Auto insurance is used to help owners of motor vehicles protect themselves, whether they cause an accident or are the victim of an accident. After an accident and when it is safe to do so, the owners or drivers of each vehicle must share their auto insurance information. Next, the parties inform their respective auto insurers of the accident.
In straightforward cases where there's property damage but minimal (if any) bodily harm, a settlement offer is made and accepted. If anyone suffers any bodily injury at all, though, it's important to keep in mind that once you accept a settlement offer and receive the payout, you cannot return to the auto insurance company with an update on your recovery and request further compensation. Speaking to a personal injury attorney in California will help you better understand your options. Call The Geller Firm today at 415-840-0570 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and to make sure you know all your legal options so you can make an informed decision.
How Car Insurance Works in California
At a fundamental level, car insurance is an agreement between a for-profit insurance company and the policyholder(s). Policyholders may be an individual, a group of individuals of a particular class (e.g., a family), occupants of a vehicle, or a company.
When an insurance policy is taken out, the policyholder makes regular payments, known as premiums, to the insurer. Essentially, in return, the insurance company agrees to cover the costs of damages associated with an accident, but only agrees to pay in accordance with limits established by the insurance policy.
An insurance policy can include first-party insurance, which covers property damage or bodily injury suffered by the person(s) named on the policy. It also includes third-party insurance, which is insurance purchased by a person or company to protect them against liability for property damage or bodily harm they (or someone on their behalf) cause.
Insurance Adjusters and the Claims Process
If you are in an accident, one of the first steps you take after the accident is to contact your insurance company. The company will send an insurance adjuster to investigate the claim, decide whether it has merit, and determine how much to pay.
What many drivers do not understand about the claims process is that the insurance company is a for-profit entity that has a vested interest in keeping its costs low. One of their largest expenses is settlement payouts. By underpaying or avoiding claims, insurance companies increase their profits.
It's irrelevant whether you file a first-party or third-party claim because the insurance company prioritizes profits. Even if you are their customer, your needs are secondary to the company's mission.
Many insurance companies also employ and train claims adjusters and attorneys to be aggressive. It is not uncommon for them to use manipulation or intimidation to reduce or avoid a settlement.
The Alternative to a Settlement Offer: A Personal Injury Claim in Contra Costa County
Drivers who have filed a claim with their insurance provider will likely get a settlement offer by the insurance company. This settlement offer may be far less than what the injured party needs to recover in order to be made whole or the closest thing to it. The terms of the offer, however, are designed to make it seem like the driver is actually getting a good deal.
Many injured parties take the settlement offer because they are desperate and need the money immediately. Many of them only realize months later how little they received in light of the true extent and nature of their injuries.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, you do not have to accept the settlement offer. You can hire a lawyer and, if in your best interests, you can file a personal injury claim. Through a personal injury claim in civil court, you have more flexibility, and your attorney has more tools they can use to negotiate a settlement in your favor or opt to go to trial to get you the best possible settlement.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney in California Today
At The Geller Firm, we know you are dealing with a lot right now. Auto accidents, even when the property damage and bodily injury are not severe, takes a toll on a person. It is a hassle to deal with insurance companies, especially when the auto insurance adjusters are intimidating. Our auto accident lawyer will do all the work for you, so you can worry about your recovery and not worry about if you are going to get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today at 415-840-0570 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.