Being involved in a car accident is an overwhelming experience. The accident itself can be traumatic, especially if you or a loved one suffered injuries. In addition, the aftermath can be extremely stressful and confusing. Not only do you have to seek medical care for your injuries, take time off work, and get your car repaired (or replaced), you also have to deal with insurance companies.
Dealing with your insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver can be a complicated, frustrating process. In theory, you should be able to notify the insurance company of the accident, take your car to a mechanic, get medical care from a doctor, and send your bill to insurance. In reality, however, it is almost never that simple. Car insurance companies generally do not operate with your best interests in mind, doing everything in their power to pay you as little as possible and maintain their profits.
If an accident has happened to you, make sure that you are fully compensated for the damages to your vehicle, the injuries you sustained, and the income you lost from missing work as a result. Here are the things you need to consider when dealing with auto insurance companies:
“Fault” refers to the person who caused the accident. You might be surprised to learn that an insurance company employee—not the police officer at the scene of the crash—examines your claim and determines fault. After your accident has been reported to the insurance company, an insurance adjuster will determine who was at fault by looking at the police report (if one was filed) and all of the evidence from the accident.
Alabama has strict laws in place regarding fault and personal injury claims. Under Alabama’s “contributory negligence” law, if your actions contributed in any way to the accident, you will be barred from making a claim and receiving compensation. This is the case even if you were just 1% responsible for the accident!1 Determining fault can be very subjective, which is why it’s so important to get legal help from an experienced personal injury attorney if there is any question about who is at fault for the accident in which you were injured.
In an automobile accident, property damage refers to the damage done to the vehicles as well as other objects involved, such as buildings and telephone poles.
When you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident, there will likely be damage done to your vehicle, and you may need to file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. An insurance company adjuster will investigate your claim and determine if the other driver was at fault. If so, they will then determine how much they will offer in a settlement. Here, your dealings with the insurance company can get messy. The company may offer a very low settlement based on estimates from their own suggested repair shop—or may deny your claim altogether.
Injuries & Medical Bills
When you’ve been injured in a car accident, paying your medical bills can be a daunting task. Do you file a claim with MedPay? With your own health insurance? With the other driver’s car insurance? Depending on your situation, it may vary.
MedPay, or Medical Payments, is a type of auto insurance coverage you purchase that covers a broad range of medical expenses, regardless of whether or not you were at fault. MedPay may cover, for example, the medical care required to treat your injuries as well as the injuries of any family members in the car with you during the wreck. It may also cover funeral costs.
You may not have MedPay; under Alabama law, it is not required. If that is the case, your options are limited to your own health insurance and the car insurance of the other driver. Not wishing to pay for someone else’s mistake, many injured individuals wish to have the other driver’s car insurance pay for their expenses. Under liability insurance, bodily injury and medical expenses are covered, but the auto insurance company may try to devalue your claim as much as possible or deny it completely. The insurer may attempt to argue that certain medical treatments are unnecessary so that they do not have to pay for them, or they may use low estimates given by their own doctors to decrease the amount of your settlement.
As a result of your injuries from the wreck, you may not be able to return to your job. This can cause a devastating loss in income, which, in combination with extensive medical bills, can create a time of financial crisis.
You may be able to recover some of your lost wages from the other driver’s insurance, depending on the amount of their coverage and the amount of income lost. In addition to covering property damage and medical expenses, liability coverage covers lost wages.4 Again, however, it can be an uphill battle fighting with the other driver’s insurance company to receive this compensation.
At Martinson & Beason, P.C., we have seen how difficult it can be for injured victims to deal with insurance companies. Insurance companies have a long history of misleading and intimidating auto accident victims in order to reduce payout amounts. When talking with an insurance adjuster or other employee at an insurance company, make sure you carefully consider what you say, and do not admit fault. Additionally, look over any settlement agreement in detail before signing it.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, we can help. Our Alabama personal injury attorneys will tirelessly work to pursue your claim, negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf and fighting for the compensation you deserve.
Contact us or request an appointment today. The consultation is free. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay anything until and unless you receive a recovery. To find out the questions you must ask before hiring a personal injury attorney, click here to download our Special Report.