People involved in car accidents often have good reason to find a personal injury lawyer. But conversations with insurance companies may happen before you have the opportunity to talk with a local personal injury lawyer. Because the process may begin before you’re completely ready, it’s helpful to know how insurance companies handle personal injury claims. Your preparation is important so that you receive the compensation due you for your injuries.
I’m a local Bakersfield personal injury lawyer, and I talk with a lot of people about car accidents. I recommend that even if it seems like a small case, hiring an attorney makes the process easier. Most importantly, don’t let an insurance company talk you into settling a case too early. Injuries may not show up right away, or they may progress over time. You need to report the accident, but you have up to two years to file a claim, so there’s no rush to settle.
Here is how an insurance company will look at your personal injury claim:
- Who’s at fault?
To have a case, you must prove that the other driver was negligent. Such fault is usually validated by a witness at the scene, but not always. Also, California is a comparative fault state. What that means is that the liability for an accident can be shared by both the victim and the person who caused the accident. So, even if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, you may still have a legitimate personal injury claim against the negligent party. Comparative fault may have an effect on the final insurance settlement amount.
- Are the medical costs reasonable and necessary?
It’s important to tell the doctor(s) treating you that you were in a car accident. All medical visits must document the connection between the accident and the treatment. An insurance company will make a determination of the amount that they feel is reasonable and necessary for the personal injury claim. This may be a point for negotiation, making it important to find a personal injury lawyer to give you advice based on experience.
- Are there multiple claims for the same accident?
If your accident involved multiple cars against an at-fault driver’s insurance policy, there may be a situation of limited resources available on the policy. To be sufficiently compensated for medical expenses and pain and suffering you (or your personal injury lawyer) must prove why your injuries take precedence for payment.
A local personal injury attorney knows what you can expect from your type of case in the Bakersfield area. Make sure that you find a personal injury attorney that you feel is a good match, one that will represent you and your situation to deliver the best settlement.