Getting into a car accident is a terrifying experience. The anxiety you feel reliving the experience, the stress of dealing with your injuries and damage to your car, the time it takes to recover your losses, and of course, coping with physical injuries you incurred through your car wreck can be a nightmare. In addition to going through this range of emotions, you have to deal with insurance companies, which can be in intimidating process in and of itself. It is incredibly important that while you’re going through the insurance claim process any auto issue — whether it’s for truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, or car accident settlements — that you know your rights in the process and do not settle for less than you deserve.
A Guide to Your Rights During Personal Injury Settlements After a Car Accident
- You have the right to negotiate your settlement.
When the insurance claim adjuster reviews the damage and injury that you incurred in the accident, their conclusion is not a hard and fast science. The adjuster is supposed to work in good faith to cover any losses you incurred, but it is generally a subjective decision. You have the right to push back if you feel that the settlement offer is too low.
You don’t have to be aggressive in your negotiation. Start by sending a respectful explanation in writing for why their settlement offer is too low, and suggest a more reasonable number. Sometimes the insurance company will only provide a better explanation defending their settlement offer, but sometimes they will be willing to negotiate. Make sure you keep any communication between yourself and the insurance company in writing, either by email or certified mail, so that you have a record of it, should you need to escalate the settlement process to a car accident lawyer.
- You have the right to negotiate the cash value of your totaled vehicle.
The market value of your vehicle goes out the window when it is totaled. There’s no way to truly verify the condition the vehicle was in before it was totaled, not to mention the pain and hardship that you experience in losing your car and having to find a new vehicle. The insurance company you are working with is probably going to offer you a low market value to start with, and you absolutely have the right to negotiate it until you are fairly compensated for the vehicle you lost in the car accident.
- You have the right to escalate your claim to an arbitrator.
If the insurance company you are working with is not compromising to ensure that you are fairly compensated, you have the right to take it to an unbiased arbitrator to ensure a fair outcome. Sometimes, the insurance company may have arbitrators they regularly work with that they suggest using. You can agree to use their arbitrator, or it might be more beneficial to request an independent arbitrator through the American Arbitration Association, to ensure that they are unbiased. It is your right to put the situation in the hands of an arbitrator you trust.
- You have the right to a personal injury lawyer.
Insurance companies have processed millions of insurance claims, whereas this is probably your first time going through the process. You may not know what you need to know to get a fair settlement. Having a personal injury lawyer on your team evens the playing field. Your personal injury lawyer will have the experience under their belt to know what a fair settlement is, and guide you through each step to achieve the most advantageous settlement in your situation.
If necessary, your personal injury lawyer can help you file a lawsuit in order to recover the damage you incurred in your car accident, but they can also get you through the claim process is unscathed as possible. The bottom line is, do not be intimidated into going through the insurance claim process without the personal injury lawyer on your team.
While car insurance companies serve an important piece in your recovery process after a car wreck, they are not always on your team. Knowing your rights will ensure that you get all of the money you deserve.