After a car accident, you will need to determine who was at fault in order to understand how to proceed. If you caused the accident, then the victim of the crash will need to contact your insurance company in order to have their medical bills and personal costs compensated by your policy. If the other driver caused the crash, then you will need to file a claim with their insurance company. They will then assign a claims adjuster to your case, who will spend the next few weeks investigating the entire situation before returning to you with a settlement amount. Simple, right? Well, not as simple as they would like you to believe.
If you have been injured in a car accident that someone else caused, it is important that you understand how the claims process works, how an insurance company determines the amount of money to pay a victim, and how you can use this information as you move forward with a series of negotiations in order to get the money that you truly deserve. Ultimately, the best way to get through this entire process with the best chances of a fair settlement is with the help of an experienced car accident lawyer in Fresno.
Read more below to learn about what to expect after filing an auto insurance claim in Fresno, and contact us now to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced legal professional. We will be able to guide you through the entire process, advocating on your behalf to ensure that you are treated fairly and get the money that you not only need but deserve. Our history of successful insurance claims and settlement negotiations will be a significant asset to your own process, which we will be able to discuss in greater detail during our consultation session.
Hiring A Fresno Attorney For an Auto Insurance Claim
When you first file an accident claim with an auto insurance company in California, you will be contacted by a claims adjuster who will investigate your claim on behalf of their employer, the insurance company. They will explore details and evidence like the police report and accident report, as well as arrest records or the nature of any citations that were issued at the scene of the accident in order to determine the contributing factors of the accident and to assign levels of fault. They will be looking for any evidence that will assign some degree of comparative negligence to you, in order to reduce the final amount that they need to pay in a settlement.
With the help of an attorney, you will be able to make your own position clear and make sure that the level of fault applied to you and the other driver are representative of what actually happened. If your settlement is reduced because of comparative fault, it is important that the amount is accurate, and your lawyer will fight to make sure that this is the case.
Undergoing a Medical Exam
They will likely require that you submit to an independent medical examination in order to verify the injuries that you have suffered from the accident, and will attempt to question the origin of certain injuries, and possibly suggest that they were pre-existing, and therefore not applicable to the accident claim. Remember during this examination that the doctor, while operating “independently,” is a hired contractor of the insurance company, and therefore working on their behalf. Anything that you say during this exam will be analyzed as a possible way to reduce your settlement amount.
With the help of an attorney, you will be able to take this exam and know exactly how to interact with the doctor who is performing the examination. Around the same time, your attorney will be able to direct you in your own medical exam, performed by your own doctor, in order to provide substantive evidence to compare to the “independent” findings.
Negotiating a Settlement
Finally, the claims adjuster will return to you with an offer, in the form of a lump payment. In exchange for this lump sum, you will need to waive your rights to any future legal action against the insurance company or the other driver regarding this accident or any future damages that you may incur as a result of it. There are a lot of problems with this situation, but the most significant problem is that the amount an insurance company will offer you is rarely, if ever, the amount you truly deserve.
The insurance company would like you to believe that their initial offer is the best you can do, but with an attorney, this will simply be the start of an ongoing negotiation. Hopefully, your attorney will be able to reach a settlement agreement without needing to file a lawsuit in the California courts, but if the situation calls for it, the next step will be to move forward and begin to prepare for trial. Luckily, your lawyer has been on the case for the entire time and is ready to go.