Frightening car crashes sometimes seem like an unavoidable fact of life on busy California freeways. In a short span, victims may go from worry over their physical wellbeing to wondering if the at-fault driver will be covering all of the consequences.
In reality, it’s usually the at-fault driver’s insurance company that will cause the most worry for accident victims. If allowed to, insurance adjusters will offer victims nothing or next to nothing while they face an expensive recovery from injury. Fortunately, there are ways to spot an insurance company acting in “bad faith” and call them out.
Help for California Car Accident Victims when Facing Insurance Agents
You might be in your own vehicle or on a motorcycle when a driver’s mistake leaves you with a serious injury. You might be on foot or on a bike when a careless motorist loses control and hits you. These tragic incidents all lead to long, frustrating battles with auto insurers who won’t have your best interests at heart.
A local California car accident attorney fighting for your rights as a victim can go a long way towards ensuring you get fair treatment from the insurance industry. Insurance companies have had decades to perfect their claims process so that they come saving money in nearly every case. Contact us for a free consultation before talking to any insurance representative. We want to make sure you’re informed of everything an insurance agent is hoping you don’t find out.
What Insurance Companies Don’t Tell You After a California Accident
Insurance agents aren’t required by law to inform you of everything available to you after a car accident. In fact, they are happy to keep you in the dark about your rights until they’ve got you to sign off on a “lowball offer.”
You can sign off on a settlement agreement and then find you need much more to pay for your recovery than you thought. However, since you’ve already settled and signed an agreement, you won’t be able to return to the insurance company to ask for more.
There are several other things insurance providers won’t bring up hoping to keep you ignorant of what they should be providing:
- Won’t tell you how much your case is worth – Serious injuries can end up costing patients tens of thousands of dollars for care and the treatments may not end once a settlement is reached. You may need surgeries and physical therapy years down the road. Insurance companies don’t like to bring these potential costs up, but they should always be factored into any settlement or courtroom verdict. Insurance companies would like to pay you for one visit to an emergency room and then be done with you. Don’t let them off the hook that easily.
- Won’t bring up deadlines – Waiting until the statute of limitations on injury claims in California is past will cost you any chance you had at earning compensation. California permits victims up to two years from the date of a collision to file their claim. Accidents caused by city or county employees or Uber and other delivery drivers may have other restrictions that you won’t know about. Don’t expect an insurance adjuster to fill you in.
- Won’t assign an agent to your case — Insurance giants like Geico or Progressive use big networks of phone representatives. You may never talk to the same person twice. These phone reps don’t have a lot of legal know-how, but they are well trained when it comes to stalling injured victims and keeping them confused about the claims process. Having a personal injury lawyer on your side usually means getting a dedicated insurance agent on your case. This should be someone who can give you real answers and up your settlement offer.
- Won’t advise you to get a personal injury lawyer — Insurance companies will often move quickly if they don’t think you have legal representation. They want to get a “lowball offer” in front of you in the hopes you’ll sign it without a legal professional going over it. Once you sign on to let a personal injury attorney handle your case, your role in the claims process gets much easier while the insurance adjusters’ part gets much harder. They’ll probably try to stall while they figure out how to handle you. Your attorney will call them out on these unfair tactics.
Compensation Insurance Companies Don’t Want to Give Up
While battling an insurance company alone, you’ll likely have a difficult time listing every hardship you’ve faced and should receive support for. You might not know about everything that can be included in a claim for damages.
Your personal injury attorney will know what to list to make sure you aren’t left holding the bag once a settlement has already been signed. We’ve talked about the relapse of certain injuries and how the costs of going back for surgery can fall completely to you.
Here are a few other factors that should be included in any claim for damages.
- Lost paychecks at work — You should definitely receive reimbursement for the time missed at work while you heal. But what about any time off the job expected in the future. Signing the first settlement a major insurer sends your way could leave you short in the months ahead as you struggle to pay things like car payments and a mortgage without a steady income.
