How Do Insurance Companies Investigate a Car Accident?
After a California car accident, you may wonder what to do next. Since California is a fault-based insurance state, the person responsible for your accident is responsible for paying for your damages, or the losses you suffer due to the crash. This means you have two main pathways to compensation: an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
Most car accident cases begin with an insurance claim. During this process, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case will investigate the accident and determine whether or not you deserve compensation. Understanding an insurance company’s investigation process is necessary to protect your rights and achieve a fair settlement.
Compensation in California Insurance Claims
California requires all drivers to hold the following amounts of liability coverage.
- $15,000 for injury or death per person per accident
- $30,000 for injury or death to multiple people per accident
- $5,000 for property damage per accident
You can collect multiple types of damages through a driver’s liability insurance: funds for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and property replacement, for example. However, the driver in your accident may not have insurance; in this situation, you can file a claim under your own policy if you have the appropriate insurance, such as collision coverage.
What Happens After You File an Insurance Claim?
After seeking medical attention and consulting with a car accident attorney, you will begin the insurance process by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s company. Once you file your claim, the company will assign your case to a representative who will contact you. This representative, or adjuster, must determine whether your accident qualifies for coverage and resolve the claim.
The adjuster will ask you for information about the accident, including the police report, witness testimony, and a statement from you describing the crash. You will also need to supply evidence that you suffered the damages you intend to claim, such as medical records, pay stubs, and photographs of any damage to your car or personal property. The adjuster will also reach out to the policyholder and hear his or her version of events.
All of this information helps the company determine if the at-fault driver’s policy can pay for your damages. At the conclusion of the investigation, the adjuster will issue a decision on the claim and possibly present a settlement offer.
If the adjuster believes you are responsible for the crash or your injuries are not as severe as you claim them to be, the company may deny your claim or issue an insufficient settlement. The company may also deny your claim if your damages exceed policy limits or if the policy does not cover the type of claim you are filing. At this stage, you and your attorney may decide to appeal the decision or escalate your claim to a lawsuit.
Hiring an Attorney for an Insurance Investigation
While the insurance investigation process may seem simple, it is important to remember that the adjuster’s goals may not align with your own. It is the adjuster’s job to act in the best interest of the company, and you may not receive a fair settlement offer. By hiring an injury attorney to represent your claim, you can protect your best interests throughout this process.
Your lawyer can help you prepare documents for review during the investigation, evaluate your settlement offers, and negotiate for fairer compensation if you do not receive an appropriate amount. As soon as you receive medical treatment for your injuries, contact a California car accident attorney to discuss your claim.