When you have a car accident that is not your fault, you will need to file a claim with the at-fault driver's auto insurance policy. If you have suffered injuries, the insurance company may try to deny your claim or make an unreasonably low offer that is insufficient to cover the losses that you have suffered. When an insurance company denies or disputes your injury accident claim, it may be necessary for you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. The insurance company is the party that will ultimately be responsible for paying any damages that you are awarded through a verdict or that you agree to in a settlement. Our car crash lawyers can help.
Here is what you need to know about making a claim against an auto insurance company after a motor vehicle accident.
Car accident form
After you have been in a car accident, the officer who arrives on the scene and investigates what happened will give you an SCDMV Form FR-10. This is a green form that must be submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles to prove that you had insurance. You must submit this form to your insurance company, and the company will have 15 days to complete it and transmit it to the SCDMV. The other driver will also be given a form that he or she will have to submit to his or her own insurance company.
If an officer did not investigate your accident, and it involved bodily injuries, a death, or property losses of more than $1,000, you will need to complete Form FR-309, which is traffic collision report. You must submit this form to the SCDMV. After an officer has completed his or her investigation and has written a report, you can file Form FR-50 with the SCDMV to request a copy of the officer's report. You can find the relevant forms on the SCDMV's website.
What is a car accident lawsuit?
A car accident lawsuit is a tort claim that you can file against the person or entity that caused your collision and resulting injuries. It is a civil lawsuit. Most car accident lawsuits are based on theories of negligence. To prevail in these cases, you must be able to prove the following elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care;
- The defendant breached his or her duty of care;
- Because of the defendant's breach, the accident occurred;
- The defendant's breach was a direct or proximate cause of the accident and your injuries; and
- You suffered harm as a result.
While your lawsuit will be filed against the at-fault driver, the insurance company is the party that will ultimately pay any damages that you are able to recover.
Car Insurance Companies
After your injury accident, your attorney will determine the value of your claim and will send a demand letter to the at-fault driver's insurance company. The insurance company will then do one of a few things. It can accept your demand and pay what you have asked for. It can make a counteroffer of a lower amount, or it can dispute or deny your claim. In many cases, insurance companies will try to deny or dispute claims or will make unreasonably low offers. Here are some of the common insurance companies and how they handle claims.
Geico is one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. and has more than $27 billion in assets. The company has amassed its assets through its shrewd business practices, and it tries to limit paying accident victims what they are owed. Geico is known to lowball accident victims to try to get them to accept less than what they should recover. Filing a lawsuit is normally necessary to secure a reasonable settlement offer. The company tends to offer more once a lawsuit has been filed.
Allstate has been in the insurance business since 1931. To adjust the claims that it receives, it uses its proprietary software program called Colossus. This program has been the subject of significant litigation. It is a massive database of accident claims and their outcomes. The program does not take into account any liability. It calculates the estimated value of your claim. If your vehicle did not sustain substantial damage that makes it appear more severe, Allstate is known for fighting such claims.
Progressive is another huge insurance company that insures millions of drivers across the U.S. Like Geico, Progressive is known to make lowball offers to injury accident victims in an effort to convince them that their claims are worth less than they are. It is often necessary to file auto accident lawsuits against Progressive and then to negotiate with the company through the discovery process in order to recover fair compensation amounts.
4. The Hartford
The Hartford Financial Services Group is commonly known as The Hartford. It is a Fortune 500 company and is the 12th biggest property and casualty insurance company in the U.S. When you report your accident to the company, the representative will try to get you to agree to sign an authorization to release your medical records. Do not sign this form and consult with an attorney. To recover the compensation that you should be entitled to receive, you will likely need the help of an experienced injury lawyer.
State Farm is another large insurance company that insures millions of people. If the at-fault driver has insurance through State Farm, your ability to settle the claim short of filing a lawsuit will depend on the adjuster who is assigned to your case. In many cases, it is possible to negotiate fair settlements without having to file a formal lawsuit with State Farm.
6. Liberty Mutual
Liberty Mutual is a global insurance company and is the fourth-largest in the U.S. The company is known for making unreasonably low offers and has lowered its settlement amounts consistently over the years. The American Association for Justice included Liberty Mutual in its list of the 10 worst insurance companies. To get a reasonable compensation amount from this company, you will likely need to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you with the negotiations. A lawsuit may be necessary to secure compensation in an amount that is fair.
USAA markets its insurance products to members of the military and to veterans. The company has received hundreds of negative reviews and can be tricky to deal with after an accident. It may be a good idea to talk to a lawyer before you talk to USAA. USAA is known for its slow processing of claims, and having an attorney might help you to get the company to process your claim faster.
8. Safeco Insurance
Safeco Insurance was purchased by Liberty Mutual and is a subsidiary of the larger company. Like Liberty Mutual, Safeco tends to make unreasonably low offers. However, it is often possible to negotiate settlements without having to go to trial. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to spur the company to action.
9. Farm Bureau
Farm Bureau Insurance of South Carolina insures many people within the state. Like other insurance companies, Farm Bureau is in the business of making profits instead of paying out on its claims. To recover a reasonable amount of compensation, you will likely need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with the claims negotiations process with Farm Bureau.