Car accidents happen on Florida roadways every day. In fact, Florida roadways are ranked the third most dangerous in the U.S.
With so many accidents occurring on Florida roadways, it may not be a case of “if” an accident happens but “when.” If you are involved in an accident and want to recover compensation for your damages and injuries, you (usually) must deal with an insurance company. It may be your own insurance company or the other drivers.
When a car accident claim is filed, your case is given to an insurance adjuster. You must understand their responsibilities after a car accident, so you know what to expect and how to ensure you receive sufficient compensation for your losses.
Because dealing with insurance companies can be challenging, hiring a Florida accident attorney from Zimmet & Zimmet is highly recommended. Our legal team can help you navigate the car accident claims process and deal with insurance adjusters who may not have your best interests in mind.
Here you can learn more about the proof of damages insurance adjusters look for when investigating an accident. You can also speak to a personal injury attorney if you have questions about this process.
What’s an Insurance Adjuster’s Role After a Car Accident Claim Is Filed?
The role of the insurance adjuster is to investigate car accidents, determine who is liable, calculate the value of a claim, and negotiate a fair settlement offer.
After your car accident claim is given to an adjuster, they will begin working on your case. It’s important to remember that most adjusters are employees of the insurance company they represent. What they earn (paychecks and bonuses) depends on how well they do their job. Part of an insurance adjuster’s job is to protect the company from any significant loss.
There are other types of insurance adjusters, too – including public and independent. In most traffic accident cases, you won’t deal with these types of adjusters (in most cases).
After the accident, the adjuster will start to evaluate your claim. The adjuster will likely interview you, and they will do the same with the other driver. Because you may incriminate yourself for the accident and possibly release the company from liability, it’s smart to have an injury attorney present whenever you talk to an insurance adjuster.
If there were witnesses to your accident, the insurance adjuster might also request an interview with them. Along with interviewing everyone involved in the accident or who saw the accident, the adjuster will collect medical records, police reports, damage and injury photos, and accident reports. All this evidence is then evaluated and studied so the insurance adjuster can decide who is liable.
If liability is unknown, the adjuster may take the case to their supervisor, who can assist with this process and help make a final decision.
While the insurance adjuster will use the evidence to determine liability in the accident, they will also examine the damage to your vehicle. Investigating what damage is present will help them determine how much they are owed. Usually, determining the value of vehicle damage requires the adjuster to conduct a visual inspection and get an estimate from a mechanic or repair shop.
What Insurance Adjusters Consider When Valuing a Car Accident Claim
Determining the value of a car accident claim is a complex process. The insurance adjuster assigned to your case will examine and consider several factors. Some of the most common include the costs you incurred due to the accident, your lost income, pain and suffering, and other effects caused by the damage and injuries you experienced. These are the “damages” of your case.
Besides damages, the adjuster will look at the policy limit and how strong your claim is. An accident injury attorney can help you strengthen your car accident claim by presenting proof and a convincing argument regarding your injuries and losses.
It’s important to note that insurance adjusters won’t pay more than the maximum amount of the insurance policy the claim was filed against. For example, suppose the limit of the auto insurance policy is $50,000, and you experienced significant damages and severe injuries. In that case, it will likely be necessary to hire an accident lawyer to help you file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to compensate for the damages that exceed the policy limit.
Building a Strong Car Accident Claim
When it comes to your car accident claim strength, it’s more likely that an insurance adjuster will offer you a settlement if proper and adequate evidence is present. An example would be if you were struck by a drunk driver who sped through a red light. In these cases, liability isn’t murky. However, determining liability is more challenging if you and another vehicle struck one another at an intersection in rush hour traffic.
If the settlement offer made by the insurance adjuster isn’t adequate, your accident injury lawyer can negotiate to increase the amount. They can also review your legal rights and options in this situation.
The Impact of Comparative Negligence on Your Car Accident Claim
In the state of Florida, there is a comparative negligence rule. This rule may result in reduced compensation if it is determined that you were partially at fault for the accident.
The general rule is that your percentage of fault is what your damages award is reduced by. Because Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, it’s possible to recover some compensation, no matter your level of fault.
For example, if you experienced $100,000 in damages in a car accident but are 80% at fault for the collision, you can still recover damages of $20,000. Your accident attorney can provide more information about this law and its impact on your case.
Times When an Adjuster Will Conduct a Secondary or More Extensive Investigation into Car Accident Caused Damages
No matter if you hire a car accident or motorcycle accident attorney to help with your case, there are some situations to understand.
For example, there are situations where the insurance adjuster may conduct a more thorough or extensive investigation into your car accident. This is done if a fraudulent claim is suspected. If this happens, the adjuster will try to find information or evidence that provides a motive to commit fraud. Sometimes, this is a stretch and an effort to avoid paying out on the claim.
For example, the adjuster will investigate your financial status to see if there are any issues like bankruptcy filings or liens against your property. They could also look at your presence on social media platforms to see if what you told them is true.
If your car accident claim includes a significant medical bill for an injured leg or shoulder, but a few days after your accident, you post a video on social media of you playing basketball, the adjuster will likely suspect fraud. Another situation is if the documentation of the accident states it happened on a specific date, but on social media, you “checked in” on a cruise.
It’s more common than ever before for insurance adjusters to request claimant’s cellphone records today. This is particularly helpful when determining liability in a car accident case. Phone use is a serious cause of distraction and an element in many car accidents in Florida. Your phone records can disprove or confirm that you were on your device when the accident occurred.
Due to the seriousness of fraud accusations, it’s important to have an experienced and reputable car or motorcycle accident lawyer helping with your case.
Your Rights and Responsibilities During an Insurance Company’s Investigation of Your Car Accident Claim
During the investigation process, you are under no legal obligation to provide the information the insurance company has requested. Unless your claim has moved forward to the lawsuit stage and there’s a court order requiring it, the insurance company has no way to make you provide the information they request.
However, it’s not smart to ignore the investigation by the claims adjuster. If you don’t cooperate, it may impact your settlement offer significantly.
Get Help with Your Car Accident Claim
After a Florida car accident, having an attorney representing your interests is recommended if you plan to seek damages for your injuries and losses. At Zimmet & Zimmet, our attorneys have years of experience helping accident victims like you. We can review the facts of your case and help ensure the insurance company makes a fair settlement offer. Call today to schedule a free consultation and to discuss your claim.