If you get into an accident in California, what should do? Well, the first few steps seem easy: Move your car or any other vehicle by the side of the road, check that everyone is fit and fine, call 911, take few photographs of the vehicles, exchange information with other party and then call your insurance company. But what would you do if your insurance provider calls you?
Dealing with your insurance company
Usually the first person from the insurance company who will call you is claims adjuster. This one works for your company and can be an “independent” adjuster (hired by the company) or “staff adjuster” who is employed by your company. They’re going to ask you series of questions. Some of these are………..
* Place where is your car located?
* What happened in the accident?
* Is your car damaged?
* Was anyone hurt?
They want to know the exact location of your car to make sure it’s not accruing any storage charges from the tow shop. If it’s, they’ll immediately ask you to call the tow shop and authorize the car to be released. Most companies will then move your car to one of your preferred body shops. If your car is in any of the tow yard, you should make arrangements to release it to your insurance provider. Allow them to move it. This is definitely not a battle to fight!
Then they would want to know if your car was damaged, and generally the area where the damage was located. There’s no need to speak in auto terms-just tell them “passenger side”, “driver side”, “back”, “front”, etc. If your car is seriously damaged, let them know. If the damage to vehicle is minor, let them know that as well.
When they as you about the accident, they may insist on a recorded statement. You’re not obliged to record your statement. As per your policy, you’re required to cooperate with your insurer but there’s nothing in the policy that compels you to give a recorded statement. Answer all their questions but avoid recorded statement at this time. Tell them all that you know, and if you’re still under stress, ask them that you want one or two days to settle down. Then talk to them.
You should also tell your insurer about all those who’ve been injured. You might have med pay (medial payments) coverage that would pay for all your bills for injuries that you’ve incurred. Your insurance company would also want to know if any other person was hurt. You should tell them all that you know, and if you’re not sure, tell them that as well.
Repairing Your Car
Usually insurance company would recommend one of its preferred shops. They have arrangements with some shops that will undertake some of the repair work and also photograph your car for the insurance company. You’re not required to go to any of these shops. You can choose any shop you like. There are some very good shops that are recommended by insurance companies. There are some bad shops as well and have a talk with your Los Angeles personal injury attorney to discuss your options. You should never go to any shop unless you get a firm recommendation from a family member or fried. Once you finalize the place where your car will be fixed, you must tell insurance adjuster and company to reach an agreed price with the shop. This is the price that insurance company agrees to pay, and repair shop agrees to accept. You won’t have to pay anything from your pocket other than your deductible.
The parts your vehicle was manufactured with are known as OEM (original equipment from manufacturer). So the insurance company will write your estimate based on the aftermarket pricing, sometimes referred to as non-OEM or crash parts. There’s still a debate on the reliability of this type of equipment. If you’ve chosen a body that agrees to use non-OEM parts, that’s fine, but if they recommend OEM parts, or you own a high-end vehicle, then you should ask your insurer to cover the cost of repairs with only OEM parts. Support for your contention is based on basic principles that insurance company has the duty to put you back in the same position you were before the accident.
The insurance company might also want you to put in some used parts that can be bought from any auto recycler that uses parts from other damaged cars. These are usually OEM parts and can be a good replacement if your car is damaged. If you’ve a choice between non-OEM parts and good condition used parts, choose the latter.
You’re also entitled to a rental vehicle. You policy can pay a maximum permissible amount, usually $20-$27 per day for rental vehicle. You will be responsible for all extra charges. So call around to find the best deal on rental cars. There’s no need to go with insurer’s recommended rental car service.
Resolving Your Injury Claim
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you’re entitle to recover reasonable value of all your medical bills and sufferings, including lost wages. Despite al the information available online, there is no set formula to calculate this amount. So each case has its own value and determining your case wroth takes some experience, and you probably would wan to consult a car accident attorney.
You have a limited time to file your claim or settle your case. The adjuster would never extend this time limit for you-even they agree to do so. You must file a lawsuit, or settle, period.
Some adjusters might insist their software gives them a certain value. Never listen to them. This software cannot figure out your case worth. It can determine just one value based on the input. Therefore, you should never accept this amount.
Other adjusters might try to “drop draft” you. In this, they would send you a check for around $500, and a release. They might ask you to sign it. Never accept this as they cannot drop draft for the full value of your case. They can do so only when they’re trying to settle your case for less than its worth. If you receive such a check by mail, you need a legal representation from a good car accident attorney.
What If You’re Injured?
Some car accidents can be serious than just a “fender bender” and you might sustain injuries. In such cases, the legal issues can become much more complicated. Besides damages listed above, you may also be entitled to lost wages and reimbursement of some medical expenses. You can also claim compensation for suffering stemming, mental and physical pain from the accident by hiring a car accident attorney.
When you’re in a car accident, your insurance adjuster might try to force you to settle for a smaller amount than you deserve. While these tips won’t cover all circumstances, they surely give you an idea on how this system works. That alone will help you with your claim!
Even if you feel you can negotiate for the property damage to your car or any other vehicle, it’s strongly recommended to seek advice from an experienced car accident attorney in California if you’ve been injured in a car accident. This is mainly because of the unique circumstances presented by your bodily injuries and medical expenses.