Do You Need an Attorney to Help File Your Car Accident Claim?
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
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If you have received a car accident settlement offer from your insurance company, an attorney can help you get the best value for your claim. An insurance attorney familiar with settling car accident claims will be able to:
- Review your settlement offer to determine whether or not it is fair;
- Negotiate with the insurance company in an effort to increase the settlement;
- File a lawsuit should your insurance company stall negotiations.
Insurance companies often benefit from quickly-settled car accident claims because early offers can be low. Although closing the door on a car insurance process may be desirable, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution before agreeing to a settlement—particularly if you have a high-dollar claim.
TIP: Most car insurance attorneys offer free claim consultations, and contacting one does not obligate you to hire that attorney. Consulting with a lawyer before agreeing to a settlement can give you a better idea of the strength of your claim and legal options without costing you money. See Negotiating Fees with a Car Accident Lawyer for more.
Reviewing the Car Insurance Settlement Offer
Car insurance settlements are determined by the circumstances of the accident, the language of the car insurance policy, and the controlling law. An experienced attorney will understand how all three of these components come together when assessing the value of your claim. If the insurance company gives you a settlement offer lower than what you expected, an attorney can review the details and provide advice as to whether the value is appropriate given the situation and your insurance policy.
Tip: Car insurance companies make money by short-paying claims, and, like any business, making money is the primary objective. While this does not mean your insurance company is untrustworthy, it does suggest that you should be wary of any settlement offer and review the fine print closely before signing.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
If the car accident settlement offered to you is lower than you are willing to accept, and you intend to negotiate a better offer, an attorney can be a valuable asset. Insurance companies have well-trained experts familiar with claim settlement negotiations, so you may be at a disadvantage before the bargaining even begins. Although you could get an increased offer by challenging the insurance company, it is difficult to maximize a settlement without assistance from an attorney.
A lawyer will approach the negotiation process with the experience and knowledge necessary to level the playing field. An attorney will know how to request damages beyond medical bills and vehicle repair costs, and attempt to include damages for pain and suffering or loss of income that go beyond what a basic policy may cover. A lawyer will also be able to put increased pressure on the insurance company by being savvy enough to pursue litigation should negotiations break down.
Tip: Negotiating a car accident settlement will mean that it takes longer for you to collect the insurance payout, however, if you can afford to do so, being patient can pay off with a higher settlement in the end.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
Should you be unable to agree on a fair car accident settlement, a lawsuit against the insurance company becomes a realistic option. In this event, a car insurance attorney is a necessity and should be contacted before any legal action is filed. Auto insurance settlements that are contentious to the point of litigation involve difficult questions of fact and law that will be decided based on the strength of legal arguments that laypeople are unprepared to pursue.
Consulting a Car Insurance Attorney
Although the value of hiring an attorney varies with each situation, having experienced legal counsel will help anyone injured in a car accident improve their chances of getting a high claim settlement. Attorneys take a portion of the final amount, and settlement negotiations will delay your payout; but more often than not, it is worth the added cost—particularly with high dollar claims. When considering a car insurance settlement, remember to be patient, consider all of your options, and reach out to an attorney for a free consultation before accepting money from your insurance company.
Related Video Content: When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in the Insurance Claim Process