Being involved in a car crash is a devastating experience, and the aftermath can be just as overwhelming. Not only do you need to visit doctors and focus on your recovery, but you'll also be facing other serious challenges, including preparing documentation for your claim and dealing with insurance companies.
The unfortunate truth is that dealing with insurance companies — even in an airtight case — is difficult. They are notoriously tight-fisted and may engage in tactics aimed at minimizing, delaying, or denying car accident claims. This is why you must learn how to negotiate with insurance companies after a car accident — or, better yet, leave the insurance companies to an experienced car accident attorney.
Understanding How Auto Insurance Works in Texas
Texas law requires drivers to pay for accidents they cause. As such, all motorists must carry liability insurance to pay for property damage and injuries caused to others when they are at fault in a car accident.
As outlined by the Texas Department of Insurance, all drivers must carry minimum liability coverage of:
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
- $30,000 for each injured person
- $60,000 per accident total
At-fault Insurance Explained
Texas follows the "fault" insurance system. Under this system, the at-fault driver or any other at-fault party is responsible for the resulting damages. While the at-fault party in car accidents is often another driver, another party, such as a vehicle manufacturer, may be at fault and responsible for damages.
After suffering injuries in a car crash caused by another driver in Texas, you have several options:
- File an accident claim with your insurance company.
- File a third-party accident claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.
- File a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Other Types of Auto Insurance Coverage in Texas
Because liability insurance does not pay for the at-fault driver's injuries and vehicle repairs after a crash, and the minimum amount is rarely enough to pay for all costs after a crash, Texas drivers can choose to have additional types of auto coverage, including:
- Personal injury protection insurance
- Comprehensive insurance
- Medical payments insurance
- Collision insurance
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance
Car Accident Insurance Claims Process
Many car accident victims are unfamiliar with the insurance claims process and often find it daunting and confusing. Working with a car accident attorney can streamline the process and alleviate the stress that comes with the insurance claims process.
A lawyer will handle all steps and aspects of the claim from start to finish to ensure maximum recovery for loss of income, medical expenses, and other losses resulting from your car accident.
Generally, the steps involved in the Texas auto insurance claims process include the following:
- Preparing your insurance claim
- Collecting evidence for your claim
- Communicating with insurance companies
- Drafting and submitting a demand letter
- Negotiating a settlement with insurance companies
Things to Watch Out for When Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Crash
Insurance companies — both the at-fault driver's and your own — want you to believe you're in good hands after you've been hurt in a car accident. They want you to think they will process your claim as quickly as possible and want you to receive fair compensation. Unfortunately, insurance companies exist to make a profit and are not always looking out for your interests.
You can take the right steps after a car accident and when handling an insurance claim to ensure you get out of the claims process with the best possible compensation.
Here are four "red flags" to watch out for when negotiating with insurance companies after a car accident:
The Insurance Company Wants You to Sign a Medical Release Document
A medical release form authorizes the insurance company to access your medical records. Insurance companies are not looking out for your interests when they want access to your medical records. On the contrary, they are hoping to review your claim and find anything they can use to weaken it.
The Insurer Wants You To Give a Recorded Statement
Anything you say to the insurance company, whether verbally or in writing, could and probably will be used to undervalue your claim. Insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions about the wreck, your injuries, and your medical history in a way that is favorable to them.
Your claim hangs in the balance. Don't fall for their tricks. If an insurance adjuster contacts you, politely decline to answer their questions and consult with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
The Insurance Company Says Your Damages and Other Losses Are Not Covered
Is the insurer saying that some or all of your losses are not covered? They may be trying to intimidate you into accepting less than you're owed. Don't let them intimidate you.
Remember, insurance companies are aware of the fact that few policyholders know the intricate details of their policies. They will attempt to use this to their advantage. Talk to an attorney right away to get the settlement you rightfully deserve.
The Insurance Company Is Offering a Quick Settlement
Did you receive a settlement offer after one or two phone calls with an insurance adjuster? If so, they're likely offering a lowball settlement that's far less than you deserve. Review the settlement with a lawyer because once you accept the money, that's it. You can’t demand any more compensation.
Talk to a Texas Car Accident Lawyer Right Away About Your Insurance Claim
Taking the right steps and precautions when dealing with insurance companies is vital to any car accident claim. If you make mistakes, you could be left with additional losses that weren't covered, and you can quickly wonder if filing the claim was worth it at all.
Working with a Texas car accident attorney from The Francis Firm will help you navigate the complex legal minefield auto accident victims often encounter after a wreck. We know how to get you the necessary medical care and will deal with insurance companies on your behalf. Contact us at 817-329-9001 or reach out online for a free case evaluation. We have offices conveniently located in Southlake, Fort Worth, and Dallas.