Driving from one spot to another in Oklahoma City is easier than 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 various entities.
If you want to handle your car accident case alone, we’ve summarized how most car wreck claims are handled. If you would rather not 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 must pick up the phone and talk to one of our OKC car accident attorneys. We’re prepared to litigate on your behalf if needed aggressively.
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.
Not only that, but we understand exactly what it takes to settle your claim quickly and secure you the money you deserve.
As you rehab from your injuries, the opposing insurance provider will attempt to negotiate their way out of responsibility or delay payment for as long as possible to save themselves from potential losses. We have had experience with this, and we understand exactly what it takes to settle quickly and secure the damages you deserve.
Handling the Insurance Claim on Your Own
If you would like to handle your car accident case independently, you must ensure you include all of your damages in your initial claim to the insurance company. You need to 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 can 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 much easier to determine liability than hearing from their insured (whose story on how the wreck occurred often changes).
Are there any witnesses to the wreck? 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 that prevented the driver from not stopping in time.
Even though crash severity, or how much property damage 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 headrest? How far did your car move at impact? Car bumpers are designed to take an impact and typically crush in and then pop back out without substantial damage to the car.
Types of Treatment
Insurance companies use the “delay in treatment” defense if there are gaps in a claimant’s treatment.
Insurance companies will also look at the type of treatment claimants receive. If you’re hurt, you must go to your doctor immediately. Most people will wait to see if their back, neck, or shoulder will improve, but a doctor evaluating the injuries early on is critical to properly documenting the claim. Insurance companies use the “delay in treatment” defense if there are gaps in a claimant’s treatment.
Amount of Treatment
An insurance company will evaluate the volume of your treatment as well. The adjuster is investigating how to claim either too much treatment or insufficient (equating to unlikely to be hurt). 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 had previous treatment or injuries to the same body part that was injured in the wreck, they’d claim that it was a “pre-existing condition” and that they’re not responsible, even to the dismay of the doctors who 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 who 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. They usually say the doctors who treated the patient did a good job, but they think that the injury wasn’t from the wreck.
- If they can’t get this argument across, they’ll usually say, “while the patient was injured, he or she wasn’t 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 typically 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, they now represent 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 summarize 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 treatment, we get your medical records and bills together. This is also when 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 response deadline. 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.” Insurance companies often deny claims because it delays the case, even on cases they will settle later. Paying later saves them money. Many “denied” cases quickly settle after an attorney gets involved.
File a Lawsuit
We’ll need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company doesn’t want to settle the claim or keeps dragging its feet. Note that even though the insurance company will be on the other side of the case, the case will be against the driver who 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, meaning they are salaried employees of the insurance company. Their letterhead will have a law firm name, but in reality, they are actually insurance company employees. 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. Subsequently, 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. Most courts will order both parties to attempt to settle the case at a mediation. Most Oklahoma 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, 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 the depositions and discovery are 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.