Driving from one spot to another in Oklahoma City is easy compared to other metros, but a ride can take a wrong turn quickly if you find yourself in a wreck with another car. Injuries sustained in an auto accident may leave you with ongoing challenges for the rest of your life. And you will need to sort through a mountain of legal issues with a variety of different entities.
If you’re wanting to handle your car accident case on your own, we’ve provided a summary here on how most car wreck claims are handled. If you don’t want to handle the claim, give us a call.
That’s Where Our Car Accident Attorneys Come in
Once you tend to your immediate health, you will most likely want to figure out how to cover damages incurred to your car. And, to prove liability, you will certainly want to discover why the accident happened in the first place – was the other driver drinking? Were they speeding? Texting, even?
How will you deal with the insurance company?
Truthfully, these aren’t questions that you need to ask. You simply need to pick up the phone and talk to one of our OKC car accident attorneys. We’re prepared to aggressively litigate on your behalf if needed.
We understand that a car accident can be a traumatizing experience and that you may want to rest and recover in the comfort of your own home.
We understand exactly what it takes to settle your claim quickly and secure you the money that you deserve.
As you rehab from your injuries, the opposing insurance provider will attempt to negotiate their way out of responsibility, or will try to delay payment for as long as possible in order to save themselves from any potential losses. We have had experience with this, and understand exactly what it takes to settle quickly and secure you the damages that you deserve.
Handling the Insurance Claim on Your Own
If you would like to handle your car accident case on your own, you need to make sure you include all of your damages in your initial claim to the insurance company, and factor in any issues that may increase or decrease the value of your case.
Issues Insurance Companies Look at in Accidents
Is liability (who’s at fault for the accident) clear? If you’ve been in a car wreck, you should contact the police immediately to come to the scene. A police officer will be able to investigate and issue an accident report showing who caused the wreck. An insurance company almost always wants a copy of the report. Having a report to look at is a lot easier to determine liability than hearing from their insured (who’s story on how the wreck occurred often changes).
Are there any witnesses to the wreck? Sometimes this can make the difference in determining, or showing the insurance company, that their driver was responsible. A common defense is that there was a sudden emergency which prevented the driver from not stopping in time.
Even though crash severity, or how much property damages occurs, is not correlated with the injuries sustained, insurance companies will look at how much property damage there is. You should note what happened to your body at impact. How were you positioned or braced in the car? Did you hit the steering wheel, door, or head rest? How far did your car move at impact? Car bumpers are designed to take an impact and they will often crush in, and then pop back out without substantial damage to the car.
Types of Treatment
Insurance companies like to use the “delay in treatment” defense if there are any gaps in a claimant’s treatment.
Insurance companies will also look at the type of treatment claimants receive. It’s important, if you’re hurt, to go to your doctor immediately. Most people will wait to see if their back, neck or shoulder will get better, but having a doctor evaluate you early on is important to documenting your claim. Insurance companies like to use the “delay in treatment” defense if there are any gaps in a claimant’s treatment.
Amount of Treatment
An insurance company will evaluate the volume of your treatment as well. The adjuster is looking for ways to claim that there is either too much treatment, or not enough. Why is your doctor prescribing the same physical therapy for six months if you’re not substantially improving? Or, your doctor prescribed six weeks of physical therapy, but why did you only go to the first appointment?
Your Previous Medical History
Insurance companies will look at your prior medical history when evaluating a claim. If you’ve had previous treatment or injuries to the same body part that was injured in the wreck, then they’ll claim that it was a “pre-existing” condition and that they’re not responsible (even to the dismay of the doctors that treat and see your injuries). Surprisingly (or not, that’s how they undervalue claims to save money) these same insurance companies will claim that your injury was “predisposed” to injury and thus was also a pre-existing condition!
If your case goes to trial, the insurance company will have a Defense Medical Examination (DME) of you. The insurance company calls this an “Independent Medical Exam” or IME. This “independent” exam is nothing of the sort. It’s bought and paid for by the insurance companies. The examination is by doctors that have built their practices around testifying for insurance companies and get paid millions for this testimony. The insurance doctors usually have several “standard” excuses:
- The patient wasn’t hurt in the accident. He or she must have gotten injured somewhere else. Mind you, they usually say the doctors that treated the patient did a good job, but they just think that the injury wasn’t from the wreck.
- If they can’t get this argument across, then they’ll usually say that “while the patient was injured, he or she wasn’t that injured enough for this much treatment.” You’ll often hear, (regardless of how reasonable the treatment was), that it should have been shorter. Mind you, this doctor is looking at the patient a year or more after the wreck.
- The insurance company doctor will then usually say that the patient has fully healed from the wreck, regardless of what the treating doctors and medical doctors say.
How Our Lawyers Can Help if You Were Injured in a Car Crash
Here, you’ll meet with an attorney to evaluate your case. You should also evaluate the attorney. Is this someone you want to work with over the next year or so? If you don’t like them, go see another attorney. The attorney should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case with you at the initial consultation. They should also have prior experience handling these types of cases. Can they mention any similar cases to yours?
If you and the attorney agree to sign a contract, then they’re representing you on your case. At this point, you should not be worrying about how to deal with the insurance company that keeps calling you. Your attorney will “take it from here.” Your priority is getting the proper medical treatment you need and getting back to normal as soon as possible.
Our demand packets provide a summary of the case and the harms and losses the client has incurred, including: how the accident occurred (liability), medical treatment, medical bills, and lost income.
Once you are through treating, we get all of your medical records and bills together. This is also the time we get information from your employer showing how much work you missed and how much you would have been paid. This occurs after we’ve interviewed any witnesses. Witnesses should be interviewed as soon as possible after the car accident.
Attempt at Settlement
We initially send the demand packet with a settlement demand and a deadline to respond. At this point, the insurance company should have the case evaluated within a reasonable time, and they will either make a counteroffer or “deny the claim.” Note that insurance companies often deny claims because it delays the case, even on cases that they will later settle. Paying later saves them money. A lot of “denied” cases quickly settle after an attorney gets involved.
File a Lawsuit
If the insurance company doesn’t want to settle the claim, or keeps dragging their feet, then we’ll need to file a lawsuit. Note that even though the insurance company will be on the other side of the case, the case will be against the driver that was at fault for the wreck, not the insurance company involved in the claim.
The insurance company will defend their case with their attorneys. Most insurance companies nowadays have “in house” counsel, which simply means that they are salaried employees of the insurance company. Their letterhead will have a law firm name, but in reality, they are actually employees of the insurance company. The insurance companies use “shell” law firm names to hide this fact from juries.
After the lawsuit is filed, the insurance company (their attorneys) will file an Answer in the case, and will then generally immediately issue written questions for you to answer. These are called Interrogatories. After that, they’ll likely want to have a deposition with you in person to ask you questions. This is also when they evaluate you, and consider how you will come across on the witness stand, etc. During this time, we’re also conducting discovery of their driver and anything related to the case.
Attempt at Settlement
Most cases settle, so there’s a chance your case will settle even after the lawsuit was filed. In fact, most courts will order both parties to attempt to settle the case at a mediation. A lot of judges require mediation (a settlement conference) before the case can go to trial. The mediation cost is split between the litigants, and is a neutral third party that serves as a go between working the case to get it settled.
If your case can’t get settled, then your only recourse for recovery is to go to trial. Most car accident trials will last two days to about a week, but that’s after all of the depositions and discovery is done in your case.
Call for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, contact us for a free consultation. Our experienced team of car accident attorneys will fight to get you the maximum compensation for your injuries, medical bills and suffering.