If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident caused by a negligent party, you should file a personal injury claim. In most cases, that is easier said than done. Although the insurance adjusters might look like they want to assist, their initial compensation offers are low and cannot cover the total costs of losses incurred.
Also, the insurance provider will work to either delay, deny you, or minimize your claim. Because dealing with insurance companies is challenging, you need a lawyer who has your best interests at heart. At the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we can stand with you throughout the process and answer your questions.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Most pedestrian accident victims think that they can handle the accident claim on their own, particularly if they didn't sustain severe injuries. Nevertheless, an insurance adjuster represents the financial interest of the insurance provider and tries to deny claims. When it comes to a case that requires payment from the insurer, a low settlement offer might be made. Even if dealing with your insurer, the adjuster will not care about your best interests. Insurers use formulas during liability determination and whether to compensate instead of analyzing the specific case circumstances.
Your personal injury attorney has many responsibilities when representing you. They will:
Inform you about your rights
Advise you on what steps to take
Handle all communications with the insurance provider
That way, you can be assured the legal expert will pursue fair and full compensation.
Inform Your Insurance Company and Cooperate
Just because you are not at-fault does not necessarily imply the defendant's insurer will agree with you. That is where your insurer could step in and pay your damages depending on your insurance coverage.
Notifying the insurance firm is even more essential if the motorist does not have an auto-coverage at all. Depending on your policy details, you might have the right to compensation from your insurer under uninsured motorist coverage.
If you should bring an insurance claim with your insurance company, the policy might require you to cooperate with the investigation. It also requires you to tell the pedestrian accident's insurer within a reasonable time following the accident. Your experienced attorney should advise you accordingly. The insurer might ask for a recorded statement, and your lawyer should be present when providing the statement or advice on this.
When contacting your insurance provider, be ready to provide the information below:
Date, location, and time of your accident
The law enforcement agency responding to your pedestrian accident
Name and contact information of those involved in your accident.
Insurance information for other parties
Do You Have to Speak With the Defendant's Insurance Firm Following the Accident?
The answer depends on the accident's facts. Generally, you aren't lawfully required to speak with the defendant's insurance company. Additionally, you are not supposed to talk to the insurance company if you have an insurance adjuster from your insurer or personal injury attorney who can represent you.
It is wise to talk to the defendant's insurance firm if the defendant is at fault, but has refused to contact, or has lied to their insurer. In this case, the insurer might not have an idea who is accountable and does not know the degree of your injuries. If you fail to speak with the insurance firm, it might take time before receiving compensation, if any.
Practical Tips When Speaking with the Defendant's Insurer
Ideally, your personal injury attorney should speak with the insurance provider, but this is not always possible. As a result, you should be cautious about what you say. Here are tips to use:
Don't give more information.
Do not agree to provide a recorded statement, whether in writing or on the phone.
Do not speculate or guess what occurred. If you do not know, it is okay to say that.
If you want to give more than just objective accident information (beyond the date and location of the pedestrian accident, law enforcement officer who came to the accident scene, and witnesses' name), ask to have your attorney and have the attorney speak with the insurance provider. Getting legal assistance might assist stop you from accidentally saying more than you ought to or saying the wrong things.
Things to Know Before Signing a Pedestrian Accident Settlement Agreement
A settlement agreement is a contract. When your pedestrian accident case settles, usually both sides sign a settlement agreement stating what you have agreed upon. The settlement agreement states the amount the defendant compensates you and the right you have given up by accepting the compensation. However, in most cases, a settlement agreement is complicated.
Discussed below are what you should know about the settlement agreement.
Ensure You Know What You Are Signing
A compensation agreement is a legal document, and it could be intimidating. As a result, you might feel it is not essential to read it if you cannot understand it. Nevertheless, you might comprehend more of the agreement than you might think, especially essential terms like the total compensation amount and settlement payment details.
Moreover, do not take the insurance adjuster’s words as to the conditions of the settlement agreement. Ensure you confirm yourself. That way, you avoid any misunderstandings.
Ensure the Compensation Amount Covers All Your Damages and Injuries
Because you are okay and the settlement fully pays your medical expenses, that does not mean you've been compensated fully. Most injuries from accidents are not discovered until sometime following the accident. The last thing you want to do is agree to a compensation amount of twenty thousand dollars and later find out that you require an additional ten thousand dollars in treatment for an injury whose symptoms have recently manifested. Remember, you cannot receive anything from the defendant or their insurance company after signing the agreement.
