You get in an accident. The other driver’s insurance company denies the claim. Your question is: what do I do if my car insurance claim is denied?
Insurance companies deny car accident claims for good reasons and bad. The reality is insurance companies make money by taking premiums and not paying out claims. So their default thinking is finding a reason to deny a claim. Is this bad faith? Maybe. But you really don’t care. You just want to get compensated. The important thing to remember is this is why we have car accident lawyers and a civil justice system.
What are some reasons insurance companies deny car accident claims?
- Low property damage, so they are incorrectly contending that you could not be hurt
- The insurance company believes its driver’s version of the story
- The insurance company could not speak with their driver about the collision
- The at-fault driver did not have insurance
- They think you or your lawyer might just go away after the claim is denied
- The insurance company thinks you have serious injuries but that they are preexisting
Sometimes, is denying your claim just hoping you go away. They make money from the deny, delay, and refuse strategy. Every insurance company in Baltimore that we deal with — GEICO, Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide, Progressive, etc. — uses this strategy to some extend. But don’t let yourself be a victim a second time.
What to Do After the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Denies Your Claim?
There may be a formal appeals process with the insurance company to get a reconsideration of the denial of your claim? Is this appeals process usually a joke? Yes, it is usually a joke. So what can you do?
Hire an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer with a History of Success
Don’t just hire any lawyer. The biggest mistake people make is hiring the first lawyer they find on the Internet or that they saw on television. The insurance companies all know which Baltimore auto accident attorneys fight to the death and have a track record for success and which ones don’t. The most important decision you will make in your case is which lawyer to hire. Make that choice carefully.
The lawyer you wish to speak with should give you a free consultation. If you talk to a lawyer who wants you to pay to discuss your case, run the other way. Virtually every single car accident lawyer in Maryland who would be good for your claim will agree to advance all the costs and expenses and get an attorney’s fee only if the case is successful (contingency fee).
Write a Demand Letter Anyway
Your attorney should write a demand letter before filing a lawsuit, even if the claim has been denied. I have had many cases where the insurance company made a firm denial but made a reasonable offer after a demand letter. The demand letter has to explain why the denial was wrongfully made. But that is just one piece of the puzzle. You also need to make sure that you are fully compensated for all of your losses — all of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It is not a win to convince the insurance company to offer you money only to receive compensation that is less than your case is worth. After what you have been through if you have been seriously injured, you want to get more than your case is worth, not less.
File a Lawsuit
If the insurer denies your attorney’s claim, you still want to look for a path to settle the case. But there are some personal injury cases that can’t be settled without a lawsuit. So at some point, you must put on your chin strap and start hitting people. You do that by filing a lawsuit and throwing in everything and the kitchen sink. You don’t just serve the defendants with a lawsuit. You give them interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and a deposition notice to appear and answer questions about the case. Let them know from jump street that you are looking for a fight if they demand one.
Take Another Shot at Settlement
Our lawyers love to go to trial. But most cases settle before trial because if you probably pound the insurance company during the pre-trial discovery process, it will see the light. I have had settlement offers go from zero to millions of dollars during the pre-trial process. Insurance companies have all the power when they deny a claim and they sometimes dispense it gleefully. But they also understand there is a day of reckoning when they go in front of a jury. So getting a trial date and pushing a case closer to trial is often the path to a change of tune and a settlement offer that you will find more than reasonable.