After an accident, one of the first steps to take is contacting the insurance company to file a claim. This may be especially important when accidents result in serious injuries and mounting medical bills. Despite the comforting slogans many insurers use in their advertising, insurance companies are like any California businesses whose goal is to protect their own bottom lines. Dealing with insurance companies throughout the accident investigation process can be stressful and frustrating.
The insurance company will assign an adjuster to a case as soon as it receives a claim. Typically, the adjuster will ask for documentation that is relevant to the claim, including police reports, photos, witness information and medical reports. The adjuster may be friendly and sympathetic, but it is wise for the claimant to avoid revealing too much that may jeopardize the claim. For example, allowing an insurance adjuster open access to medical records may lead to a denial of benefits because of a preexisting injury.
The more serious the claimant’s injuries, the more resistant the insurer may be to pay the claim. Once the adjuster has examined the information, he or she may offer a quick settlement. It is wise for accident victims not to accept hasty offers, especially if they are not certain of the extent of their injuries or the long-term care they may need. Negotiating for a better settlement may be necessary, and in some cases the victim may resort to legal action to obtain a fair amount from the insurer.
Dealing with insurance companies is something most people dread because they may not understand how the claims process works. However, personal injury attorneys interact with insurance adjusters regularly. In fact, the more an accident victim has at stake, the more he or she may benefit from the skill and determination of an experienced attorney.