When to Hire an Auto Insurance Lawyer
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
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Whether your auto accident claim is denied or you've reached a stalemate in car accident settlement negotiations, an auto accident lawyer may be able to help move things in the right direction. A car accident attorney can give the insurance company a reason to keep working with you, or file a lawsuit to get you the auto accident damages that you deserve.
Why You Can Sue The Insurance Company
The car insurance policy is a contract between the insurer and the insured. If the insurance company fails or refuses to pay a claim which should be paid under the terms of the policy, it is in breach of the contract, and the insured can pursue all available legal remedies for the breach, including filing a lawsuit against the company. Depending on state law and the circumstances of a specific case, damages may also include other expenses such as the costs of the lawsuit.
Auto Insurance Lawyer Handling Coverage Denials
If your auto accident claim is denied, ask your insurance adjuster to put his denial in writing quoting the specific policy language that pertains to your claim. If you disagree with the basis for denial of your claim, your next step would be to consult with an auto accident lawyer who specializes in denied claims. If the lawyer determines you have a reason to dispute the denial they canadvise you on how to act going forward and whether you should first use the insurer's internal appeals or dispute process, or go directly to a legal action.
How an Accident Attorney can Assist with Dispute Resolution
There are a number of dispute resolution options that a car accident attorney can assist you with, including:
- Negotiation:Your car accident attorney can enter into negotiations with the insurance company to reopen your case in the event coverage was denied. The accident attorney will be able to put some pressure on the insurance company, and effectively negotiate a fair settlement considering your damages and your policy.
- Arbitration-Some insurance policies contain a provision allowing or requiring arbitration of disputes between the insurance company and the insured. Arbitration is a procedure for resolving disputes by use of neutral, private individuals (arbitrators) as an alternative to a lawsuit, and it often is a cheaper and faster method of resolving contract disputes as compared with a court proceeding. This procedure usually is not available unless specifically stated in the policy or unless the insurance company and policyholder mutually agree to submit their dispute to arbitration.
- Small Claims Court- This option is available only if the claim is below the state specified maximium amount. Some states set $2,500 as the maximum limit in small claims court. Others states can go as high as $25,000. The documents that you have already pulled together for your negotiation can serve as documentation in court including any policy reports or photos. Remember however, once you are awarded a settlement in small claims court, it is final! No recourse!
If none of these options above work, your car accident attorney can file a lawsuit against the insurance company to get the full value of your claim. The lawsuit should only be used as a last resort, and on the advice of an attorney. A car accident attorney can also sue the party responsible for your injuries and damages, so ask about that possibility as well. Remember if you plan to file a lawsuit, each state has its own statues pertaining to how long you have to act, so you need to avoid unnecessary delays. Be on the ball and up to speed on your claim, and work with your auto insurance attorney to get them anything they need.