On 10/31/12 at 2:15pm Central Time, I was rear ended by a drunk driver while at a stop light which was red. My car has been determined a total loss. I am awaiting final approvals from the insurance company. I have filed all the claims. I have pictures of the damages to my vehicle. At this point, I'm unsure how much the insurance company will pay for the loss of my car and in addition I have great soreness in my neck and my knees hurt from the impact.
What steps should I take to ensure I am compensated fairly and reasonably? Insurance companies have a tendency of low balling their customers.
Please advise. Thank you!
Since you are already familiar with how insurance companies will lowball you without a lawyer, you already understand that a lawyer can get you more out a settlement in your pocket, even after paying the lawyer's fee. Furthermore, what a lawyer can do is even more highlighted when dealing with a drunk driver case. You have been hurt and need to get all the treatment you need before ever settling. The negligence of this drunk driver has totally interrupted most aspects of your life and his insurance company should have to pay to make you whole again. Make sure you consult with a personal injury attorney before trying to handle it on your own. You will be pleasantly surprised by the better result.
Follow up with your regular doctor as soon as possible and report everything that hurts. This is important because a minor ache and pain now could be turn out to be your main complaint three months from now and if it was never initially documented it could prove hard to relate back to your crash. Proper documentation of all your symptoms/problems is very important. If you are contacted by the drunk drivers insurance do not give a recorded statement or sign any authorizations.
My sympathies with your situation. It is unfortunate that a drunk driver risked your safety and that of others. Generally speaking, Texas juries hate drunk drivers and the insurance company knows that. Normally, insurance carriers will adjust the value of a case involving a drunk driver at a higher rate than a non-intoxicated driver. You should keep this in mind as you proceed.
In addition, the venue for your case (that is the county where you would need to file suit) can affect the value of the claim as well. Dallas County has become more progressive in the past few years and jury verdicts in Dallas County seem to be reflecting that. Again, the insurance company knows this.
If you are hurt, you should seek medical care immediately. Even though you are not at fault for this event, Texas law places a responsibility on you to mitigate your loss and to document your damages/injuries. The only way you can readily prove you are injured is by seeking the care of qualified health care professionals. Do not wait to seek care, as the insurance company will use any type of delay to argue that you are either not hurt or something else caused your injury.
Finally, you may consider hiring an attorney. Typically, you will get a better result with counsel than without, even after paying attorney’s fees. Despite that fact, many insurance companies will have their claims adjusters tell unrepresented parties that they will get less if they hire a lawyer, but you should seriously judge the source of that type of statement and rest assured in my 20 years of experience that is seldom the case.
Make sure you get treated and see an injury attorney in your State as soon as possible. As it relates to the value of your vehicle it would be fair market value. Establish that with ads for your make and model on the internet, print press and/or blue book prices. You can pick and choose to find the best prices. Good luck.
As you are already aware, injuries sustained in an accident can be very difficult to manage. You may be frustrating in dealing with your injuries due to mounting medical bills and overwhelming physical and emotional distress. Moreover, you may not even realize there may be different avenues of compensatory recovery.
You may be able to settle your own claim. But what you must understand is that insurance companies are in business to make a profit and one way to do so is to minimize the amount they pay for a claim. They may even deny your claim altogether. Insurance companies know how to pressure people into rushing through a claim or making statements that could negatively impact the benefits you are eligible to receive.
While it is true that a personal injury attorney will receive a portion of any settlement they help negotiate, the amount you will receive will be significantly higher with the help of an attorney, even after taking the attorney fees into account. It is vital for you to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you through this process.
My brethren above are right. When you have medical problems, get medical help. Your lawsuit is secondary. Your property damage is secondary. Your property damage is important, and state laws (Texas) are so important that they require insurance companies to deal with the property damage claim quickly or they are on the hook for longer terms of rental car, loss of use, and, if the car is repairable, a diminished value claim. If you are hurt, you have an injury claim, but you have to be assessed or someone with the insurance company would be forced to take your word for it over the telephone. That is how you have to see it. They won't just "believe" you. Insurance companies will "ignore" you if they think it helps their position. It is my experience after twenty plus years that you will NOT get more without a lawyer. You will get MORE with one. This is true, however, only if you are hurt and can prove it. Take care of yourself. Get to a doctor, and then hire a good lawyer.
You should expect to get fair market value for your car, its loss of use, as well as any diminished value to your car.
If you have not gone to a doctor yet, you should. Nobody can tell you what an injury claim is worth without actually looking at all of the information. If you do not have any medical appointments or treatment then you should expect a nominal offer or next to nothing from your bodily injury claim. Good luck.
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