When it comes to evaluating and settling a car accident claim, most of the major car insurance companies handle them in roughly the same way. They start by examining the facts of the accident (who caused the accident and how it happened), and then review the injuries (how serious they were, medical treatment received, and chances of a full recovery).
Types of Insurance Claims
If you have been in a car accident, you will want to file a claim with either your insurance or the insurance of the person responsible for the accident as quickly as possible. This claim is the first step to receiving compensation for medical expenses, damages to your property, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- First-Party Claim: A first-party claim is one that you file with your own insurance. If you were the party that caused the accident, you will likely want to file the claim with your own car insurance company.
- Third-Party Claim: A third-party claim is a claim that you will file with the insurance company of the person or business that was responsible for causing the accident if you were not the one at fault. For example, if you were hit by a car while crossing the road, while driving your own vehicle, or while riding as a passenger in a vehicle, you should file a third-party claim with the insurance company of the driver who was operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Once you contact the insurance company and report the incident, they will open an investigation into your claim. You may be asked to provide information about the accident including the names of witnesses, your observations about the accident, and photos if you took them. You may also have to submit to a medical exam by an independent provider chosen by the insurance company.
After determining the value of your claim, the insurance company will tell you the settlement amount they are willing to offer you or inform you that they are denying your claim. If you feel the settlement is inadequate or if they have denied your claim, you may want to speak to an attorney to help guide you through the next steps available to you.
Calculating the Value of Your Claim
While some damages are easy to place a dollar amount on, such as medical bills, lost wages, and the damage to your vehicle, other damages are not so easy to determine. Things like pain and suffering are often provided as a part of car accident settlements, but not all people who file injury claims know how that compensation is usually calculated.
There are a few different approaches that insurance companies use to determine pain and suffering damages, but the most common is the use of a multiplier. With this system, your damages that are easier to determine, called special damages, are added up and multiplied by a number anywhere between one and a half to five.
The multiplier number will be higher or lower depending on how serious your injuries were, the amount of damages, the length of your recovery, and whether you sustained any permanent health issues as a result of the accident. Insurance companies may also take into consideration any extenuating circumstances such as whether the driver who caused the accident had been drinking.
Why You Need an Attorney
While you can technically negotiate a settlement with your insurance company on your own, keep in mind that the insurance company is not on your side, despite what their insurance adjuster may tell you. They are going to try to offer you the lowest settlement possible and it may not be the settlement you deserve. If you have been injured in an accident, you should consider speaking to an attorney experienced in car accident settlements like those at D. Hardison Wood. These Cary accident attorneys can help you determine if the settlement your insurance company has offered is appropriate and make sure you get the compensation and settlement that you deserve.