Have Your Personal Injury Lawyer Review the Agreement
Your competent lawyer will explain what is in agreement and answer all your questions. They will also help you know the constitutional rights you do not know will vanish after signing the agreement.
Assume you have confirmed with a physician that the compensation amount is adequate for medical expenses. However, you might have claims for other damages that you could have not considered or overlooked, like emotional distress or lost income. You will not know unless your attorney reviews the agreement and asks you the right queries.
Determine If Any Other Person Could be Accountable for Your Accident
This is a frequent bone of contention when at least one person is accountable for the crash. For instance, you have an agreement that applies to a bus driver who injured you. The compensation amount is not adequate to compensate you entirely, but you aren't sure if you ought to refuse to take the offer and bring a claim to try to receive the compensation you deserve. If you learn you have a legal claim against another defendant, you could be more willing to sign the release.
File Your Claim in Time
Do not wait to learn your entitlement to compensation. Like most states, California limits the duration you have to seek compensation from the negligent party through its statute of limitations.
Per the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1, you have two years from the accident's date to file a personal injury claim. If you lost a loved one due to the pedestrian accident, you should file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party within two years. However, the difference, in this case, the difference is that the clock begins ticking on the victim's da
If you attempt filing a claim after the statute of limitations time frame has expired, both the insurance company and the court will dismiss your claim based on the late filing. After the court dismisses the case, you're barred from recovering compensation for your injury, notwithstanding:
The strength of the case
Engaging a seasoned attorney immediately after the accident is the most effective method to ensure you do not run into timing issues and miss getting the compensation you deserve.
Identifying Bad Faith Practices
An insurance company will process your pedestrian accident claim for negotiations. That means the insurer is legally supposed to act in good faith.
Good faith means fair and honest dealing for the concerns that arise. When bad faith is initiated, you have a right to file a lawsuit against the insurance provider.
Bad faith can be seen in numerous ways, including:
Payment denial or discounting the payment which ought to be made on a claim without a reasonable basis
Offering a low offer that isn't supported by accident facts
Failing to deny or confirm coverage of specific claim in the required timeframe
Ignore your emails, letters or calls made concerning a valid accident claim which requires payment.
Use of abusive and intimidating words or conduct against you
Document your communications with the insurer; it will help cope with the bad faith practices. It includes all communication via written letters, emails, and phone. A description should be recorded if bad faith is shown. If the insurance adjuster's actions are taken, a written document must be asked for the reasons of the conduct. If the insurance adjuster denies this, a request must be sent to the insurer via certified mail with a return receipt requested.
If you believe the insurer has acted in bad faith, it is essential to bring a report with the California Department of Insurance. If the state insurance board finds evidence that the insurer behaved in this manner, the insurer will be penalized.
Social Media Can Ruin the Personal Injury Claim
Probably you have heard the statement, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law" in movies. Well, the same holds on social media.
After you file your claim, the insurance provider or the defendant's attorney will look for your social media platforms for posts that can be damaging or harmful to the case.
Here are ways to stop weakening the case through social media use:
Set your Account to Private
The wisest thing to do is stop using social media platforms altogether when your case is ongoing. Making the accounts private does not guarantee that the insurer cannot view the accounts, but limits the possibility.
Avoid Discussing the Case Online
After setting the accounts private, the next thing involves avoiding discussing the pedestrian accident online. Even innocent statements might be used against you. Instead of attempting to understand how your post could be used against you, it is wise to stop posting about the case.
Remember to caution your loved ones to stop posting about the accident or even tagging you in photos or posts while the case is ongoing. You should also avoid posting anything associated with physical travel or activity.
Remember Everything Digital Can be Retrieved
Do not post anything about the accident and think you can delete it after filing a claim. Erased information online does not disappear for good. All digital forms of communication can be retrieved, including text messages and emails that can be subpoenaed from your email or telephone provider.
Document the Necessary Evidence
If you are hurt in a pedestrian accident, you should hold the responsible person accountable for the losses. However, this isn't easy and involves more than filing a personal injury claim with the insurance firm. You should establish the entitlement to compensation. How do you achieve this? Here are the pieces of evidence you might require to establish your claim:
Photos: An image can speak a thousand words. Taking pictures of the accident scene, road conditions, skid marks, and weather conditions can vividly depict what took place. Moreover, photos of the injuries can assist in establishing the relationship between your injuries and the accident.
Police report: Although a police report is not admissible in a court of law, it might convince the insurance provider of the at-fault party's liability. It could also result in essential information such as contact details of witnesses.
Black box: If the defendant's motor vehicle is equipped with a black box, look for information like the car's speed, steering, braking before your collision.
