Have you been injured in an Austin car accident or other similar incident? If so, you might wonder how to recover money for your financial losses and other damages. In Texas, an at-fault driver can be held personally liable for damages caused by a crash. That means dealing with the driver’s insurance company to settle the claim.
Navigating the insurance settlement process can be stressful. You might feel overwhelmed as you try to learn about insurance settlements as you go through the steps of resolving your personal injury claim.
If you work directly with an insurance company to settle your claim, it is crucial that you know what to expect. Otherwise, you might not receive a fair amount for your injury claim. Here, we explain the insurance claims process and tips for how to proceed.
Texas drivers are required to have minimum amounts of car insurance coverage. Required coverage includes:
Liability insurance coverage compensates you if the other driver caused the crash. However, the insurance company is only liable for damages up to the policy limits.
When you notify the insurance company, avoid making statements that could imply fault or contributory fault. Do not “chat” with the claims representative, investigator, or insurance adjuster. An innocent comment about your dog in the car or a phone call from your child’s school could result in allegations you contributed to the cause of the crash because of distractions.
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Injured victims have the burden of proving that the other driver caused the crash and that the accident caused their injuries. Therefore, you need to gather information and evidence to build a case against the other driver.
Obtain a copy of the police report, get statements from eyewitnesses, review photographs and videos of the accident scene, and obtain copies of your medical records. You need as much information as possible to prepare your demand letter for the insurance company.
A demand letter outlines the facts of the case and makes an offer for settlement. Your demand letter should include a summary of the facts. Be careful not to include statements that could be misconstrued as accepting partial blame for causing the accident.
The demand letter also includes a description of your damages. Damages include:
You need to include evidence to support your claim, such as the accident report filed by the police officer, witness statements, medical records, pay stubs, letters from your employer, photographs of your injuries, and evidence from the accident scene. You need to write a narrative that explains the extent of your injuries and damages.
You do not want to settle your personal injury case until you complete medical treatment and your doctor advises you of any permanent impairments caused by the car accident. You do not know the extent of your injuries until you complete your medical treatment, which means you cannot know how much your case is worth.
The insurance company must conclude its investigation into the cause of the car accident. Once it does, an adjuster or claims officer reviews your settlement demand letter. The company can take one of several actions:
Generally, attorneys ask for a higher settlement amount than they would be willing to advise their client to accept. The attorney knows the insurance company will likely make a counteroffer, so they want to have room to negotiate.
The insurance company will likely try to justify their counteroffer by stating you overestimated your damages or did not provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the evidence. At this point, you might want to consider talking with an Austin personal injury lawyer before moving forward – assuming you haven’t already done so. Generally, it’s best to consult with an attorney as early on in the process as possible.
Review the insurance company’s counteroffer. You should know how much your damages are worth because you calculated the value when you prepared your settlement offer. It is important to decide on a settlement amount that you are willing to accept so you do not go below that number.
If the insurance company’s counteroffer is fair, you might want to accept it and settle the claim. However, you can also negotiate for a higher amount. If you propose a counteroffer, you must make a compelling argument about why you are entitled to the higher amount.
Address each reason the insurance company provided for offering a lower settlement amount. Explain why the argument is invalid and make a counter-argument supporting your assertion for a higher settlement amount.
You might engage in settlement negotiations for several weeks or months. At some point, the insurance company will make a final settlement offer. Things to consider when you review the final settlement offer:
Knowing whether to accept an insurance settlement offer is difficult unless you understand personal injury laws, damages, and insurance settlements. For that reason, talking with a lawyer might be in your best interest. Our Austin personal injury attorneys can tell you whether a settlement offer is fair.
It is also wise to seek legal advice because you do not want to give up your rights unless you understand your legal options. When you settle an insurance claim, you sign a waiver and release. You give up your right to pursue any legal claims against any party.
In other words, once you sign the settlement agreement, you cannot demand more money for your claim, even if you discover additional damages. Allowing a personal injury lawyer to help you with the insurance settlement process can help you avoid making a costly mistake.
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At FVF Law, we are here to help you recover compensation after an accident. Before you settle a personal injury claim with an insurance company, call us at (512) 982-9328 to request a free case evaluation with an experienced Austin personal injury attorney. It is in your best interest to have an attorney review the settlement offer to ensure the insurance company pays a fair amount for your claim.
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