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Filing an Insurance Claim v. Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

PA - Flora Templeton Stuart
When automobile accidents and other accidents occur, the victim usually has the right to file some sort of claim. The person can either file an insurance claim or a personal injury claim. In some situations, victims cannot file both types of claims on the same incident. The following are some steps that a person can take specifically to file an automobile injury claim. Other injuries apply, as well, but the auto injuries are the most common.

Filing an Insurance Claim

Most drivers have an automobile insurance policy because the law states that they must have it. The automobile insurance policy is supposed to cover victims in case of bodily harm and injury. A standard vehicle insurance policy may offer $5,000 to $20,000 of funds to cover someone’s injuries and losses.

An accident victim’s first priority is getting himself or herself medical care. The individual will need to get care as quickly as possible. If the victim is able to take pictures or videos of the accident damage, that person can use it later. Having a police report created is a good idea, as well.

A person can start an insurance claim in one of two ways. The individual can call the number on the back of the insurance card, or the person can go to the insurance website and see if the company offers an online claim initiation process. The driver will have to supply information such as the insurance policy number, the license plate of the other vehicle, the location of the accident and some information about what happened.

Claims investigators will then examine the information that they have been given, and they will make a decision based on that. The company will pay for the repairs that the policy states it must pay. Sometimes insurance companies refuse to pay claims for a variety of reasons.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

A personal injury claim is a little different than an insurance claim is. A personal injury claim must be handled by a Kentucky or Tennessee attorney. A victim may be eligible for compensatory damages and punitive damages that surpass the amount that he or she would receive from an insurance claim. The compensatory damages consist of a total amount that covers the person’s medical bills, medications, therapy sessions, lost work wages and more.

Punitive damages are additional funds that a victim may receive if an offender is extra neglectful. Extra neglectful means that the person did something that showed complete disregard for human life. Drunk driving is an example of something that may warrant a judgment for punitive damages.

A victim can initiate a meeting with a personal injury attorney by calling the office or completing a short form. The attorney will schedule an initial meeting during which the parties can speak to each other about the incident. The Bowling Green attorney will offer his or her services if the case is viable, meaning that the chances for reimbursement are high.

The victim will have to furnish evidence of injuries and the expenses that resulted from the injuries. Additional evidence like pictures and videos can work well with for a person who has suffered a personal injury. Some law offices ask for retainer fees, and some of them offer contingency representation to accident victims. Contingency representation is the representation that defers the retainer fees until the lawyer wins the case. It is also called no-win-no-fee representation. The attorney will first try to negotiate for an out-of-court settlement, but he or she will take it to court if the negotiation does not work.

Those are the basic steps for filing important claims. A victim can start there to get the compensation that he or she deserves.

Are You Being Offered a Fair Personal Injury Settlement?

If you are involved in an accident resulting in personal injury, you are likely already aware that the insurance company is not in the game to get you every last dollar you deserve. In fact, it is in the best interest of the insurance company to get you to accept a quick settlement, which may not account for all of the damage you have suffered or any costs you may incur after the accident. Before you accept a settlement that is less than you deserve and get wrapped up in getting back to your normal life, consider the following tips to be sure you are being offered a fair settlement by the insurance company.

Beware of bad faith tactics

If an insurance claims adjuster begins the process by denying your claim outright, this is likely an indication that the settlement process will involve bad faith negotiations. For example, if you suffer serious injury from an accident and the claims adjuster fails to provide any compensation for your injury, this is likely a sign of bad faith.

Watch out for the statute of limitations

The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for personal injury claims for an accident varies by state. This is an important deadline to keep in mind if you are an accident victim because if you do not file the lawsuit within this timeline, you may be prevented for suing on your claim. If your claims adjuster fails to offer a reasonable settlement offer, you may need to file suit to protect your rights to recover from the accident.

If your claims adjuster engages in reasonable delay or stall tactics in responding or presenting an offer, this may be an indication that the claims adjuster is attempting to run you out of the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit. On the other hand, your claims adjuster may try to force you into an unreasonable and undervalued settlement offer by telling you that the statute of limitations has expired and your claim will become worthless. To prevent unnecessary surprises, make sure you know the applicable statute of limitations before you begin negotiations to settle your claim.

Do not be pressured by unreasonable time limits

The insurance company has every incentive to pressure you into a quick settlement. The quicker you settle, the less likely that the full extent of your injuries costs and expenses arising from the accident will be taken into consideration into the settlement amount. If the claims adjuster presents you with an unreasonable deadline for accepting a settlement offer, be wary that the adjuster may be undervaluing the amount of your claim. Before accepting any offers, make sure that extent of your injuries and expenses have been taken into consideration. If not, you may be left with unexpected out-of-pocket expenses that the settlement amount does not cover.

Remember, if you are the victim of an auto accident, the insurance company is not necessarily on your side. Negotiating a fair settlement requires attention to detail and an in-depth understanding of the claims process to make sure you are accounting for long term injuries and all of the expenses that will arise from your accident. An experienced Bowling Green lawyer can be a powerful advocate in ensuring that you are fully compensated for your injuries in the most expedient way possible. If you choose to engage a lawyer in negotiating a fair settlement, the sooner you invoke your lawyer in the process, the more likely your attorney can recover a fair settlement for you.

Author Photo

Flora Templeton Stuart

Flora Templeton Stuart is the lead attorney and founder of the law firm Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, established in 1976. She is a nationally recognized personal injury lawyer with over 40 years of experience. Her story has been featured on Fox, The New York Times, ABC, Time, and NBC.