How Do You Sue an Insurance Company After an Auto Accident?
Have you ever felt that dealing with insurance companies is like repeatedly throwing salt on the wound? After getting hit in an auto accident, the last thing you want is a long drawn out battle with insurance.
Therefore, you want to know the best options to settle your auto accident claim with the insurance company. Below we discuss the steps you need to take to claim the settlement you deserve.
HOW DOES YOUR INSURANCE POLICY WORK?
You want to know how much you can claim for your auto accident. The process starts by reviewing the defendant and your auto policy.
Evaluating both policies with your attorney helps you get a clearer picture of how much you can receive for property and health damages. Reading the policy also lets you know of any laws the defendant broke that might void their coverage.
Every auto insurance policy provides two types of coverage:
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL)
- Property Damage Liability
The BIL include injuries to passengers, bystanders, and yourself. The Property Damage Liability covers the damage to the vehicles and other property.
Every driver carries different coverage amounts. That said, California requires every driver to carry a minimum coverage of 15/30/5.
In layman’s terms that means the insurance company covers up to $15,000 in medical expenses for one person and $30,000 for all parties involved in the accident.
The final number is the $5,000 property damage liability. To put this in perspective, Kelly Blue Book estimates the average cost for a new car is $36,270. That is a massive shortfall if you only have $5,000 in auto coverages.
That is why it is essential to carry underinsurance and uninsurance coverage in your policy. That way if someone with minimum coverage hits you, your insurance company can pick up the rest of the tab.
PREPARE FOR BATTLE WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY
While you might not have any problems with your insurance company, it is best to prepare for the worst with insurance companies.
Many of them use the three “D” claims policy; delay, deny, and defend. The longer they extend your claim payout, the more they increase their profits. Plus, a percentage of plaintiffs give up waiting for the insurance company to pay them.
Therefore, it is in their best interest to make you go through as many hoops as possible before paying you.
If you want to combat that, you need to collect all pertinent records to prove your case. Record everything and share these records with your attorney on a regular schedule, so they can use them for your case. Here are some documents to keep.
#1. Medical records
You need to chronicle your entire medical history relating to your case. Do NOT throw anything out. Organize what you can and share it with your attorney.
#2. Expense report
Save all your receipts and write them down in an expense report that goes over their out-of-pocket expenses. Even small amounts pile up over time. Make sure you include the date, where you spent the item, and what you bought.
Don’t forget to record all your miles and parking, doctors’ appointments, and other crash-related destinations. Also, keep your medical appointment procedures, tests, and any doctor-ordered physical therapy.
You can even include hotel stays and meals you ate because of the appointments.
#3. Activity log
Did you miss any activities because of the accident? If so, keep a diary of missed events like prepaid vacations or scheduled family get-togethers. Anything that has a monetary value can affect the settlement.
#4. Loss record
Did you miss work because of the accident? Even if you had sick or vacation days, you can recover some costs from the work days you missed. Make sure you have a signed letter from your doctor with their letterhead telling you to take time off work.
Tally the number of days you missed, and also let your attorney know if you can no longer perform your job due to the injury.
Also, record any loss of enjoyment from fun activities you cannot do anymore like hiking, biking, etc.
You should also record other self-care activities you cannot perform yourself. If you needed to hire someone to help you with these activities, make sure you record whom you employed, the date they work, and how much you paid them.
Note: If you can perform these activities, but it causes you increased pain document that as well.
HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?
Often in a car accident, you need to sue the other driver. You cannot sue the defendants’ insurance company directly. Instead, the insurance company indemnifies the defendant for some or all damages per their insurance policy guidelines.
The challenge is that often the insurance company looks to find trivial or untrue reasons to deny a claim. This denial of service makes it difficult to claim your settlement.
Once both sides agree to a settlement approved by the judge, the defendant needs to collect the money from the insurance company.
Occasionally, the insurance company acts in “bad faith.” The defendant then has the right to assign a bad faith lawsuit to you, so you can go after the insurance company.
If you have questions about how to do this, please call us at 760-642-5475 for a free consultation.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY DENIES THE CLAIM?
HOW CAN I START MY SUIT AGAINST THE INSURANCE COMPANY FOR MY AUTO ACCIDENT?
If you don’t have the patience and time to deal with insurance companies, let Levinson Law help you. With close to $50 million in recovered monies, we can help you recover financially from your auto accident. Call Levinson Law today at 760-642-5475 for a free consultation.