Where there is a motor vehicle accident, there is usually an insurance company that will do an investigation BEFORE they will make any payments. There are several things an insurance company will probably consider before they will accept liability for a motor vehicle accident and cut you a check.
- Valid Coverage; before any payments can be made, it MUST be determined whether or not the individual had valid insurance coverage at the time of the accident. You would be surprised to learn exactly how many claims get denied due to a lapsed or old policy
- Driver’s Statement; the insurance carrier always requires a statement from their driver. The statement is often recorded for their records and provides them with all the accident details they need.
- Owner’s Statement; if the owner is different from the driver, the insurance company will most likely require a statement from the vehicle owner as well. If the driver is not listed on the owner’s policy, the insurance company will want to determine whether or not the driver had “permissive use”. In other words, did the driver have permission to drive the vehicle?
- Investigative Reports; if the police or other government agency came to the scene, the insurance carrier will want to obtain those reports. A police report can provide the officers conclusions made at the scene or indicate whether or not citations were issued. A police officers statement can also be obtained. The police officer’s opinion is viewed as unbiased as he/she is often an objective third party.
- Witness Statements; in the event there are independent witnesses to an accident, those statements will need to be obtained as well. An independent witness can be the key to any liability decision.
- Inspection of the Vehicle; inspection of both the insured’s vehicle as well as the other vehicle(s) involved and can help determine the point of impact amongst other things. Property damage can be very telling. An inspector will assess the damage and even take pictures.
The insurance carrier will usually take all of these factors into consideration before accepting liability or making payments. However, in some cases where the at-fault party actually admits fault to his/her own insurance carrier, it may be possible to avoid some of the aforementioned steps.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer:
Certainly, not every occasion calls for an attorney. If you are in a minor car accident for example, and no one is injured, it may not be necessary to call a lawyer if all parties can agree who was responsible. That being said, certain circumstances can result in more complicated legal scenarios than others. We would recommend you consult with an attorney promptly if any of the following are applicable to you:
- - You or a family member was killed due to medical negligence or other reckless behavior
- - You have sustained catastrophic or series injuries, which will likely have, long term repercussions on your day-to-day life.
- - You have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and the other driver has no insurance.
- - You have sustained serious injuries and you anticipate the other driver will not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate you for your losses.
- - You have been involved in a motor vehicle crash and both you and the other driver cannot agree who was at fault.
- - You don't feel like the insurance company is offering you fair value for your troubles. (You don't feel the compensation being offered to you is fair or will fully satisfy your present or future medical costs
- - The other driver’s insurance company is pressuring you into giving a recorded statement.
- - You are being pressured by an insurance company to agree to a quick settlement.
- - You anticipate having to file a lawsuit or taking your case to court in order to get fairly compensated.
- - You are concerned about not fully complying with your state's legal and/or procedural requirements for making a claim. (I.e. your claim is against a state or local government entity.
- - You are concerned about taking on a large business entity or corporation, which you do not believe, will fairly address your concerns.