If you are in an accident with another driver and their insurance company denies liability, you may be wondering what your next steps are. You have a few options, and it is important to understand them all before deciding how to proceed in your case.
How Does the Standard Claims Process Work?
The first step in the process is to file a claim with the other motorist’s insurer. This will jumpstart their investigation into the accident and lead to them making a determination of who is at fault.
An insurance company would ideally pay you for any accident-related damages if they deemed their motorist to be at fault for your crash. However, insurance companies are money-making businesses. While insurers sometimes deny liability for valid reasons, they can also do so for frivolous ones. They will not pay for any damages if they determine that you were at fault for the crash.
Insurance companies often deny claims which can make the process much more complicated.
Reasons an Insurer May Deny a Claim
When you are in an accident, the last thing you want to worry about is dealing with the insurance company. Unfortunately, sometimes insurers will deny claims for a variety of reasons.
Some of the most common reasons include:
They Believe Their Insured Wasn’t at Fault
Insurers often rely heavily on their interpretation of a police report in reaching liability determinations. These reports can contain inaccurate information compared to other evidence, such as eyewitness accounts and photographs.
Insurers Claim There Isn’t Enough Evidence
Insurance adjusters may deny a claim because the evidence they have access to is unclear or inconclusive. It’s always important to provide some degree of pushback when denials happen for this reason. While you may have an abundance of information supporting your claim, it might not have made it to the insurer. Having a lawyer during this step of the process can help ensure every insurance company involved has every bit of information needed.
The Policyholder Doesn’t Have Enough Coverage
In some cases, an insurer may deny a claim because the policyholder doesn’t have enough coverage to cover the damages. This is why it’s so important to make sure you have underinsured motorist and other types of coverage on your own insurance policy.
If an insurer denies your claim, you can refute the denial and fight back. An attorney is invaluable if you’re in this situation. If you are unable to reach a resolution, you may need to file a lawsuit.
Get Help from an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
An attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claim and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. A lawyer can also represent you in court if filing a lawsuit becomes necessary.
Know that if litigation becomes necessary, the onus falls on you as the plaintiff to prove another motorist’s liability for your crash. Building a case to try it in a courtroom is a time-intensive process. Additionally, you must take legal action by certain deadlines, known as statutes of limitations.
Can I Appeal an Insurance Liability Determination?
If you do not agree with the insurance company’s determination of liability, you also have the right to appeal their decision. The first step in the appeals process is to send a letter to the insurance company outlining why you believe they are wrong and requesting that they reconsider their decision.
If the insurance company still denies your claim, you can file a bad faith insurance complaint with the state. Its insurance department will then investigate your claim and determine whether or not the insurance company was correct in its decision.
If you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can file a civil lawsuit against the other driver to recover damages. This is often the last resort, as it can be time-consuming and expensive.
Can You Recover Compensation from Your Own Insurer?
If you are not found to be liable for the accident, you may still be able to recover compensation from your own insurer. This is known as uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage protects you if the other driver does not have insurance or does not have adequate insurance coverage to adequately cover your damages.
If you have this type of coverage, you will need to file a claim with your own insurance company. They will then investigate the accident and determine whether or not you are eligible for compensation.
It’s important to note that you can only recover compensation up to a policy’s limits. So, if you have a $50,000 policy and your damages are $75,000, you will only be able to recover $50,000 from your insurer.
How Can I Avoid Having My Claim Denied?
You can do a few things to prevent your claim from being denied and have a better chance of being compensated:
Make Sure You Have Adequate Coverage Yourself
First, make sure that you have adequate insurance, such as uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This will ensure that you are protected if the other driver does not have insurance or does not have adequate insurance to cover your damages.
Collect as Much Evidence as Possible
Do your best to collect any evidence that may support your claim after the accident. This includes photos of the scene, witness statements, and your own account of what happened. The more evidence you have, the easier it will be to prove your case.
Don’t Wait Too Long to File Your Claim
Don’t wait too long to file a claim. There is a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit, so if you wait too long, you may not be able to recover compensation.
Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Make sure you speak with a lawyer if you fear your claim may become complicated or face denial. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and ensure that you take the necessary steps to protect your right to a settlement.
If you have been involved in a car accident attributable to another motorist’s negligence, contact Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC today to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys will advocate for you against unscrupulous insurance companies that are quick to deny liability.