What are the Steps Involved in an Auto Accident Insurance Claim?
If you have been injured in an auto accident in Denver and are thinking about dealing with the insurance companies, there is a lot you need to know. While you certainly can handle your claim by yourself (and countless accident victims choose to do this every day), due to the complexities and potential long-term implications, we strongly recommend that you at least discuss your claim with an experienced personal injury attorney.
1. Filing Your Claim
The first step in dealing with the insurance companies is to file a claim. Generally, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company even if you believe that someone else was 100 percent at fault in the accident. If another driver was at fault (and if there is evidence to prove it), then your insurance company may pay you directly while seeking subrogation from the at-fault driver’s insurer.
2. Dealing with Your Adjuster
When you file an accident claim, your insurance company will assign an adjuster (or “claims representative”) to be your point of contact. This is where things start to get tricky for most people. While you will need to establish that the other driver was at fault in order to collect a settlement, you also need to be extremely careful to avoid saying anything that the insurance companies can use against you.
Every phone call you have with your adjuster is potentially going to be recorded. While you may be told that this is for your benefit (or for “quality control” purposes), the reality is that these recordings are much more likely to be used against you. Even statements like, “I don’t know” or “I think I feel fine” can have damaging consequences, and you can expect your adjuster to question any changes in your recollection or medical condition.
3. Vehicle Estimates and Repairs
You have the right to take your vehicle to the repair shop of your choosing, and you have the right to obtain an accurate estimate for the full cost of restoring your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. Your insurance company is likely to try to get you to go to one of its “preferred” repair shops, and your adjuster may even visit your home or the shop to look at the damage personally. Once again, these steps are all for your insurance company’s benefit, and you should not let yourself be forced into accepting a less-than-complete repair.
4. Determining the Financial and Non-Financial Costs of Your Injuries
If you were injured in the accident, the financial and non-financial costs of your injuries will make up the largest portion of your settlement. You need to see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident, and you need to make sure you have a complete understanding of the long-term effects of your injuries.
5. Deciding When (and If) to Settle
Calculating your losses is a critical step in your auto accident insurance claim. Until you know the full extent of your losses, you simply have no way of knowing whether the insurance company’s settlement offer is fair (hint: it probably is not). When you settle, you will waive your right to seek additional payment, and you will also forfeit your right to take your insurance company to court. The decision to settle is one that needs to be taken very seriously, and it is one that generally requires the advice of an experienced attorney.
Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation at Levine Law
Levine Law is a Denver personal injury law firm helps auto accident victims secure just compensation from the insurance companies. If you are thinking about handling your claim on your own, we encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about the benefits of legal representation. To speak with a lawyer about your claim in confidence, call us at 303-333-8000 or inquire online today.