Insurance After an Accident
While car and motorcycle collisions are relatively common, most accident victims are unaware of all the ins and outs of filing a claim with the insurance company. Most car accident victims are still reeling from their injuries and may not be in a position to speak rationally to an insurance adjuster. Small mistakes could cause your claim to be denied. Even if you appeal, it could take a long time to recover the damages you are entitled to, delaying your ability to fix your car, pay your medical bills, or cover day-to-day expenses while you are unable to work.
It is important for you to know that you do not have to speak to an insurance adjuster without representation. As Texas’ oldest plaintiff’s trial law firm, the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner have the experience, skills, and resources you need to secure the compensation you deserve. Our Houston personal injury lawyers can handle your claim with the insurance company so you can focus on the things that really matter, your family and your health. Contact us for a free evaluation of your case today by clicking here or calling 713-244-5477.
Do You Need to Report a Wreck to Insurance Carriers?
There is a great deal to do after a traffic accident. Between assessing your injuries at the hospital, estimating the damage done to your vehicle or motorcycle, and feeling grateful you are still here, it is easy to overlook reporting your collision following the crash quickly.
According to the Texas Transportation Code section 550.026, if you are involved in a collision, as the driver, it is your duty to contact the police “by the quickest means of communication.” This applies if there is an injury or death at the scene, or if there is damage to the vehicles and they cannot drive safely from the accident.
However, there is no law or code stating you must report a car accident to your car insurance company. In fact, most states do not have any rules regarding an obligation of the policyholder to report the collision.
On the other hand, the insurance company usually requires the insured to report a collision soon after the fact. Automobile and motorcycle policies spell out in the contract that a policyholder must report the incident within a “reasonable period of time.” How long is a “reasonable period?” It depends on the insurance company. Some companies may define it as a day or two. When you are injured, this can leave you scrambling to make the call quickly on top of receiving medical care, calling to obtain a copy of the police report, calling and checking local body shops to fix the car, calling a supervisor to explain how much work will be missed, and the list goes on.
Accident victims can be overwhelmed by their injuries, let alone all the other responsibilities. At a time when you want to focus on your family and recovery, having a Houston car accident attorney by your side can help the burden tremendously.
Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner has extensive experience in automobile accidents. Our lawyers understand how stressful the aftermath of a collision can be. Call today and our accident lawyers will help guide you through the process.
Why Are Insurance Carriers Difficult to Deal with After a Crash?
Insurance companies, in theory, exist to provide financial protection from losses that occur due to unforeseen circumstances. There are insurance policies for natural disasters, if your house is flooded or catches fire, and if you are involved in a traffic accident.
Despite their conception, insurance companies are for-profit businesses that will always put their bottom line before your needs. For this reason, an insurance adjuster will investigate your accident. They may;
- Go to the scene of the collision and examine the evidence
- Assess the damage to your car, truck, or motorcycle
- Gather police reports, statements from witnesses, and take your statement
- Contact your medical providers to obtain records to further investigate the injuries caused by the wreck.
An adjuster is looking to assign fault to a driver. If they conclude you bear some responsibility for your accident, your claim may be seriously reduced or denied altogether. Any discrepancy can be reason enough to assign you some of the responsibility. For example, if you were talking on the phone at the time of the accident, they could consider you to be a distracted driver.
Remember, insurance companies want to minimize any settlement for a claim. Our Sugarland and Houston, Texas car accident attorneys can help navigate you through the process and speak to the insurance adjuster on your behalf.
Should You Speak to an Insurance Claims Adjuster?
Texas does not have a law that dictates you must speak with an insurance claims adjuster without representation. A skilled car accident attorney can protect you from some of the more deceitful tactics a claims adjuster might use, including;
Misleading you into giving recorded statements
You may be familiar with the statement, “this call is being recorded for quality purposes.” You do not have to consent to being recorded. In fact, you should never allow an insurance company to record your statements. Simply say, “I will not make a statement without a personal injury attorney.” An adjuster may ask you questions that can hurt your claim.
Calling immediately following your accident
Sometimes insurance companies like to contact you as soon as possible in the hopes they can catch you before an attorney has explained your rights. Car accident victims who hire representation often have higher settlements. An insurance adjuster may convince you to settle your claim immediately before you know the extent of your injuries.
Convincing you not to hire a Houston personal injury attorney
A claims adjuster may try to convince you that hiring a lawyer will complicate your case, delay your settlement, or that having representation is too expensive. For example, the insurance company might say that a car accident attorney’s fees will negate the awarded extra compensation. Although an attorney will receive a portion of the settlement, you will come out ahead financially. You will also have more time to focus on your family instead of dealing with the back-and-forth nature of filing a claim. A skilled accident attorney will fight on your behalf, giving you the peace of mind to concentrate on recovering from your injuries.
Asking you to sign documents
An insurance adjuster may put pressure on you to sign documents right away. Those documents may take away your right to a higher settlement. If your injuries are the result of another driver’s negligent or careless act, do not allow an insurance claims adjuster to deny the compensation you deserve. Let the experienced car accident attorneys in Katy, Texas, investigate your claim and maximize your payout. Call Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner today.
What is Comparative Negligence and How Will it Affect a Claim?
Fault can be challenging to establish in some traffic accidents, especially if more than one vehicle is involved. Most states allocate fault using percentages.
For example, say you were speeding six miles over the speed limit when another car merges into your lane without looking. The other vehicle hits you, causing you to spin off the road. While the other car’s driver may be primarily at fault, say 60%, you were speeding and, therefore, partially to blame, say at 40%.
