Settling Auto Claims with Insurance Companies
The Accident can determine how simple or complicated the insurance claim can be. Self-representation to an accident claim can save you a lot that may go towards attorney fees (which is usually 1/3rd of the claim). However, there are a couple of variables that you need to consider before taking that leap of faith.
- Factually clear that the other party was at fault – If it is obvious that the opposite party is clearly at fault and if you have witnesses that can endorse your side of the story, you can claim the insurance on your own.
- How serious was it? – If it was just a dent with a few scrapes here and there, then, a self-representation of the claim would suffice.
For serious accidents, it is, however, a whole different ball game and to be on the winning side of the claim, it is essential that you hire a lawyer. While estimating your damage, there are two kinds of calculations that are made use of, namely, the exact calculation for damages that can be specified and calculations that can’t be specified as in general damages.
Special damages usually include the costs incurred to fix the car after the accident. This may also include medical bills and other financial losses incurred as a result of the accident while general damages include the mental anguish, pain, and suffering that you had to endure in the course of time after the incident.
Steps that define a Claim Settlement
An insurance company will investigate and come to a considerably good understanding of facts that led to the accident. The company will also analyze the claimant’s injuries and other losses leading to the accident.
Hearing out the other side of the story
The insurance company would want to find out in detail what the policyholder has to say with regards to the accident. Thorough scrutiny of facts will be undertaken. The insurance company will also examine police reports and accident reports related to the incident
Examination of the documentation of the claim
The insurance company will request from the claimant, various documents in relation to the claim, like property damage papers, medical bills, tax returns and proof of employment. Once these documents are received, the company scans through it carefully, hoping to spot any kind of discrepancy, inconsistencies and possible maligning of facts.
The company values a case and fixes an amount to be paid depending upon an analysis of the claimant’s chances of winning a full settlement in court. It will also examine how much a jury in court might award the plaintiff.
Determining the value entitled for a claim on pain and suffering
Coming to a figure claimed for pain and suffering is by far the most difficult to decide on. Thus, the plaintiff’s lawyers and the insurance company representatives sit together to deliberate and come to an amicable figure. Insurance companies have now also started using special software to assign value to pain and suffering.
As is prevalent in any claim, the opposite side will try to low ball you as much as possible and reach a settlement out of court. Negotiating and re-negotiating is key to getting a good settlement. There is always the option of going to court and fighting it out to the end. But there is always a risk involved in going to court too. Depending on how smart the lawyer is, the jury might decide against giving you what you deserve. In some cases, you may not receive anything at all.
However, an advantage of settling a claim out of court is that you can avoid the lengthy and protracted proceedings that are synonymous with any case. It can also involve innumerable court appearances and increasingly high litigation costs.