In Texas, all drivers are required to have auto insurance. As a result, insurance pays for the damages in most accidents. While this system provides injured people with a relatively reliable way of getting a payout, the insurance companies don’t always agree to provide an adequate amount of money. If you feel that an insurance company is undervaluing your claim, it’s time to speak with a car wreck lawyer in Houston, TX.
My Insurance Is Paying Less Than I Need: What Can I Do About It?
You have submitted a claim to your insurance company in accordance with your policy, expecting to receive a payout that is proportionate to your losses. That’s what insurance is for, right? To your surprise, the insurance company sends you a settlement offer for an amount of money that is less than you anticipated. Maybe the payout won’t even cover your medical expenses.
If you are dealing with the situation described above, you are not alone. Many insurance companies routinely try to undervalue the claims they receive as a means of maximizing their profits. Fortunately, you do not have to accept the first offer you receive. Here are some tips that could help you increase your compensation:
1. Do Not Sign the Settlement Until You Are Sure the Amount Is Sufficient
When an insurance company offers you a settlement, you must relinquish your right to take the company to court in order to accept the offer. As soon as you sign the documents pertaining to the settlement, you no longer have any bargaining power with which to negotiate for more money.
Many insurance companies will try to pressure you into accepting a low offer before you have had the chance to speak with an attorney. Be sure to take your time and wait until you can get legal advice on whether or not you should push for more money. Once you accept an offer, your acceptance is final, and the matter is closed.
2. Work With a Car Wreck Lawyer
Personal injury lawyers specializing in car accidents have ample experience dealing with insurance companies. Your lawyer can help you review your policy to understand how much money you are actually entitled to. In order to put pressure on the insurance company, your lawyer will gather evidence to support your claim. When negotiating on your behalf, he or she will reference the personal injury laws that apply to your case.
3. Request Your Medical Records
One technique insurance companies often use is to argue that a pre-existing condition caused your injuries. They might also claim that you overstated the seriousness of your injuries and that some of your treatments were not necessary. To disprove these statements, you will need to provide medical records showing that the amount of money you are requesting will go towards treating legitimate injuries that were directly related to the accident.
Even if you did have a pre-existing condition at the time of the accident, you may be able to show that the accident-related injuries were separate or that your condition worsened as a result of the crash. Any notes from your visit to the ER, X-ray images, and test results can help you demonstrate that the treatments you received after the accident were needed.
4. Prepare Your Statements
Whenever possible, you should let your lawyer communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. Any statements that you make when you speak with them directly can be twisted into evidence against you. For example, a representative of the insurance company may try to get you to say that you were not wearing prescription eyewear at the time of the crash or that you did not really feel injured after the accident happened.
If you are going through your own insurance to get compensation, you might be contractually required to give the insurance company a recorded statement without your lawyer. If, after reviewing the terms of your policy, you and your lawyer determine that you do need to undergo an interview, your lawyer can help you plan your statements in advance by telling you what kinds of questions you are likely to receive. In general, it is best to keep your answers simple and straightforward.
Other Sources of Compensation
By taking care to avoid statements that could devalue your claim and entering the negotiations with a skilled attorney on your side, you stand a good chance of dramatically increasing the size of your payout. If your insurance company’s final offer is still not enough to cover the damages, you can consider taking them to court. You and your lawyer can also investigate the possibility of supplementing your settlement with compensation from other sources, such as:
Another Driver’s Insurance
Were there multiple vehicles involved in the accident? Were any of the other drivers partially to blame? If you have grounds to hold any of them accountable, you may be able to file a claim against their insurance or sue them directly.
The Car Manufacturer
Suppose the accident was related to a faulty car part, an issue with the vehicle’s safety features, or a design flaw that warranted a recall: in these cases, you may be able to sue the manufacturer. Your case would proceed according to product liability laws, which make up a separate category of personal injury law. In some situations, a vendor that supplied the car manufacturer with certain components or a company that was responsible for transporting the vehicle could be liable.
Your Health Insurance
Many people carry health insurance policies that will pay for medical treatments after a car accident. While you cannot go through your health insurance to recover damages like lost wages or pain and suffering, you may be able to avoid paying for your medical expenses out of pocket.
What Should Your Settlement Cover?
Your settlement should include enough money to cover all of the damages to which you are legally entitled. Making sure clients are aware of all the losses that warrant compensation is one of the services that personal injury attorneys provide. After you see all of your damages tallied up, you might be surprised at the amount of money you can demand.
Many insurance companies offer settlements that are too low because they assume that their claimants are not familiar with their rights. If you are going through your own insurance, they must cover the types of damages that are listed in your policy. Personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured driver coverage should pay for accident-related expenses when you cannot seek compensation from another driver. In an accident involving multiple vehicles, you can go through the at-fault driver’s insurance to claim:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Reduced earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
We Offer Legal Support With Personal Injury Claims in Houston, TX
If you suspect that your insurance company isn’t going to pay you the full amount you deserve, a car wreck lawyer in Houston, TX can strengthen your case. While representatives from the insurance company may speak politely on the phone, you cannot expect them to act in your best interests. We will investigate the accident to get a clear understanding of your damages, and we will help you fight for compensation. To schedule a consultation, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.