Florida is a tourist state with a thriving tourism industry worth over $40 billion. Those are hundreds of thousands of cars running through the Florida Turnpike, Florida 408, the Apopka Expressway, and other major roads on their way to top tourist destinations. Car crashes are, therefore, a daily occurrence.
The Interstate 4 (I-4), running from Tampa through Orlando to Daytona, is especially notorious for car accidents that lead to countless injuries and fatalities. Car crash victims should seek compensation from the defendant’s insurers or their own if they hail from Florida. However, navigating the complex process of insurance claims can be challenging. In such situations, it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can provide guidance and represent your interests effectively.
We consulted a reputed Orlando car accident attorney to draft this beginner’s guide. Combining their experience and our research, here is a guide to comprehending car crash settlement claims.
Filing a Claim With the Insurers
Contact the insurers as soon as possible after your accident informing them of the incident and that you intend to seek compensation for the damages. How soon you do it depends on your terms of agreement with the insurance company or your state’s statute of limitations. You can submit the claim personally, although some companies now accept mail, phone, or online personal injury claims.
Ensure the claim lists the injuries suffered and property lost or damaged during the car crash. The insurance adjuster sends a Reservation of Rights letter confirming the reception of the claim after filing. The ROR also clarifies that the insurance company isn’t liable since no investigations have been carried out. All you can do now is wait.
Once you file your claim, the insurance company will thoroughly investigate the claim’s authenticity. They would be shooting themselves in the foot and risking bankruptcy if they accepted claims blindly. This investigation is similar to how your lawyer collects evidence for you before filing a compensation claim.
Another purpose of the investigation is to establish weak spots in your evidence that they can exploit to undervalue or deny your claim. Be very cautious during this period because they can even trick you into accepting liability on record which can negatively affect your claim. Let your Orlando car accident attorney handle or communicate with the adjusters.
Claim Denial or Approval
The insurance company will deny or approve your claim once they finish their in-house investigation. They will give you the first quote if approved, often much lower than whatever you seek as sufficient compensation for your injuries and property loss. Only accept it once you first consult a car accident attorney who can accurately calculate the actual value of your damages.
The insurers may also deny the claim for several reasons. These include a breach of contract, following the wrong procedure, or your policy doesn’t cover such accidents.
If you are dissatisfied with the lowball offer from the insurance company or if they deny your claim, your lawyer can help draft a demand letter. The letter will reiterate your injuries and quote a higher monetary amount which should be fair compensation for your injuries, property destruction, and emotional suffering. The purpose of the demand letter is to intimidate the insurers into settling the claim your way.
The demand letter also informs the defendants and the insurers of your intention to sue if your conditions regarding the settlement are not met. It is served personally to the defendants, or your attorney can do so they won’t miss it. At this point, they may agree to participate in negotiations, which are cheaper and take less time than lawsuits.
Negotiations and Settlement
Almost all personal injury settlement claims never step foot in court. The warring parties often choose alternative means of dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation, to keep matters out of court. Once both parties come up with an amicable solution, you should get your cheque within a few weeks to a few months.
One of the parties can file an appeal if dissatisfied with the judgment, further prolonging the legal battle.
Car accidents can be traumatic experiences leaving behind physical, emotional, and financial burden. Working with a reputed car crash attorney can increase your chances of a successful car crash settlement claim and secure the compensation you deserve.