If you are ever involved in a car accident in Texas, you will need to deal with one or more auto insurance companies. You will quickly learn that filing an insurance claim is not a straightforward process and insurance companies will try to protect their bottom line. You can plan on the insurance company trying to delay, minimize, or deny your claim. Having a car insurance lawyer on your side can give you the peace of mind of knowing that you will be treated fairly after a car crash.
Car accident injuries can lead to long-term physical therapy, skyrocketing medical bills, financial losses related to time off from work, and other damages. An experienced car accident attorney in El Paso can examine all of your options and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, PLLC, our car accident lawyers can review various insurance policies to determine how to maximize your compensation. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review.
How Does Auto Insurance Work?
Here is how different types of car insurance policies work in Texas:
Every registered driver in Texas is required to maintain liability insurance. This insurance covers the injuries and property damage caused by the insured’s negligence, including medical bills, car repairs or replacement, and other accident-related expenses.
In Texas, drivers must maintain the following amounts of liability coverage:
- $30,000 for injury to one person
- $60,000 for injury to two or more people
- $25,000 for property damage
Personal Injury Protection
Personal injury protection (PIP) covers accident-related expenses, regardless of who is at fault. Texas requires auto insurers to offer a minimum of $2,500 in coverage for their insured. However, you can choose to purchase additional PIP coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) pays for your accident-related expenses if the at-fault driver does not have any insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) pays for damages if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover your losses. Insurers must offer UM/UIM insurance in the same amounts as liability insurance, but you can choose to purchase more if you prefer.
Insurance Claim Process for Car Accidents
If you file an insurance claim after being injured in a car accident, you will need to be aware of the insurance claim process for car accidents. This process generally consists of the following steps:
- You contact the insurance company and report the accident.
- A claims adjuster is assigned to the case.
- The insurance adjuster requests a copy of the police report, reviews the insurance policy for coverage, and analyzes other information pertinent to the claim.
- The adjuster makes a determination regarding liability (if applicable).
- The insurance adjuster calculates the amount of damages involved in the accident, including the cost of repairs and medical bills.
- The adjuster formally accepts or denies the insurance claim.
- If the adjuster accepts the claim, it makes a settlement offer.
- You accept the offer or make a counter-offer for more compensation.
The insurance company and you may continue negotiations until you ultimately reach a settlement or decide to pursue your claim in court.
Will Your Insurance Company Protect You After an Accident?
You regularly pay your auto insurance premium without question. Then, when you get in an accident, you expect your auto insurance provider to step up and protect you. However, that doesn’t always happen, whether you’re dealing with your own car insurance company or the one that covers a driver who caused your accident.
Insurance companies are multibillion-dollar, for-profit companies that make money by routinely taking in more in premiums and then minimizing the value of claims against them.
Insurance companies frequently contact accident victims shortly after a crash when victims are injured and still in shock to try to get them to accept a fast settlement. The settlement offer is usually well below the fair value of your claim. Worse, they may use anything you say in a recorded statement against you in an effort to minimize or deny your claim.
Another common tactic insurance adjusters employ is delaying your claim unnecessarily so that you become desperate and accept any settlement offer they make or give up altogether.
Ultimately, the insurance company is only concerned with protecting its own interests, not yours.
Should You Talk to the Insurance Company About the Claim?
Insurance company adjusters or representatives may contact you after you file a claim and try to pressure you into accepting a quick settlement. The adjuster may even sound friendly and on your side. Don’t be fooled. The insurance companies and their representatives are in the business of making profits. They do this by keeping payouts to policyholders to a minimum.
It’s a good idea to speak to an experienced attorney before speaking to an insurance company adjuster. Your statement to the adjuster may be recorded and considered your final statement, which can severely limit the amount of compensation you may receive.
If an adjuster wants to speak with you, politely decline making a statement and give him or her your attorney’s phone number. Let our tough-minded personal injury lawyers handle the adjusters for you so you can focus on your recovery and your family.
If you do speak with an insurance adjuster, keep the following guidelines in mind:
What to Say
Here are some things you can say to the claims adjuster:
- You can speak to my lawyer – You are under no obligation to talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, so you can freely refer them to your lawyer so you can focus on your recovery.
- Facts – You may be required to “cooperate” with your own insurer or you can risk your claim being denied. If you must speak to the insurer, stick to factual statements, such as the time and location of the accident.
- I’m under treatment – Even if the claims adjuster asks about your injuries, do not feel that you have to report on the nature or full extent of your injuries. You might not even know this information yourself! Instead, explain that you are under medical care and continuing to receive treatment.
What NOT to Say
Here are a few things NOT to say to the insurance company:
- I’m fine – Even if you’re trying to be polite, saying this may give the insurance company grounds to claim you are not as injured as you stated.
- You have my permission – Insurance companies often request you give them consent to get your medical records by signing a medical release form, but they usually do this to try to find a pre-existing injury or other reason to deny your claim. It is better to let your lawyer gather your medical records and submit only the information that is truly necessary to process your claim.
- I accept – Do not accept any settlement offer before an attorney for auto insurance claims reviews the offer and makes sure it fairly compensates you for your damages.
How an El Paso Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
At the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, PLLC, we strongly believe it is in your best interest to have an experienced car accident lawyer take care of your insurance claim instead of attempting to handle it on your own. A lawyer can:
- Explain your legal rights and options
- Investigate your accident and the factors that contributed to it
- Determine the full extent of your injuries and accident-related losses
- Review all applicable insurance policies and coverage
- Explain how to file an insurance claim against other drivers who contributed to the crash
- Determine whether suing an insurance company after a car accident is a viable option if they have not fulfilled their contractual duties or are acting in bad faith
- Assist with all aspects of car accident litigation, including the discovery process
- Fight for the best outcome possible inside and outside the courtroom
Contact an El Paso Car Accident Attorney for Help with Your Car Accident Claim
At the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, PLLC, we’re familiar with the way adjusters and insurance company representatives operate. Don’t let them decide your future if you or a loved one was injured in an El Paso car accident. Contact us online or call 915-975-5499 for a free consultation.