- Permanent Disability – A devastating injury can force you to miss many days at work and a disability may even force you to train for a new career. An amputation, paralysis, blindness, and brain damage can completely change life for a victim and his or her family. Expensive medical equipment and home renovation can be necessary to give a victim some sense of freedom. That’s not to mention the cost of doctor and surgeon visits. All of this should be accounted for in a claim for damages.
- Mental Anguish — After a violent accident, victims can understandably experience bouts of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The victim getting into a car or behind the wheel again is never a sure bet. The hardship can require counseling and other care to allow a victim to return to a normal life.
- Travel – Patients can have daily medical appointments and perhaps aren’t even able to drive themselves. Victims can also have to travel to another city or out-of-state to see specialists or get second opinions. These expenses should be itemized on a claim for damages. The victim should never have to pay for them.
Avoiding Insurance Pitfalls After An Accident
There are thousands of car insurers in the United States and local drivers and out-of-state drivers could use any of them. If you’re in an accident you’ll likely have to get to know the other driver’s insurance provider well.
Any time you must face off with a driver’s insurance and even your own insurance agent, it’s a good idea to have a personal injury lawyer overseeing every communication. In fact, it’s best if your lawyer handles all of the paperwork and all the phone calls. This should make things much easier on you while you heal.
For more information on some of the most often used car insurance providers in California please click below:
- State Farm
- AAA/Auto Club
- AAA/CSAA Insurance Exchange
- Farmland’s Insurance
When do you use auto insurance v health insurance after an accident?
You can use health insurance to pay for care if you are injured in a car accident. Health insurance will usually provide faster payment. If a car insurer later provides you reimbursement for your care, that money goes to your health insurer.
A car accident injury insurance settlement can take anywhere from a few months to over a year to secure. Victims may have hospital bills come due well before their first settlement check. Victims are usually able to file these bills with their health insurance provider while waiting on a car insurance provider’s decision on their claim.
Keep in mind that victims would still have to pay the deductibles on their health insurance policies. They might also owe money for the care given outside of an approved healthcare network. Some specific treatments might not be covered by their insurer.
Once a settlement is secured, victims would have to pay the health insurance company back for any care they received reimbursement for. If a settlement didn’t fully cover the victim’s recovery costs, it would be another case in which health insurance would be used to pay for the difference.
How does an insurance claim after an accident account for a preexisting condition?
If your preexisting condition was still “active” before your accident, you probably won’t be able to collect compensation for that injury. But, if your preexisting condition is aggravated by an accident, compensation is possible.
A preexisting condition is any health issue you were diagnosed with before an accident. This may include things like an aggravated disc, arthritis, or a previous brain injury. Victims may have a preexisting condition that is still considered “symptomatic” and causing issues. They can also have a preexisting condition that is considered dormant or inactive.
It’s also important to note that the victims of accidents can still receive compensation for injuries suffered in an accident that isn’t associated with the preexisting condition. But sometimes insurance companies like to lump preexisting injuries and new injuries together for their own benefit.
Insurance companies will use any excuse to downplay your injuries and reject your accident claim against their policyholder. When a preexisting injury is present, insurance adjusters can make a blanket judgment and dismiss all of your other injuries too. Don’t accept this.
Explain your situation to a skilled California personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will make sure you receive what’s fair for your new injuries and any advancement of your preexisting condition due to an accident.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Serving Victims in California
After you are injured in a car accident in California, you need to spend your time focusing on your physical recovery. Since you cannot bill the insurance company for time spent building your case, it is in your best interest to let us handle the legal work for you.
Contact attorney Martin Gasparian for a free case evaluation and strategy session. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case and will listen to you. He believes that every client should get clear and direct answers to their questions and be informed of their rights as victims.
- Bad Faith Insurance Practices in California
- What Is Third Party Insurance in California?
- How to File a Car Accident Claim