If you’ve ever needed repair work on your vehicle after a traffic accident, you may already know how difficult it can be to get an insurance company to cooperate with you.
You’re about to learn how best to deal with an auto insurance company to get the money you need for repair work.
In southwestern Indiana, if you’re injured in an accident and you need to file an injury claim, speak first with an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.
WHY DO YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY TO HANDLE AN INJURY CLAIM?
A considerable amount of compensation may be at stake – not to mention your health and future – if you have been injured by a negligent driver, so you must let an attorney handle an injury claim on your behalf.
But if you’ve only sustained damage to your vehicle, you may find it more expedient to handle the claim on your own. Don’t, however, think that you won’t encounter some obstacles when you negotiate directly with an auto insurance company. If you live in California, a personal injury lawyer in Palm Springs CA may be able to help.
To get the repair money you need from your insurance company, you’ll need a repair estimate that’s acceptable to the company, so you’ll have to know what your policy says about repair estimates.
Reading your auto insurance policy thoroughly, and understanding it, is the first step.
WHAT ARE THE AUTO INSURANCE RULES IN INDIANA?
By law, every driver in the state of Indiana must carry automobile insurance.
Indiana is a “fault” auto insurance state, so when there’s a vehicle collision, the at-fault driver is legally obliged to pay for property damages and – if anyone is injured – for injury damages too.
In some collisions, one motorist is obviously at fault: when a motorist collides with a parked vehicle or with a vehicle that is legally stopped at a stop sign or at a traffic signal, for example.
In most accidents, of course, determining fault is more complicated.
Police reports, eyewitness statements, photographs of the scene and the damages, and medical documents may be reviewed by insurance companies or even by a court to determine which driver was at fault.
WHICH INSURANCE COMPANY SHOULD RECEIVE YOUR DAMAGE CLAIM?
If you sustain damage to your vehicle in a traffic crash in Indiana, and if the other motorist was more than 50 percent at fault, your claim may be filed through your auto insurance company or through the other driver’s.
Does it make a difference? If you file the damage claim through your own company, you’ll probably incur a deductible before you receive any reimbursement.
Either way, after you’ve obtained a repair estimate – or several – you will have to submit an estimate to a claims adjuster. Do it as quickly as possible after the accident.
Submitting your damage claim, of course, is only the first step. The company’s claims adjuster makes a determination regarding fault in the accident and then examines your claim.
WHAT ABOUT OBTAINING REPAIR ESTIMATES?
You must obtain your repair estimate from a certified and reliable mechanic who will provide detailed documentation to the claims adjuster.
Some insurance companies will have you obtain an estimate from a particular garage or body shop that the company routinely works with. If so, that estimate probably will not be disputed.
You are not, however, obligated to have your repairs done by the insurance company’s recommended mechanics or body shop.
Compare several estimates and alternatives. You have the legal right to seek and obtain the best repair work you can.
If it is unclear which driver was at fault for the accident, submit your damage claim through your own auto insurance company.
If you were partly at fault, you may only receive partial compensation for repairs. If fault for the accident is disputed or difficult to establish, an arbitrator or a judge may end up making the determination.
WHAT IF YOUR VEHICLE IS A TOTAL LOSS?
If your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company essentially buys the vehicle from you, but the amount is negotiable – whether you’re negotiating with your own insurance company or with the at-fault driver’s company.
When you are negotiating directly with an insurance company, stick to the facts and the evidence.
An insurance company may begin the negotiations with a very low offer, so be prepared to negotiate. You will need some evidence that the offer you’re rejecting is inadequate.
It’s helpful if you have photos of your vehicle prior to the crash, repair and parts receipts, and estimates by certified mechanics or appraisers.
WHAT’S THE FINAL STEP?
When an agreement is reached, the insurance company takes the vehicle and the title, and you receive a check for the settlement amount.
If property damage to your vehicle was the only damage that you sustained in a traffic collision, go ahead and negotiate directly with the insurance company for the money you need to repair or replace your vehicle.
The overwhelming majority of insurance professionals in Indiana are helpful, ethical, and customer-oriented. They want you to get the settlement amount you need and deserve.
But if an insurance company lies to you, refuses to pay you, or offers you nothing but delays and excuses, discuss the situation with a skilled injury lawyer.
WHAT IF AN INSURANCE COMPANY OPERATES IN BAD FAITH?
When an auto insurance company does business negligently or unethically, you may have a “bad faith” claim against the company. In such cases, let an accident lawyer explain your legal rights, options, and alternatives.
Once again, negotiating on your own for auto repairs or vehicle replacement is fine. Just be prepared, be patient, stand on the facts, and you’ll probably be paid the money you need in a short and reasonable amount of time.
However, if you are injured in a vehicle collision in Indiana, don’t even think about negotiating your own settlement. Focus on getting well, and let a trustworthy attorney handle your injury claim.
IF YOU’VE BEEN INJURED, HOW CAN AN ACCIDENT ATTORNEY HELP?
After you’ve obtained medical attention, consult at once with an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.
Indiana entitles the injured victims of negligence to compensation for their injuries, lost wages, and more. Your attorney can explain how the law applies to your own case and whether you can or should pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
If you need money for auto repairs, it is usually more expedient to handle it on your own, but if you’ve been injured, take no chances, and get an attorney’s help from the very beginning.