Clothing: You should keep the clothes you were putting on during the accident. Bloodied or torn clothes can be proof that the accident indeed occurred.
Witness statement: Testimonies from witnesses can assist in substantiating the defendant's negligence.
Accident reconstruction experts: If the cause of your pedestrian collision is in dispute, you require an accident reconstruction expert to analyze the scene of the accident and evidence. It could assist explain the series of events and convince the insurance company to settle the claim.
Medical practitioner: You will require a doctor who can report injuries, the required treatment, future medical treatment needs, and prognosis. The report proves the level of your injuries and the fair compensation amount.
Medical expenses: You should preserve all medical bills to prove the total cost of treatment received. Remember to keep receipts for assistive tools, medications, and transportation expenses to visit a physician.
Pay stubs and tax returns: You should provide income tax returns and pay stubs to prove the total income lost. You can also submit statements from your boss to show other financial losses like vacation and sick days, overtime pay, commissions, and promotion opportunities.
Do Not Take the Initial Offer
If you are expecting compensation following an accident, don't be surprised if the initial amount offered is less than you expected. Most insurance providers make a low initial settlement offer hoping that you will accept it. Also, most accident victims struggle financially and are willing to take whatever amount they are offered, even if it is low.
In the demand letter, you must have a figure that you think the claim is worth. Within the range and before speaking to the insurance adjuster about the demand, decide on the least settlement figure you can take. The amount is for your information and not anything you ought to tell the insurance adjuster.
When you realize that the initial compensation offer is too low, you should engage an attorney immediately. The attorney will assist you in calculating the compensation, including non-economic and economic damages. They will also include everything from the future and present medical bills to pain and suffering to lost income and lost earning capacity due to the accident. Moreover, they will make sure you understand your compensation rights and don't leave essential elements in the calculations.
Ask the insurance company to provide you with reasons why their offer is low and take notes of the reply. Then write a letter responding to all factors mentioned. Hinging on the strengths of the reasons outlined, you can slightly reduce your demand amount.
When you talk to the adjuster next, start by asking for a response to your reply letter. The insurance company should now give you a realistic offer to bargain and reach a just settlement amount.
During the negotiations, do not discuss all the accident facts again. Instead, emphasize the strong points in your favor like the permanent or long-term effects of your injuries. Remember to mention emotional facts supporting the claim like loss of consortium and pain and suffering.
What Not to Say to the Insurance Provider Following the Pedestrian Accident
When dealing with an insurance company, your conversations should be strategic. Here are what to avoid saying:
It was My Fault
Do not admit fault or even say, "I'm sorry." When describing your accident, do it a manner that does not include your personal opinions. Insurance providers can work it out between themselves who is accountable for the collision. There are many factors involved that you do not know like faulty car parts, traffic signals that are hard to see, or a distracted motorist. Even if you are accountable, the other motorist could also be responsible. Do not admit fault in front of the insurance adjuster, other parties involved in the accident, or police.
Admitting fault could lead to loss of the right to compensation. If it is determined that you are partially accountable, you are still entitled to compensation. However, California uses a comparative negligence rule, and the percentage of your responsibility will reduce your total compensation amount.
If the other party involved in the accident blames you for the accident, let them. They have to prove that your negligence caused the accident that led to your injuries. Without the lawfully required evidence, the person is wasting their time.
Names of Others
Always stick to the basics when dealing with the insurance company. Do not give the names of your friends, family members, or physician. If you end up in trial, you might be asked to provide information about what you told them and their contact details.
I Do Not Have an Attorney
When you engage the services of a seasoned personal injury attorney, the insurer will give the claim more attention and respect.
If you don't know a factual answer to give, it is okay to say that you do not know. Do not opine or estimate an answer.
It is My Official Statement
Do not give a recorded official statement unless advised by your attorney. As previously mentioned, you are not legally required to have the statement recorded. Whatever you say could be taken out of context by the insurer until it serves their objective.
I'm Not Injured
Do not make declarations that you are not sure whether they are correct. Although some injuries are apparent immediately after the accident, most aren't. Injuries like internal bleeding, traumatic brain injury, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, or bruises might take time before manifesting. Therefore, do not sign any medical release from the insurer until your attorney advises you appropriately.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Although insurance coverage should offer protection against damages and injuries after a road accident, that is not always the case. More often than not, insurance companies deny the claim, offer very low compensation, or look for loopholes in your case and challenge your claim in court. The dedicated legal team at the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney understands the frustration you could experience when dealing with insurance companies. Call us now at 714-876-1959 to book your initial consultation.