The aftermath of a car accident is stressful. You may be recovering physically and emotionally from devastating injuries, while worrying about the impact to your employment and finances. When you receive a phone call from the insurance company for the party at fault for the accident, it can be tempting to talk with them and cooperate with their requests—after all, you’re hoping they’ll pay your bills!
But as friendly and helpful as the insurance agent may sound, their interests are directly opposite to yours. They are not there to help you, but to protect the interests of their employer by paying out as little as possible on every claim. Contacting you as soon as possible after the accident is not out of concern or responsibility, but to catch you off guard after a traumatic event—and perhaps before you have determined the full extent of your injuries or had time to contact a lawyer to protect yourself.
If you have been injured in a car accident, a Los Angeles County auto insurance dispute attorney can help make sure you get the fair compensation that you deserve, and that you’re entitled to by law. The skilled legal team at MAJK Law works closely with in-house insurance advisors to offer unique expertise in insurance disputes. We’ll fight hard to represent your interests and obtain the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
Common Disputes Between a Claimant and Their Auto Insurance Carriers
There are a number of common tactics used by insurance companies to attempt to deny claims or to reduce the amount of the payment you receive. First, they may contact you immediately after an accident, while you may still be vulnerable, and ask for a recorded statement. They may also ask you to sign a release form, permitting them to review your medical history. Insurance adjusters do these things as a means of building a case against the victim in the event of a resulting injury claim. If you are contacted by an insurance agent after an auto accident, do not speak with them or sign anything until you’ve contacted an insurance dispute attorney.
Insurance companies employ additional techniques in the attempt to deny claims, or to reduce the amount of payment they may owe you. A knowledgeable Los Angeles auto insurance dispute attorney can help protect you in disputes that arise from these and other attempts by insurance companies to avoid a fair payment for your injuries.
- Attempts to Reduce Value of Medical Services for Bodily Injuries. California law requires that insurance cover all reasonable and necessary medical expenses resulting from injuries sustained in a car accident. An insurance company may try to argue that your treatment was not necessary or went on too long, as reasons not to pay for it. They may even try to convince you not to seek treatment or to discontinue it, and then use that as proof that your injuries were not as serious as you have claimed. Do not let an insurance company dictate the terms of your recovery—if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, consult with an attorney to make sure you are compensated.
- Attempts to Deny or Reduce Pain and Suffering Claims. The amount you may be due for pain and suffering can be more difficult to calculate and prove than economic expenses such as for medical bills or vehicle repair. However, noneconomic damages make up a significant part of the overall compensation to which you may be entitled. Do not let an insurance company tell you these damages are not available to you or that they are insignificant.
- Attempts to Shift Blame or Fault of the Accident. California is a comparative fault state, which means that multiple parties can be at fault for an accident, and that you may be able to recover for damages even if you are partially to blame for the accident. However, insurance companies sometimes try to use comparative fault to reduce the value of their claim by increasing your percentage of fault. A car accident attorney with experience in insurance disputes can help ensure an accurate determination of fault—do not attempt to navigate complex comparative fault laws on your own. If an insurance company has informed you that you carry most or all of the responsibility for an accident, you have the right to dispute their claim.
- Attempts to Reduce Claim Because of Pre-Existing Conditions or Prior Medical Problems. If you have pre-existing conditions, the insurance company may try to attach some of your current injuries to your existing or past medical condition. If a pre-existing condition made you more susceptible to injury, you may be protected by California tort law. An insurance company cannot escape liability solely because of a victim’s pre-existing or prior medical conditions.
- Attempts to Reduce Repair Costs. The insurance company is entitled to conduct a reasonable inspection of your vehicle. However, you are also entitled to an inspection of your vehicle, and an estimate of the repair costs, provided by the auto repair shop of your choice.
- Attempts to Reduce “Fair Market Value” of Your Vehicle. An insurance company is required by California law to pay to repair the vehicle or the fair market value of the vehicle—whichever is less. The determination of fair market value should involve a market analysis of vehicles that are similar in make, model, age, and other features. The determination of repair cost should include estimates from multiple independent auto repair shops—not just one that the insurance company chooses.
- Attempts to Delay. If you are recovering from an accident, you may be missing paychecks and facing mounting medical bills and other financial issues. You may be tempted to take whatever the insurance company offers—especially as time drags on and your expenses continue to climb. The availability of witnesses, reports and physical information from the accident may become less available. Insurance companies may use this to their advantage. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, seek legal counsel immediately.
- Discouraging You from Hiring an Attorney. Insurance companies may claim that you do not need legal representation. The truth is, without a car accident lawyer who specializes in insurance disputes at your side, no one is looking out for your interests—and in fact, everyone involved is trying to reduce the amount that you are paid. Insurance companies have attorneys fighting hard for their rights—and you should too.
The amount of damages you may be entitled to may depend on the details of your claim, the specific circumstances of your accident, and the quality of your legal counsel. Do not miss out on compensation to which you are entitled—seek the counsel of a qualified Los Angeles insurance dispute attorney.
What To Do If an Insurance Company Refuses to Pay or Devalues Your Claim
In the event of a dispute with an insurance company, our experienced legal team can help. In some cases, there are legitimate differences of opinion with regard to many aspects of the accident and payment, for example the determination of fault. These disagreements may be taken to mediation, where a neutral mediator can help resolve the differences.
In other cases, such as the common dispute situations listed above, the insurance company is not acting in good faith. In these cases, you may be able to sue your insurance company. This is typically known as a bad faith claim, and the company may be liable for even more than the amount of the initial claim that they denied. These claims may involve extensive negotiation with the insurance company and may or may not end up in court. Many times, companies prefer to avoid a lengthy (and costly) court battle and settle out of court.
Insurance companies may be less likely to take advantage of your situation when you have a knowledgeable insurance dispute lawyer working to protect your rights and advocate for you. MAJK Law specializes in protecting our clients and aggressively pursuing the compensation they deserve.
The MAJK Law Difference
At MAJK Law, our injury attorneys have extensive experience representing car accident victims in Los Angeles County. If you have been injured in an auto accident, we can help through all stages of the legal and insurance processes that ensue, including:
- Investigating the incident and determining fault;
- Collecting and analyzing the police report;
- Communicating and negotiating with insurance companies and other involved parties;
- Calculating damages;
- Drafting an insurance demand letter;
- Representing your interests in court; and
- Ensuring that you have access to the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
Following an accident, there are many competing interests. The insurance company wants to save money by encouraging victims to take the lowest settlement possible, and other parties to the crash may be pursuing compensation or seeking to avoid liability.
Having a Los Angeles auto insurance dispute attorney by your side allows you to advocate effectively for your own interests. We have experience dealing with a wide range of insurance companies – from Farmers to State Farm.
Contact a Los Angeles Car Insurance Lawyer Today
If you have been involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, our lawyers at MAJK Law are available 24/7 to help. Let us navigate the legal process and fight for what you deserve so that you can focus on your recovery and getting back to your life. Contact us today to book a free and confidential consultation about your case.