Dealing With Insurance Companies
This is true whether benefits are paid through the state’s no-fault system or whether damages are more severe and must be resolved by filing for additional compensation. A case may ultimately end up in court, but that’s only if negotiations are unsuccessful.
Boston motor vehicle accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman recognize the importance in some cases of reaching out early to engage the insurance company. We employ decades of experience and skill in negotiating an advantageous settlement for our clients.
Massachusetts law requires every driver to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. There are many different types of coverage, but the four types that are required by law include:
- Bodily injury to others (minimum $20,000 per person, $40,000 per crash)
- Personal injury protection (PIP) (minimum $8,000 per person/crash)
- Bodily injury caused by an uninsured auto (minimum $20,000 per person, $40,000 per crash)
- Damage to someone else’s property (minimum $5,000 per crash)
Considering the high costs that result from major accidents, many people opt for additional coverage beyond these amounts.
Following an accident, those injured usually first file a claim with their own insurance company and then, if necessary, with the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
First-Party Claims vs. Third-Party Claims
A car insurance policy is a contract between the insurer and driver/vehicle owner. Premiums are paid to the company in exchange for coverage of certain losses or expenses in the event of an accident.
A first-party claim is a claim one files with his or her own insurance company, one that arises out of this contract between the insurer and the policy holder. These will generally include coverage for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Property damage
- Underinsured motorist coverage
If an injured person was working at the time of an accident, there may be an additional claim to workers’ compensation insurance, though that will be under a separate policy and through a separate process.
Meanwhile, a third-party claim is one made by the insured person against the insurance policy providing coverage to an at-fault party. This may include coverage for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost Wages
- Funeral expenses
- Property damage
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Insurance companies – whether your own or that of the at-fault driver – have developed wide-reaching policies and procedures that aim to reduce liability. That’s why extracting a fair settlement agreement can often be extremely frustrating, especially if, like most people, you’ve never navigated the claims process.
We recognize that obtaining results for our clients require us to be both prepared and persistent. It requires collecting the necessary evidence and declining settlement offers that are unjust and will not serve to make our clients whole.
Preparation for dealing with the insurance company means having all the necessary documents and information available for the insurer to make an accurate assessment.
Crash scenes can be chaotic. The first priority is to seek and obtain medical attention for anyone who might need it – yourself included.
The second priority is to gather information. That involves getting contact information from and talking to witnesses who may be helpful in supporting your version of events if there is a dispute as to who caused the accident.
Filing a police report is also often a critical, information-gathering step. Although police do not determine fault in a crash, they can issue citations or reach certain conclusions following an investigation, and these are often a key piece of evidence, as police are considered impartial, trained observers.
Take photos of the scene. If you take them with your smartphone, they can likely be easily time-and-date stamped for authentication purposes. If you don’t have your phone or the battery is dead, ask witnesses to take a few snapshots, including damage to the vehicle and any injuries you may have suffered.
Seeking medical attention is also important. Obviously, if you are seriously or critically injured, you will likely be automatically transported for emergency care. However, even if you don’t feel you are badly hurt, getting checked by a physician – and making sure to note any soreness, stiffness, bruising, etc. – could help your case later, especially when it comes to conditions like whiplash, that may not be immediately apparent.
You will want to gather all of this and any property damage repair estimates in preparation for the negotiation process.
Understanding the Negotiation Process
Immediately following the accident, your insurance company will assign a claims adjustor. This will be your point-person on all matters related to your claim. This individual will review the policy coverage with you, launch an investigation into the crash, examine vehicle damage and analyze your medical records.
The claims adjustor will, in all likelihood, offer some type of low settlement soon after the crash. It’s important that you understand what your claim is worth by closely analyzing all your medical bills, repair estimates and the time you were forced to take off work.
If you have suffered serious personal injuries, it’s highly advisable that you first discuss your case with a lawyer before accepting any offer from the insurance company.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL