What You Need to Know About Insurance Companies and Settlements
If you’ve been involved in a car accident that resulted in an injury, you may need the assistance of an auto accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD provides. The process of collecting damages from an insurance company after an accident can be frustrating at best. The personal injury attorneys at Cohen & Cohen have dealt with insurance companies for two decades and won millions of dollars for our clients. Call us at 301-250-1957 to make an appointment for a free initial consultation and find out how our legal team may be able help you.
If this is the first time you’ve ever had to file an accident claim, you may not be familiar with how most insurance companies settle claims, and the process of how they calculate settlement amounts. If you’ve received a settlement offer from the at-fault insurance company and the amount seems low, it probably is. One of the benefits of hiring a Hillcrest Heights MD auto accident lawyer is that he or she can deal with the insurance company on your behalf and may negotiate a higher settlement.
When calculating offers for settlements, insurance companies consider several factors:
- Vehicle damage
- Pain and suffering
- Insurance policy limits
Whether or not you’ve already filed a claim, the following information may be of value to you in understanding how insurance companies determine settlement offers. The following costs may apply to your auto accident claim:
The at-fault insurance company’s adjuster will likely consider the cost of repairing the damage to your vehicle sustained in the auto accident. They will not likely consider any damage unrelated to the accident. The settlement amount may be the approximate cost of repairing or replacing the damaged parts, including labor.
If the cost of labor and repairs or replacement exceeds the value of your vehicle, your vehicle could be written off as a total loss, and you may be paid to replace it. However, the amount offered for replacement will likely be for the vehicle’s depreciated value, and not for the cost of a new vehicle. As a result, the offer may not be enough to actually replace the vehicle. If your personal injury claim includes damages for your vehicle, an auto accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD offers may be able to negotiate a higher settlement that will help you to replace your vehicle if it was totalled in the accident.
Depending on the severity of your injury or injuries from the accident, damages can be substantial. Costs may include:
- Emergency medical treatment and ambulance transportation
- Hospital stay
- Medical tests, exams, x-rays, CT scan, etc.
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Lost wages
- Specialized medical equipment
- Follow-up visits to doctors
If damages from your personal injury exceed the insurance company policy limits, you may have to take the negligent driver to court and sue for the amount not covered by the insurance company. In that scenario, an auto accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD drivers recommend may pursue litigation on your behalf. He or she may determine that pursuing other avenues for damage compensation is the best strategy. Cohen & Cohen attorneys have represented thousands of personal injury victims and have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts.
Pain and Suffering
This category of damages is intended to compensate victims for physical and emotional discomfort attributed to the accident, and may consider future pain and suffering. When the victim is not expected to fully heal, the insurance claim could include compensation to offset the pain and suffering that results. The amount could be dictated in part by the number of years the person is expected to live and the severity of the pain and suffering. For instance, scarring from the injury will probably never disappear, but it may not be physically painful. If the scarring is extensive or in a noticeable area such as the face, it may cause emotional damage which could be included in the claim.
If the injury will require additional treatment, surgery, medication, and/or specialized medical equipment in the future, these costs should be considered as well. An auto accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD accident victims hire can determine costs for intangible damages you have suffered or will suffer, as well as tangible costs such as surgery.
Because claims can become complicated when personal injuries are involved, you may wish to consult with an experienced auto accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD clients rate highly before accepting a settlement offer. Once you agree to a settlement, you can’t claim additional damages, even if you hadn’t anticipated them.
Insurance Policy Limits
Policy limits are intended to protect insurance companies by not allowing the insured to collect more than a certain amount on a claim. If your personal injury damages exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits, you may have to seek the balance from another source. Three options may be:
- Sue the at-fault driver – an auto accident lawyer in Hillcrest Heights MD may seize their assets for payment.
- File a claim with your own insurance company for additional compensation if you have underinsured motorist coverage.
- Sue the at-fault driver and file an underinsured motorist claim.
Similar to underinsured motorists, an at-fault driver with no insurance to pay your damages leaves victims with the same options. However, instead of underinsured coverage, uninsured motorist coverage may be used.
Delays Can Be Costly
If the insurance company’s settlement offer is less than fair, an auto accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD residents turn to for legal assistance may be able to negotiate a higher amount. If litigation against the at-fault driver is necessary, your attorney must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. The time limit is not affected by the fact that you may still be in the process of trying to settle your claim. However, an auto accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD personal injury victims recommend may be able to file petitions on your behalf to maintain your legal options.
The law firm of Cohen & Cohen fights hard for the rights of personal injury victims. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case with one of our attorneys. Call us today at Cohen & Cohen to meet with an auto accident lawyer Hillcrest Heights MD is proud to call their own.