Most of the car accidents that are referenced in the news or on personal injury lawyers’ websites involve injuries that require expensive medical treatment and therapy to recover from but the majority of auto accidents reported each year occur without any sufficient physical harm to either party. Due to the fact that it is not lucrative to represent those who are filing claims for property damage only, many of the people who are involved in Chicago automobile accidents must fend for themselves when dealing with insurance companies that will unabashedly take advantage of them at every turn and corner. Here are some helpful facts to help you should you find yourself needing to file a property damage claim following an accident.Common Insurance Adjuster Ploys and Traps
Insurance adjusters are aware of the difficulty that most people will have obtaining legal representation when their claim does not involve significant medical bills, so they will attempt to frustrate or intimidate the victim in order to reduce the payout or avoid paying a claim. Be wary of these tricks whenever you are dealing with an insurance adjuster to protect yourself and avoid being put in a position you will not be able to get out of.
- The first offer to settle the claim is only an initial offer— adjusters will attempt to scare victims by using an all or nothing approach. Do not let insurance adjusters bully you into thinking that you do not have the right to refuse a settlement as it is fully within your rights to decline an offer and even to take the matter to court if no settlement can be reached.
- All communication is recorded— you may know full well that the other driver was at fault and have the evidence to support your claim but insurance adjusters are trained to find holes in your story that may be used in court to exonerate their clients from responsibility just so that a claim can be avoided. Everything that you say over the phone to a claims adjuster is being recorded, so keep this in mind whenever you negotiate in this manner.
- Refusal to provide a rental car or reimbursement for one— you not only have the right to be reimbursed for a rental while your vehicle is being repaired, but you also have the right to receive a rental vehicle that is a similar class and model to your own. Insurance companies may be unable to provide you with a rental car immediately if they have not yet taken a statement from the person at fault for the accident, so you may be required to pay for the rental upfront. You have a right to receive the value of your rental purchase as a part of your final settlement, however.
- You must use the insurance company’s repair shop— this is false but it may be helpful to use the insurance provider’s repair service anyway. If the cost of your repair exceeds the amount of money the insurance provider is willing to provide, you may be left with the tab if you use your own repair shop while insurance companies have specific arrangements with their repair service providers and can resolve any issues more easily.
- You may use your own collision insurance to pay for damages while waiting for a settlement from the other party’s insurance. The deductible can then be included in the final settlement. In some cases, your insurance company will even go so far as to recover your deductible from the other insurer for you instead of requiring you to pay it upfront.
- If you do not have GAP insurance, it is an advisable addition to your policy as it protects you should the value of your vehicle not be sufficient to pay off the remainder of your loan. This information is not as useful after the fact, of course, but will protect you in the future.
- You don’t have to and in many cases should not make your own settlement demand until you have received an offer from the insurance company. If your demand is lower than the offer the insurance company was considering, you will have cost yourself a significant sum of compensation.
- There is a statute of limitations on claims that requires you to file a lawsuit within a certain time frame, which may vary by state or locale. Insurance companies may attempt to drag out negotiations so that this statute of limitations will expire. If it does, you are unable to take your claim to court so make sure that you are aware of how long you have to file your claim.
- Even if you decide to handle your case on your own, it may be in your best interest to obtain the opinion of a reputable attorney. In the best case scenario, you may find an attorney that is willing and able to represent you.
If you have additional questions, you may contact us for a free consultation and a case review to see if we are able to take your case or provide you with any guidance in the matter. Whether or not you should retain the services of an attorney will depend on the value of the case and whether the compensation collected would justify any attorney fees you would need to pay. If we are unable to take your case or fail to secure a settlement or judgment in your favor, our services will come at absolutely no cost to you.