You should open a claim with an insurance company before moving to a lawsuit. Ideally, you won’t need to pursue a lawsuit because the insurance company will pay your medical bills, lost wages, etc. If they won’t pay your expenses initially, some negotiations will motivate them to reach a settlement with you in the case.
Learn more about what to expect when filing an injury claim and when an insurance claim becomes a lawsuit.
Steps Involved in an Injury Claim
Once you have had a chance to document the scene and report the accident accordingly, you’ll move through the steps of reporting your injury claim to the insurance company. Before you do, you should speak to an attorney. An attorney will guide you in avoiding common pitfalls victims suffer when reporting their claims that can lead to claim denial. And if you choose to hire an attorney, the attorney can handle filing the claim for you. Do the following immediately after an accident:
- Contact the insurance company to open the claim.
- Avoid any non-essential questions that have nothing to do with the specifics surrounding the incident.
- Never agree to a recorded statement. The insurance company will likely tell you it’s required. Just state that you have a right to refuse to provide this statement.
- Save all bills and documentation related to your expenses and the incident itself.
Negotiating With an Insurance Company
A lawsuit is only necessary if negotiations with the insurance company fail. In fact, civil lawsuits involving insurance companies are rare because they know the added costs of going to court, and they work to prevent that.
Ultimately, an insurance adjuster is focused on cost containment and going to court often doesn’t coincide with that goal.
When working with an attorney, they will help you calculate a fair settlement amount based on your expenses and the severity of your injuries. If you have lifelong ailments or ongoing pain, that might warrant a larger settlement amount or if you’ve suffered an injury that will impact your long-term ability to work, that might also warrant a larger settlement.
Knowing how much to pursue in an insurance claim can be challenging without an expert. Be sure you’ve included all expenses with a clear value, such as medical and prescription bills, lost wages, and property damage. Those are non-negotiables that you should get full compensation for. Then there’s room for negotiation on pain and suffering payments.
Do I Still Need to Present Evidence if I Don’t File a Lawsuit?
Your negotiations will go smoother if you have evidence supporting your claim and documented expenses that you’re requesting reimbursement for. Documented expenses and early medical treatment will make your case convincing and compel the insurance company to settle outside of court.
Waiting too long to seek medical treatment or pursuing an insurance claim without a medical diagnosis or proof of damaged property will lead to claim denial. Avoid claim denial by documenting your losses quickly after the accident.
When a Claim Becomes a Lawsuit
Your insurance claim should only become a lawsuit when the insurance company isn’t willing to pay the amount you deserve or is outright denying your claim. That’s why you need to file a lawsuit to protect your rights and your finances.
There are still opportunities for negotiations even once you file a formal lawsuit so don’t be too worried that it means a drawn-out court proceeding. However, you’ll need to be ready for the court proceeding once you file the lawsuit because it still could happen if the insurance company isn’t willing to budge on its stance.
For guidance throughout the insurance claim and settlement negotiation process, schedule a free consultation with Geoff McDonald & Associates.