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What Can I Do if an Insurance Company Denies My Car Accident Claim?

What Can I Do if an Insurance Company Denies My Car Accident Claim?

Newport Beach car accident lawyer or attorneyBeing in a car accident is scary enough. But it can feel like a nightmare when insurance companies refuse to pay for your damages.

In this situation, you may wonder what to do next. The most important step is contacting an experienced Newport Beach car accident lawyer or attorney who can fight the insurance company for the compensation you deserve.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!

Why Claims Get Denied

There are many reasons why an insurance company might deny a car accident claim:

Disputing Who Was at Fault for the Crash

One common reason insurance companies deny car accident claims is by arguing that their policyholder was not to blame for the crash. They may try to shift the fault onto you or another party.

To prove liability, your lawyer will gather:

  • Police accident reports
  • Photographs of the accident scene and vehicle damage
  • Video footage from traffic or surveillance cameras
  • Witness statements
  • Cell phone records (to show the other driver was distracted)
  • Data from the vehicles’ electronic control modules
  • Accident reconstruction expert analysis

Your attorney will use this proof to demonstrate how the other driver’s negligence caused the accident.

Examples of negligence include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Distracted driving (texting, eating, grooming, etc.)
  • Reckless driving (weaving, road rage, etc.)
  • Failing to yield
  • Tailgating
  • Improper lane changes
  • Driving while fatigued

If the insurance company continues to unfairly point the finger at you, your lawyer may need to file a lawsuit and present your evidence in court. The goal is to prove the other driver bears legal liability for your injuries and other losses.

Claiming the Policy Doesn’t Cover the Damage 

Auto insurance policies are long, complex contracts full of legal jargon. Insurance companies may try to wrongly deny your claim by asserting your situation isn’t covered based on the policy language.

Claiming the Policy Doesn’t Cover the Damage 

For example, the insurance company might claim:

  • The at-fault driver’s policy had lapsed due to nonpayment of premiums
  • The at-fault driver was excluded from the policy
  • The at-fault driver was not listed on the policy
  • The vehicle involved was not listed on the policy
  • The policyholder gave false information on the insurance application
  • The damage is excluded based on policy terms (such as a business-use exclusion)

A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can cut through confusing insurance-speak and determine whether policy exclusions apply to your claim. In many cases, these reasons for denial don’t hold up under scrutiny.

If the at-fault driver wasn’t covered, you can get compensation through your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Your lawyer can identify all possible insurance policies that apply to your accident.

Arguing Your Injuries Were Pre-Existing and Not Caused by the Accident

A favorite tactic of insurance companies is claiming that accident victims’ injuries were pre-existing and not a result of the recent crash.

Adjusters scour your past medical records looking for any mention of similar conditions before the accident, such as:

  • Prior neck, back, or joint pain
  • Previous concussions
  • Old fractures or sprains
  • Degenerative conditions like arthritis
  • Chronic pain conditions

The insurance company may argue that your current symptoms are just a continuation of old medical problems and were not caused by their policyholder. They may offer a lowball settlement or deny your injury claim based on pre-existing conditions.

Your car accident lawyer can gather extensive medical evidence to combat these arguments and prove your injuries’ origin, severity, and impact.

This may include:

  • Testimony from your treating physicians
  • Medical imaging scans (X-rays, CTs, MRIs)
  • Photos of visible injuries
  • Pain journal describing your symptoms
  • Prescription medication history
  • Medical expense records showing treatment you needed after the crash

If you had prior injuries that were made worse by the accident, you are still entitled to compensation for any additional harm. This is often called the eggshell skull rule. The at-fault party is liable for the full extent of damage caused, even if you were more susceptible to injury than the average person.

An experienced attorney can ensure the insurance company does not use pre-existing conditions as an excuse to avoid paying the full value of your claim.

Asserting You Didn’t Get Proper Medical Treatment

Insurance companies may try to downplay the severity of your injuries by criticizing the medical care you received (or didn’t receive) after an accident.

They may assert:

  • You waited too long to get treatment after the crash
  • You didn’t follow up with recommended care
  • You missed doctor appointments
  • You stopped treatment too soon
  • You didn’t fill prescribed medications
  • The treatment you got was excessive or unrelated to the accident

Adjusters are looking for gaps or inconsistencies in your medical care that they can use against you. They may argue that your injuries must not have been that serious if you delayed or skipped treatment. On the flip side, they may claim you saw doctors or therapists more than they think you should have or received unnecessary treatments.

These assertions can be very upsetting when you know how much you are suffering from accident injuries. The insurance company does not get to dictate the medical care you need.

Your lawyer can document your treatment and prove its appropriateness for your condition.

You should not feel pressured to undergo any specific treatments, but:

  • Get evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident
  • Follow your provider’s treatment plan
  • Attend all follow-up appointments
  • Keep records of all prescriptions, treatments, and medical expenses
  • Be honest with your doctors about your injuries and limitations
  • Notify providers about any recommended treatments you decline

That way, if the insurance company later challenges your medical care, you and your car accident lawyer can show you acted reasonably and nothing about your treatment disqualifies you from fair injury compensation.

