When you are involved in a car accident, there are two types of insurance claims: Property Damage and Bodily Injury. Insurance companies employ people called “Adjustors” to evaluate your claim. Most of the time, you will deal with a different Adjustor for each type of claim.
Property Damage Claim
This is the part that covers the cost of repairing (or replacing) your vehicle and other property damaged or destroyed in the accident. Following an accident, you’ll want to get your car to a body shop, and open the property damage claim as soon as possible. The body shop will send an estimate to the Adjustor at the insurance company and they (in most cases) will pay for the repairs Adjustors often argue with the body shop about the cost of repairs since their job is to pay out the least amount possible. Fortunately, your body shop is used to this and will usually figure it out with them. You are not likely to argue with your Adjustor, unless you had personal property destroyed in the accident. In that case they are likely to offer you the lowest possible amount to replace it.
The property damage part is easy, and you don’t need an attorney to handle that. There is usually very little to argue about. It just takes some time and patience.
Bodily Injury Claim
This is the part that should cover the cost of your medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering and other expenses you incur because of the accident. Insurance companies have specially trained Adjustors to assess the value of your claim. They are trained to sound like they really care about you. Don’t be fooled. Their job is to pay you the least amount possible.
Be very careful what you say to them! They will seem very nice on the phone. Remember, they are trained to sound like they care about you. What they are really doing is figuring out how to make it seem like your injuries are not as bad as you think, or that they were not necessarily caused by the accident. A bodily injury claim is much more complicated to deal with.
You are fighting a multi-billion dollar insurance company, and your Adjustor is an expert at keeping their costs down.
If you are hurt, it’s better not to discuss anything about your injuries with the insurance company.
This part of the claim process takes time. No one knows how much to pay you until you have completed all your treatment and are fully recovered. If you never fully recover, then it becomes even more difficult to figure out what they should pay you. It’s not just about your medical bills. You should also be compensated for your time away from work going to see doctors, the pain and discomfort you feel as a result of your injuries, and the trauma from being involved in an accident. Insurance companies will always fight you over this.
If you are hurt, it’s a bad idea to accept an offer from an insurance company to pay your medical bills without having an experienced law firm representing you. Before issuing a check for a Bodily Injury claim, Insurance companies will require you to sign a release giving up your rights to make a claim for your pain & suffering, loss of wages, time spent seeing doctors, and possible long term care if the injury never completely heals.
It’s always a good idea to have a lawyer handle a Bodily Injury Claim. Personal Injury attorneys don’t charge by the hour. They get paid a percentage of the Bodily Injury settlement, so they are incentivized to get the maximum possible for their clients. They only get paid if they win. They deal with insurance companies all the time.