If you or somebody you love has been injured in a vehicle accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver, then you should be able to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses. However, we often receive questions about how the car accident settlement process works when dealing with insurance carriers. Admittedly, this process can seem daunting, particularly when you are working with injuries and trying to get your car repaired. Here, we want to discuss how the car accident settlement process works in California.
You seek medical care
The very first step in this process is medical care. You must seek immediate medical care for any injuries you sustained in a car accident caused by another party. Failing to do so could seriously jeopardize your ability to recover compensation.
You report the incident
All insurance carriers require that claims be reported very soon after the incident occurs. This usually means within a day or two. When you report a crash to your insurance carrier, you do not initially need to go into much detail at all. Your insurance carrier just needs to know that the incident occurred and very basic details about what happened, including the information of the other driver(s) as well as whether or not you are seeking medical care for your injuries.
You go through the investigation
After you file your claim with your insurance carrier, your carrier will, in turn, file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. One or both of the insurance carriers will conduct an investigation into the incident, and this investigation will be led by an insurance claims adjuster. Various types of evidence will be used by claims adjusters as they work to determine what happened, including the following:
- The official police report
- Photographs from the accident scene
- Any video surveillance from the scene
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Testimony from other drivers involved
An insurance claims adjuster may even go to the scene of the crash or examine the vehicles in question. They will also seek to have your medical records released to them so they can determine the extent of your injuries.
You refuse low settlement offers
The insurance carrier for any at-fault driver does not work for you, and they will do anything they can to limit the amount of money they pay in a settlement. In general, the first settlement offers will likely be far below what you should receive, and you may have to refuse the first offer. In fact, you may have to send back a demand letter asking for the full amount that you believe you are owed. However, never accept a settlement from an insurance carrier until you have reached what your doctor considers maximum medical improvement.
You continue medical care
You must continue all medical treatment recommended by your doctor until you have fully recovered. There is no way to fully understand how much you should receive in a settlement until you know what all of your medical bills will be. If you fail to continue follow-up care, the insurance claims adjuster for the other driver will use this as a sign that you are not as injured as you claim.
You work with an attorney
Even though this is the last thing we discuss here, you really should involve a Newport Beach car accident attorney early in the process, particularly if the fault is disputed for the car accident. A skilled California car accident lawyer can use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the case, determine liability, help ensure that you receive adequate medical care, and handle all communication with aggressive insurance carriers. An attorney will be responsible for properly calculating all of your expenses and sending a demand letter to the insurance carriers.