Modified comparative fault in an automobile collision will distribute blame for the accident. If you have been hurt in an accident, this becomes very important.
Using the same example from above, how would damages be awarded through the insurance company or in civil court?
Let us say your medical bills, damage to your vehicle, lost wages when you could not work, and pain and suffering added to $100,000. You are, however, 40% at fault for the accident. Under Texas’ comparative negligence fault rule, you are entitled to 60% of the $100,000. $60,000 is a significant sum to put towards your recovery, but it is not the grand total.
Further, suppose you speak with an insurance adjuster without an attorney present. If the automobile insurance company finds that you are more than 50% at fault for the accident, your claim will be denied altogether. In Texas, you must be less than 50% responsible for the car crash in order to recover damages.
After an accident, a good rule of thumb is to contact a personal injury attorney in Spring, Texas, as soon as you are able. Finding who is at fault in a traffic collision can be complicated. If you believe your accident is 100% the other driver’s fault, contact our knowledgeable lawyers to protect your rights today.
What if the Insurance Carrier Denies a Claim?
If you are in a car crash due to another driver’s negligence, contacting their insurance company is essential to getting the funds to help you through this difficult time. You may be hurt from the accident, must miss work, and may even be facing uncertainties regarding your recovery.
Still, after speaking with an insurance adjuster, your claim may be denied. While several factors can contribute to a claim being denied, here are some of the most common.
You did not seek immediate medical attention.
Sometimes car accident victims feel fine after the collision and prefer to waive medical treatment. Over the next few hours, days, or even weeks, symptoms can start appearing. An insurance adjuster can argue your injuries are unrelated to the collision or that your injuries were minor and exacerbated by some other unrelated event. Always seek medical attention after an accident to protect yourself and your claim.
You were more than 50% responsible for the collision.
Under Texas law, comparative negligence determines responsibility in a traffic accident and assigns it by percentages. If you are found to be 51% at fault or more by the police, insurance adjuster, or a jury, you are not entitled to damages.
You were breaking the law at the time of the accident.
If you were driving impaired at the time of the accident, your claim would be denied. Even if you had the right of way and the other driver ran a red light, hitting you and causing the crash, you broke the law. Driving impaired could mean drunk driving, driving while on prescription medications that warn not to operate a vehicle, drowsy driving, or driving while having a medical condition that safely affects your ability to use a motor vehicle. Distracted driving has increased in recent years. If you were checking your phone’s GPS, social media, or talking on the phone when the accident occurred, your claim may be denied.
The other driver has not paid their monthly premiums.
Another reason for a claim to be denied may have nothing to do with you. If the driver who caused the car accident is not up to date on their policy payments, the insurance company can deny your claim. Even one missed payment is enough for the insurance company to forego a settlement.
You do not understand your policy.
Car insurance companies have different levels of coverage with lengthy contracts that can be challenging to understand fully. The damage may not be covered under your policy. An example might be if you were using your personal car for business purposes. A knowledgeable car accident attorney can help guide you through submitting a claim.
You committed fraud or may have unknowingly provided false information when submitting a claim.
When filling out the application, you must be sure to be as accurate as possible. For instance, suppose you file an application stating you were not driving under the influence or impaired in any way. However, when you speak with the insurance adjuster, you admit you were sick the day of the accident and had taken cold medicine. If the cold medication causes drowsiness, your claim may be denied due to false information.
Alternatively, if you exaggerated your injuries or damage to the vehicle, an insurance company will deny your claim based on fraud.
You did not report the accident in a timely manner
Most insurance companies require you to report any traffic collision in a reasonable amount of time. What the insurance company believes to be timely can depend on the circumstances. If you suffered severe injuries and remained in ICU for an extended amount of time, an insurance company may be more lenient on the amount of time. However, if it was a minor car accident, the company could require you to report the incident in as little as 24 hours.
The at-fault driver is excluded from the policy.
An insured driver may lend their car to a friend, partner, or even an older child in some cases. If their policy does not cover other drivers and the excluded driver causes the accident, your claim may be denied. Contacting one of the skilled car accident attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner can help you navigate how to handle an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim.
What to Do If Your Car Insurance Claim is Denied
Having your claim denied is frustrating. If you have been hurt in an accident due to another’s negligence and feel you have been wrongfully denied, there are several ways to fight back, including;
- Gathering more evidence and appealing the denial. Do you have photos from the scene? Are they at different angles? Do you have witness testimony? What does the police report say? Assemble all the evidence you can to support your claim and contact the insurance company again to appeal your claim.
- You can also request a letter from the automobile insurance company detailing why they denied your claim. If the insurance adjuster denied the claim for reasons you believe to be unfair, the letter could serve as critical evidence in a bad-faith lawsuit.
- In some cases, you can fight back by contacting the Texas Insurance Commissioner. The director of insurance protects consumers. If the insurance company is not following state policy, you may be able to file a complaint against the insurance company.
Most people want to get their life back to normal as soon as possible after a car accident. Fighting an insurance company on top of recuperating from your injuries is often the last thing anyone wants to do. Let our Houston personal injury lawyers fight on your behalf so you can concentrate on the important things in your life. At Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, we put our clients first.
Why You Should Choose Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner to Protect Your Rights
If you or someone you love has been injured in a traffic accident due to the careless acts of another driver, our Houston car accident attorneys are here for you. At Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, your rights come first. With over 70 years of personal injury experience, our lawyers successfully handle a wide range of claims, including;
You are entitled to compensation for your injuries. Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner can help. Contact our highly sought personal injury lawyers in Houston, Texas, to protect your rights. You can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or by calling 713-244-5477.
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