Auto Accident Frequently Asked Questions
How Will The Other Driver’s Insurance Company Begin The Process?
The adjuster assigned to handle the claim at the insurance company will reach out to you typical by telephone. This is so because they want to try to build some goodwill with you early on so when they ask for a taped interview from you about the accident you will be more likely to say “yes.” Be careful, despite what the adjuster may tell you, and believe me, we have heard it all, the only reason to tape you is so they can use it against you later, if and when you file suit. We always advise our clients to very nicely decline to give a taped interview.
What About The Repairs/Loss Of My Vehicle? Who Pays?
Your property damage claim is usually an area where the insurance company will treat you fairly. The first step in this process is to arrange for the adjuster handling the property damage claim (often a separate adjuster from the one handling your injury claim) to inspect your vehicle. If you are still in possession of your vehicle, the adjuster will want to come out to look at the damage and take photographs at your residence. Be careful here too. If the adjuster comes out, do not speak to him or her about your injury case. Often they will try to get you talking about your injuries while they are looking at the vehicle in hopes something will be said they can use against you later.
If your vehicle is at the tow yard, the adjuster will arrange to view the car their. After your vehicle’s damage or total loss has been appraised by the adjuster, you will receive an offer to repair the vehicle or for the total loss. The easiest property damage claim to handle is the repair of your vehicle. The adjuster will recommend a few authorized repair shops to take your vehicle too. Remember, you do not have use the insurance company’s repair shop. You can use any repair company of your choosing as long as the repair costs are reasonable. In a repair situation, not only do you have a claim for the repair of the vehicle itself but also a claim for the diminished market value of the vehicle. In the world of Car Fax, a vehicle that has been damaged and repaired is going to be worth less in the marketplace than the same vehicle that has never been in an accident. You have a right to the difference between what the vehicle was worth the day of the accident before it was damaged and the value of the vehicle after sustaining the damage and being repaired.
If your car is a total loss, the insurance company will make you an offer for the value of the vehicle at the time of the accident. This is where negotiations regarding what the vehicle is worth will take place. Typically the first offer by the insurance company is not the best. Often, clients are told that the insurance company does not go by Kelly Blue Book or other car value websites. We always recommend that the client at least get three estimates from car value websites like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.com and if necessary an expert appraiser.
What If The Cause Of The Accident Is Disputed?
In Georgia you must prove fault on the part of the other driver. If the other driver and the insurance company are denying liability (not a fault for the accident) and thus your injury claim, it is time to speak to a lawyer. Remember, simply because the investigating police officer did not issue a citation to the other driver does not mean that the other driver is not at fault. In fact, we have had several injury cases where the client was wrongly given a citation for the accident by the investigating officer and have successfully fought to get the citation dismissed and the client’s injury case resolved against the other driver.
How Will Your Personal Injury Claim Be Evaluated By The Adjuster?
The insurance company’s adjuster will typically offer you a small settlement for your injury claim right away hoping that you will take it immediately before the full extent of your injuries are known. There is no rush. It is not normally wise to take an offer made by the adjuster within days of the accident. In Georgia, you have two years from the date of the accident to file suit. Often it is wise to wait to see how your injuries and treatment progress before considering a settlement of your injury claim. We recommend speaking to an attorney before accepting any offer from the insurance company.
What Happens If The Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance?
If you have Uninsured Motorist coverage you will be covered through your auto insurance. This is coverage provided by your insurance which is separate from what your policy provides for property damage. Uninsured motorist coverage can be tricky. If you are facing an uninsured or underinsured at-fault driver, it is best to speak to a lawyer before proceeding forward with your claim.
What Happens If My Claim Is Worth More Than The Coverage Afforded By The At-Fault Driver?
This is the second scenario under which your Uninsured Motorist (also call Underinsured Motorist) coverage kicks in. This is the same coverage discussed above. However, in this scenario where the at-fault driver has coverage just not enough, different rules apply. Coverage for underinsured motorist depends on a careful evaluation of your policy and the at-fault driver’s policy. Again, if you think you are or will be in a situation where the at-fault driver’s coverage is not enough to cover your damages, it is best to speak to a lawyer before settling your claim.
How Will Medical Expenses Be Paid?
The insurance company for the at-fault driver will not pay your bills as they are incurred. There is no obligation to do so. Instead, the insurance company will pay you a lump sum amount, if at all, to settle your entire claim. This leaves you responsible for your medical bills initially. Unfortunately, Georgia law does not allow your lawyer to pay your medical bills for you. Therefore, it is important that you find other payment sources to help pay your bills. Hopefully you have great health insurance. If not, the at-fault driver may have medical payments coverage under his or her automobile insurance policy that will cover some or all of your bills. If all else fails, your lawyer should have connections to various benefits providers that will contract with you to pay your medical bills in exchange for a promise that you will pay them back out of your settlement or verdict.
Act Quickly To Protect Your Rights If You Or A Loved One Has Been In An Auto Accident.
Delay in obtaining legal representation is not recommended. Your claim needs to be promptly investigated and your injuries properly established as soon as possible. Delay can hamper an investigation into what caused the accident or the extent of your injuries. The insurance companies love to see that you are handling your injury claim without legal help and will try to take advantage of that situation. Contact us by emailing our firm or Call (770) 887-3162 as soon as possible.