Stating You Missed Deadlines for Filing Claims or Lawsuits

Yet another reason insurance companies give for denying accident claims is that you supposedly waited too long to file. Every state has strict legal deadlines for filing insurance claims and injury lawsuits. If you miss them, you lose your right to pursue compensation.

For insurance claims, you typically have to notify the insurer very promptly after an accident, often within a matter of days. The adjuster may tell you that you reported the crash too late, so your claim is invalid.

Filing Claims or Lawsuits

Sometimes, insurance policies have specific notice requirements. Other times, the company may argue you failed to cooperate with a prompt claims investigation. Either way, they’ll try to avoid paying by saying you blew the deadline.

Even if your insurance claim is filed on time, you must also keep track of the statute of limitations for a car accident lawsuit. In most states, you have between one and six years after the accident date to sue the at-fault driver, depending on the type of claim. This deadline may be extended for accidents involving government vehicles or minor children.

A good lawyer will ensure you meet all applicable insurance and legal deadlines. Sometimes, there are valid reasons to delay filing a claim, such as when you are catastrophically injured and physically incapable of prompt reporting.

If an insurance company unfairly denies your claim based on missing a notification deadline, your car accident lawyer can push back and demand the compensation you deserve. If necessary, they’ll file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires to protect your rights.

Don’t let the insurance company wrongly deny your car accident claim based on bogus timing technicalities. Call an experienced lawyer immediately after a crash to avoid missed deadlines and get your case started on the right track.

Insurance companies are always looking for ways to avoid paying claims. They may use confusing policy language, pressure you to accept lowball settlements, or unfairly shift blame onto you. A skilled car accident lawyer knows their sneaky tactics and won’t let them get away with it.

Your Health Comes First

No matter what the insurance company says, your top priority after a car accident must be your physical recovery. Even if you feel okay at first, get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Shock and adrenaline can mask injury symptoms, and you may be more hurt than you realize.

Some car accident injuries, like whiplash, concussions, or internal bleeding, are not always obvious right away. That’s why you need a medical professional to evaluate you promptly after a crash.

Not only will getting timely treatment help you heal faster, but it also creates important records of your injuries and connects them directly to the accident. Without this proof, the insurance company may argue your injuries aren’t that serious or something else caused them.

Be sure to attend all follow-up medical appointments and complete the treatment plan recommended by your doctors.

The insurance company will watch to see if you stop or delay treatment. They may claim this means you aren’t really hurt. Your car accident attorney can make sure your medical records are in order and prove the extent of your injuries to the insurer.

What to Say (and Not Say) to the Insurance Company

In the aftermath of a car accident, you’ll likely have to communicate with your and/or the other driver’s insurance companies. The insurance adjuster may seem caring, but their goal is to find ways to deny your claim or pay you as little as possible.

Let your lawyer talk to them. You can tell them what happened, but don’t give them details they haven’t asked for. Don’t apologize or say something that can be twisted as admitting liability for the crash.

The adjuster will probably ask you to give a recorded statement about the accident and your injuries. Never do this. Politely decline and direct them to talk to your lawyer instead. They may try to use your own words against you later.

Insurance companies may offer quick, lowball settlements soon after an accident. They may pressure you to accept it, saying it’s the best you’ll get. Don’t fall for it. Never agree to a settlement without consulting a car accident lawyer first.

Once you accept a settlement offer, you typically can’t return later and ask for more money if your injuries are worse than you thought. A lawyer can evaluate any settlement offers and advise you whether they are fair.

Let your attorney handle all conversations and negotiations with the insurance company so you don’t say anything that can jeopardize your claim.

Demanding Proper Compensation

fair compensation

It’s not enough for the insurance company to eventually offer you some money for your accident. You deserve full and fair compensation for all the ways the crash has affected your life—physically, emotionally, and financially.

A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will fight to get you maximum recovery for:

  • Past, current, and future medical expenses related to the accident
  • Lost income from any time you missed work
  • Reduced future earning capacity if you can’t return to your previous job
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Damaged personal property
  • Funeral and burial expenses, in case of a wrongful death

Your lawyer may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company to get them to pay up. Lawsuits show that you are serious about pursuing your legal rights. Most car accident cases reach settlements before trial, but your attorney should be ready to battle for you in court if needed, to get the best possible outcome.

Put Your Case in the Hands of a Skilled Car Accident Attorney

Dealing with a denied car accident claim is frustrating and intimidating. But you don’t have to face off against the insurance giants on your own. No matter the reason for the denial, you have legal options to fight for the money you deserve.

The smartest thing you can do is put your case in the hands of a skilled car accident attorney. A good lawyer will investigate your accident, gather evidence to prove the other driver was at fault, document your injuries and losses, and demand maximum compensation from every possible source.

Insurance companies have teams of adjusters and lawyers finding ways not to pay you. To get a fair shot at justice, you need an experienced car accident lawyer doing the same for you. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better your odds of beating a denied claim.

So, if you’ve suffered an injury in a crash and the insurance company has denied your claim, don’t wait any longer. Call a trusted car accident lawyer today for your free consultation and start on the road to recovery.