speak to anyone.

Collect these critical bits of information and share it with your accident attorney:

  • The other driver’s name, address, insurance company, and policy information.
  • Witness statements and contact information.
  • Pictures of injuries, vehicle damage, other personal property, and other physical evidence.
  • Please keep a copy of the police report and share it with your attorney during the initial consultation.
  • Get medical attention after an accident and comply with your doctor’s orders. This information can help prove the extent of your injuries and help you articulate them to a jury.

Every detail you can gather helps create a picture for your attorney and, ultimately, a jury. The more information you can provide, the stronger your case.

What to Say and Not to Say

Car Accident AttorneyYou should notify your insurance company following an accident quickly, but exercise caution when speaking to them or have your lawyer do it. The necessary information to give is the general background information, such as names and addresses of the involved parties, the date, time, and location of the accident.

Also, avoid discussing liability or injuries until you consult an experienced car accident attorney about the case. Avoid giving a recorded statement or accepting any payment until getting legal advice.

How an Attorney Handles an Insurer

Insurance companies are for-profit entities whose most significant interest is to retain as much money as possible. Because insurance companies are for-profit businesses, they must spend as little money as possible, especially by avoiding accident claim payouts.

Prematurely speaking to an insurance company can be a bad idea, as they may utilize various tactics to get the victim to admit fault. Even more so, they can attempt to discredit the victim by catching them in questionable situations via social media posts, pictures, or contact with coworkers, friends, or family.

These tactics are standard, but an experienced car accident attorney can identify and combat them. Unlike the insurance company, the attorney’s main objective is for their client to gain all compensation entitled to the victim.

Speaking up for the Victim

The car accident victim is not legally required to speak to the liable driver’s insurance company. Rather than the victim speaking, their experienced car accident attorney can speak to the liable party’s insurance adjuster. The attorney’s job is to communicate well with the liable party’s insurer, which is vital during negotiations.

Negotiating a Fair Settlement

The at-fault driver’s insurance company will analyze the details of the victim’s claim in two ways:

  • Deny the claim or accept it and pay the requested compensation amount
  • Send a counteroffer to the settlement amount

An insurance agency will rarely accept a claim immediately, especially if the damages are severe and plentiful. They will usually send a small settlement offer or deny the claim entirely. In either case, contacting a car accident attorney is necessary to navigate these negotiation tactics.

Communicating With the Victim’s Insurance Company

Most cases require the victim to report the accident to their insurance company. The victim’s insurer will side with their insured, but never give them more information than is necessary. Your attorney should also speak to them as the middleman throughout the settlement process.

Gathering Evidence of Liability

Regardless of the victim not being responsible for the accident, they are still responsible for gathering evidence to prove liability. Fortunately, the victim does not have to do this alone, as their attorney will assist them.

The experienced car accident attorney can determine liability based on:

  • Pictures and videos from the scene of the accident
  • Witness statements, including the official police officer report
  • Returning to the scene of the accident to take their pictures

The proof of liability will not only help determine who is at fault, but it will prove that the damages the victim sustained were a direct result of the accident due to the other driver’s negligence.

If all else fails, the car accident victim can file a claim with their own auto insurance company. If the victim has the right coverage, they can cover the cost of repairing damages to their vehicle and more. Your attorney will help you through this process.

What Happens After I Hire an Attorney?

Upon the victim retaining the vehicle accident lawyer, the lawyer will begin the process by notifying the insurance company. The attorney taking control of the claim relieves the client’s stress. After hiring an attorney, there is no need to focus on the legal side of the matter.

For injured clients, the attorney will focus on their medical recovery. The attorney will not give medical advice or advise that you undergo any specific treatments, but they will prove their value by accurately quantifying the value of the victim’s injuries and losses.

Again, this includes the extent of medical treatments, prescription costs, rehabilitation, etc. These all fall under economic losses. The victim’s final economic loss will also include property damage and time away from work.

Some additional losses that can prove more challenging to fully value will include accumulated bills due to being out of work, lost future income, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. These monetary values are intangible or estimates and, therefore, more challenging to calculate as a precise number. However, your attorney will use various tactics to adequately determine a fair figure to cover these expenses.

Once the victim has completed their medical treatment or knows their future prognosis, the car accident attorney will make a demand on the insurance company. Either the insurance provider will agree to the demand and close the case, make a lower settlement offer, or reject the demand entirely.

If the insurance company rejects the offer or does not offer a fair amount, your car accident attorney will file a lawsuit in civil court. From there, the case might settle out of court or a judge or jury will determine what is fair and just compensation for the victim.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today

Tatiana Boohoff, Lawyer for Motorcycle Accident cases near Tampa area.
Tatiana Boohoff, Car Accident Attorney

There are multiple facets of recovery following a car accident. The physical recovery can be extensive, as much medical treatment and rehabilitation can be costly and extensive. Physical pain can lead to mental distress. The difficulties of recovering range far and wide, and dealing with an insurance company is the last thing you should be doing.

Unfortunately, insurance companies are an inherent part of the recovery process, and they don’t make it easy. The for-profit business nature of these insurance companies put a victim at risk of jeopardizing their own claim. Fortunately, an experienced car accident attorney can help mitigate some of this stress. An experienced attorney can help guide the victim through the legal process by speaking to their insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Having an attorney to stand in the middle is beneficial because they can help their client circumvent the various methods insurance companies use to not pay for the damages their client deserves. Additionally, they can handle all negotiations, as reaching a settlement can be long and arduous. The road to recovery is long enough. With an experienced attorney, getting past that roadblock is more than possible.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident, contact an attorney in your area immediately. Get your life back on track. There is no need to go after compensation alone. Call an experienced personal injury lawyer today.

June 1, 2023
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