Do I need to file a lawsuit?
Without many details about the nature of your claim or why you think the insurance company is not offering you a 'fair' settlement, it is difficult to offer advice on how you should proceed. If you are referring to property damage, it is always frustrating when your vehicle is totaled but what the insurance offers is insufficient to purchase a new car. However, the policy defines how the value of the vehicle will be determined and there is very little you can do to get more from the company than the repair estimate or appraised cost. If you are referring to the 'fair' value of personal injuries, that is a much more complex question and you should consult with an attorney about the value of your injuries.
If you do not want to consult with an attorney but still want to challenge the insurance company's decision, you may want to consult the DORA website (through the Colorado Secretary of State) for additional information and resources.
Essentially, you are claiming that your own insurance carrier has breached its contract with you for failure to tender a fair settlement of your "first party" benefits claim (property damage). If you think you can document and prove that the carrier is not offering the necessary and reasonable cost of repair , or the fair market value of the car if it is totalled (you are entitled to whichever amount is less), then definitely take them to court.
Negotiating with insurance companies on your own can be cumbersome. You mentioned that you're working with your own insurance carrier; do you have any injuries or are you only trying to get your car fixed? If you have injuries, and the other driver is unknown or doesn't have insurance, then you will need Uninsured Motorist Coverage to cover your losses. If your vehicle was damaged and you want to repair it, then you need to have Property Damage Liability Coverage to make a claim with your insurance company. You will pay a deductible, but you may get reimbursed depending on the situation. If you have further questions feel free to ask.
A fair settlement is not what the insurance industry is interested in. They are interested in retaining their money and increasing profits for their shareholders. The sole goal of any insurance carrier is to pay you nothing or as little as possible on your claim. They are neither your friend nor your good neighbor. From your posting, it appears that you are attempting to resolve this without the help of experienced counsel.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
The attorneys at our office constantly debate whether to file car accident lawsuits as soon as they happen or wait until the claimant has completed treatment and a demand is submit. The reason being 90% of the auto accident case have to be filed anyway because of unfair settlement offers. Your story is "the norm." Call a local personal injury law firm to file your lawsuit.
It's very common for insurance companies to make "low-ball" offers in auto accident claims. Without knowing the specific details of your situation, it's difficult to evaluate exactly what's going on in this case. I recommend you contact and experienced personal injury attorney for assistance and don't agree to anything with the insurance company until you do.
If you are in a car accident and your insurance company does not make a fair settlement offer in your property damage and personal injury claim, then the claimant must decide whether to hire an attorney. This also assumes the accident case is in excess of a small claims matter where an attorney is not needed for an automobile accident claim.
Are you referring to a "fair settlement" for property damage under your collision coverage or for an uninsured motorist claim for bodily injury?
The answer depends on how your insurance company is involved and other factors too numerous to mention here.
I would strongly recommend that you consult with an experienced attorney in your area who handles automobile accident cases. Many offer free consultations and should be able to answer our question after getting the full details from you in person.
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