Dealing With Insurance Companies
After a serious car accident, most injured parties know that the typical first step in seeking financial compensation involves filing an auto insurance claim. However, dealing with insurance companies can be complicated and difficult. You should have an experienced and aggressive accident attorney on your side who can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and help you to get the compensation you are owed.Filing an Insurance Claim After an Accident
Every state has its own auto insurance laws. Some states have no-fault insurance systems in which injured plaintiffs typically deal with their own insurance companies after an accident, while fault-based systems, such as the auto insurance system in California, work a bit differently. In a fault-based system, the injured party can choose whether to file a first-party insurance claim with her own insurer or to file a third-party insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Either way, it will be necessary to deal with an insurance company and to work toward a reasonable settlement offer.Recognizing That the Insurance Company is Not on Your Side
When dealing with insurance companies—even if it is your own insurance company—it is essential to know that the insurance company is not on your side. You should never assume you can be open and honest about your opinion with an insurance adjuster. The insurance company will do everything it can to pay out as little money as possible within the boundaries of the law. Insurance companies are businesses, and their own bottom line is their priority—not an injured person filing a claim.Insurance Company Bad Faith
In some situations, an insurance company does not do what it is supposed to do. In other words, even though an injured person filed a claim in a timely manner and provided all necessary documentation, the insurance company either will not investigate the claim or the insurance company might refuse to offer a reasonable settlement. When dealing with an insurance company results in these types of actions, the injured party may have a bad faith claim.
Each state has its own laws pertaining to insurance bad faith. Under California law, for example, a plaintiff must be able to prove the following to win a bad faith claim for failure to investigate:
- Plaintiff suffered a loss covered by the insurer;
- Plaintiff properly presented a claim to the insurer to be compensated for the loss;
- Insurer failed to conduct a full, fair, prompt, and thorough investigation of all of the bases of the plaintiff’s claim;
- Plaintiff was harmed; and
- Insurer’s failure to investigate the claim was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.
If you or someone you love recently got hurt in an accident, you should have an experienced accident lawyer on your side who can deal with the insurance company on your behalf. Even if you have already begun dealing with the insurance companies involved in the case, our accident attorneys can take over for you and can work to negotiate a reasonable settlement. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.