You have submitted an insurance claim to recover compensation for the damages you sustained in a car accident, and the insurance company tells you they can take care of everything, including the investigation. Do you still need to hire a personal injury attorney? Here’s why our legal experts in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Austin recommend always working with a lawyer of your own.
How the Claims Process Works
When you buy insurance, the insurance company agrees to pay claims that meet the requirements set by your policy terms in exchange for a premium. In the case of a car accident, your terms could specify that the policy will cover property damage, personal injury, and some other losses like lost wages. All drivers must carry liability insurance, which pays for the damages they cause another driver to incur.
Whether you submit a claim to your own insurance company or the other driver’s liability insurance, the insurance company that receives it will investigate the accident before agreeing to issue a payout. As you can imagine, the insurance company has a financial interest in disproving the validity of the claim. Therefore, you can expect the claims adjuster they send out, and all of the representatives who correspond with you, to be biased.
What Does the Claims Adjuster Do?
The claims adjuster is an individual who works for the insurance company to investigate accidents. He or she will likely go to the scene of the accident and/or the location where the damaged vehicles are being stored to examine the physical evidence. The report that he or she makes will factor heavily into the insurance company’s decision to approve or deny the claim.
It’s important to understand that the claims adjuster does not have the legal authority to make any absolute determinations regarding the cause of the accident or the severity of the damages. He or she represents the insurance company rather than the police or any governing body. You have the right to hire a lawyer who can conduct a parallel investigation that will focus on uncovering evidence in your favor.
Should You Talk to the Claims Adjuster?
Depending on when and where the claims adjuster goes to investigate the accident, you may never run into him or her. If you do, you are under no obligation to answer any questions or sign any documents.
Your statements would most likely be used to “prove” that your actions contributed to the crash or to downplay the cost of your damages. If the claims adjuster asks you for a statement, you have the right to decline politely, saying that all correspondence should go through your lawyer.
What Can Your Personal Injury Attorney Do?
Your lawyer’s job is to help you build a case supporting your claim, even if the claims adjuster presents evidence against you. In many cases, claimants can recover more money for their damages than they expected based on the recommendations of their lawyers. Here is how a lawyer can contribute to your case:
Finding Evidence in Your Favor
The insurance company is obligated to honor the terms of its policy. When a claim is filed against a liability insurance policy, the company must issue a payout for the value of eligible damages if the driver who purchased the policy is found to be at fault in the accident. Therefore, to present a successful personal injury claim against another driver’s insurance, you must have evidence showing that:
- The other driver caused the accident
- The accident caused you to experience specific losses
If you are submitting a claim with your own insurance company, you will most likely not need to show that another driver was at fault. You will, however, need to demonstrate that you experienced losses due to the accident and that you are eligible for a payout based on your policy’s terms. Your lawyer can help you collect strong evidence that meets legal standards.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
Insurance companies are only incentivized to honor claims that would hold up in court. Honoring the claim without going to trial is a way to pay the unavoidable cost of the claim without incurring the additional legal fees associated with a trial. The best way to maximize the value of your claim is by working with a lawyer who can use evidence to show the insurance company why they are obligated to pay the full value of your losses.
The insurance company may accept your claim only to offer a payout that is too low. In that situation, your lawyer can get in touch with them to review your losses and argue for an increase in the compensation they will provide. You want to be sure that the settlement offer you accept is appropriate because once you sign the release documents, you will not be able to ask for more money.
Litigating in Court
If the insurance company refuses to honor its contractual obligations, you can file a lawsuit. In that case, your lawyer will present your arguments on your behalf. Going to court involves preparing evidence according to legal standards and composing convincing arguments. Your lawyer may need to subpoena additional evidence or call on expert witnesses, such as an accountant, an economist, a physician, or an accident reconstruction specialist.
Providing Legal Guidance
Throughout the entire process of pursuing compensation, your lawyer will provide legal advice to keep you informed and help you make calculated decisions. For example, he or she will make you aware of the statute of limitations and any other deadlines that could come up. If you get a settlement offer, he or she can help you decide whether or not to accept it. He or she can also help you review the pros and cons of going to trial.
Where Can I Find a Personal Injury Attorney in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, or Austin?
When you choose a personal injury attorney, you want to be sure to select a qualified individual who will truly work toward your best interests. Our firm has an outstanding track record of securing millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, helping injured individuals stand up to big insurance companies. For a free consultation with us, call 210-951-2024.
We understand that taking steps to pursue compensation can be challenging when you are injured, which is why we offer both home and hospital visits. Our services are available in both English and Spanish, and you can call us 24 hours per day. We work on a contingency fee basis to make legal support accessible without any up-front costs.
You Can Influence the Outcome of Your Claim
While the insurance company may promise to “take care of everything,” you should always work with a lawyer who will fight for your right to receive the maximum value of your claim. There is no reason why only the insurance company should have access to experts like a claims adjuster. To find a lawyer in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, or Austin who will bring expertise to your case, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC.