In the state of Texas, all motorists are legally required to carry car insurance coverage.
Furthermore, there are minimum requirements set by the state, which include:
- $30,000 of coverage for injuries per person
- Up to a total of $60,000 per accident
- $25,000 of coverage for property damage.
This is known as 30/60/25 coverage.
In the event of a minor fender bender, some of these coverages may not come into play.
However, in the event of a serious car accident that causes severe injuries, insurance coverage quickly moves to the forefront.
For example, if your injuries are expensive to treat and keep you from earning a living, the result of an accident can be financial ruin. And for that reason, it’s critical to understand the insurance claims process and how a car accident settlement works.
Filing a car insurance claim in Texas
Once you’re aware of your injuries and long-term prognosis, turn your attention to filing a car insurance claim.
As noted above, all drivers are required to carry 30/60/25 coverage. But of course, there’s always a chance that the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.
You can typically file a car insurance claim in one of two ways: online or over the telephone.
Either way, provide your agent with all the pertinent information about the accident, such as the location, time and date, and the other driver’s insurance information.
Upon filing a formal claim with the other driver’s insurance company, the investigation process begins.
This can include but is not limited to:
- Interviewing all involved parties
- Interviewing witnesses
- Reading the police report
- Examining the area of the accident, often with an accident specialist
- Consulting with medical experts
Remember: Insurance company representatives are not on your side, and that’s especially true when their client is the at-fault party.
Car accident claim settlement offer
After its investigation, the insurance company will do one of two things: approve or deny your claim.
A denial is exactly what it sounds like. It means the insurance company has no intention of paying out any compensation related to the accident. There are many reasons for a denial, such as if they believe their driver was not responsible for the crash.
Of course, just because you receive a denial doesn’t mean the process is over. You can still take legal action to protect your rights and seek compensation for your injuries and other damages.
If the insurance company approves your claim, it’s followed by a settlement offer. This is when you need to take extra caution.
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. And when it comes to claims, that means making low ball offers and hoping for the best.
Don’t be tempted to accept the first offer. Even though you’re stressed and want to put this behind you, don’t give in just yet. This could result in missing out on the full value of the claim.
Can you negotiate during the car settlement process?
Yes, you can negotiate your settlement offer with the other party’s insurance company. In fact, you should expect to do this.
This is a complex process, so it’s best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can review your claim and offer with the idea of moving negotiations in your favor.
You only get one chance to negotiate, so make it count.
Last resort: Mediation and litigation
If you’re unable to work through your differences, it’s time to take your case to mediation. This is done with hopes of reaching a settlement agreement.
Note: either party can request mediation at any time.
While the mediator is available to keep the discussion on track and maintain a record of what’s happening, they don’t have any power beyond that. They can’t force one side or the other to accept an offer or make an offer.
When all else fails, your next steps can be to file a personal injury lawsuit.
This may be necessary if the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer.
If you find yourself in this position, hire a Houston personal injury attorney to review your claim, answer your questions, and provide guidance throughout the litigation process.
Even if you decide to file an injury lawsuit, it doesn’t always mean your case will end up in court. You can still work toward a settlement in the days leading up to your court date.
Nobody wants to deal with the aftermath of a car accident, but you may find that you have no choice. Understanding how a car accident settlement works is critical to obtaining the compensation you deserve. Give Johnson Garcia LLP a call today to simplify this process for you and work towards obtaining the best possible outcome for your damages so you can move on with your life without sacrificing a fair settlement offer.