How Can I Settle an Insurance Claim Without a Lawyer?
After getting into a car accident, you might wonder how you can settlement your insurance claim without having to hire a lawyer. The answer to this quandary will depend on the details of your accident. While handling a claim yourself is rarely recommended, it’s always an option.
The one thing we’ll stress before getting into the details is this: be careful. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses looking to reduce their costs as much as possible. Even if an insurance adjuster makes you feel comfortable with the process, they are not on your side.
As you navigate this process, remember that it’s important to protect your rights and not take lawyer-free action without careful consideration.
Top Four Mistakes People Make When Settling an Insurance Claim Without a Lawyer
First, let’s look at some of the ways handling your own claim can go wrong. We have, sadly, seen too many injury victims try to settle alone and get left with the short end of the stick. If you were involved in an accident with many damages, this can be incredibly devastating.
Here are some common mistakes to be aware of if you try to represent yourself.
1. Not Providing Thorough Documentation
To have a successful claim, you’ll need to show that:
- The other party was negligent.
- The negligence caused your injury.
- The at-fault party is responsible for your damages.
You will need to back up these claims with documentation like medical records, bills, pay stubs, and other proof of your damages. The insurance company should also be looking for this type of documentation.
If they offer you a settlement without seeing much supportive evidence, it’s a sign that they are offering a lowball amount to try to settle quickly. This can leave you with many costs that are never addressed — and left as your responsibility.
2. Settling Too Soon (and for Too Little Money)
The at-fault party’s insurance company will likely reach out to you soon after your accident. They might make it easy to move the case forward and accept a quick settlement — but this is unwise.
Sure, you could accept what the insurance company offers and not worry about lawyer fees. However, keep in mind that you might be able to get two, three, or even four or five times the amount of money with help from an experienced lawyer. Even with the fee, that would provide you with a settlement that actually covers all of your damages.
If you plan to handle your case alone, be ready to gather evidence and take the time to consider your damages before accepting a settlement offer too quickly or for a too-low amount.
3. Not Negotiating Aggressively Enough
Chances are high that you will need to negotiate your claim to get a fair settlement. The best way to do that successfully is by being aggressive and confident in your rights. You’ll want to read up on Texas laws and approach your case from a knowledgeable perspective.
Insurance adjusters are very skilled at looking for ways to reduce the value of claims, so be ready to be aggressive.
4. Failing to Account for All Damages
Once you sign the release and accept a settlement offer, it typically means you’re accepting that settlement as compensation for all damages from the accident.
If you find out about further costs after the fact, you probably will not have a way to recover them. Be sure you know the full extent of your damages, including medical costs, lost wages, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering, before settling.
The Process for Settling an Insurance Claim Without Hiring a Lawyer
Before an insurance adjuster will accept a claim, they must see proof that their policyholder caused the accident and your injuries. So, before a settlement is even discussed, you’ll need to do the following.
While you might be able to build your own case after a minor car accident with minor injuries or just property damage, we highly recommend working with a lawyer if you have serious damages.
Gathering Evidence at the Scene
Right after the accident happens, gather evidence at the scene like:
- Pictures of your injuries, property damage, and the entire accident scene
- Full names, driver’s license numbers, contact information, and insurance information for all drivers
- Contact information for eyewitnesses
- A copy of the police report
After a car accident with injuries or significant property damage in Texas, you should also call the police to report the accident right away (Texas Transportation Code section 550.021). This is what will lead officers to create a police report, which is vital for your case.
Also, be sure to get medical attention at the scene or as soon as you leave the scene. If you wait to get medical treatment, the insurance company will try to use that delay against you.
Gathering Further Evidence
It’s best to avoid seeking a settlement until you’ve completely recovered from your injuries. This will let you know how much your medical damages will be. Keep an organized folder with evidence like:
- Copies of your medical records
- Your medical bills
- Doctor notes
- Evidence gathered at the scene
- Receipts for other expenses
- Proof of lost wages
- The police report
Calculating Your Total Damages
Determining the full value of your damages can be very complicated. There are two main types of personal injury damages from a car accident:
- Economic damages that can be calculated exactly, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage
- Non-economic damages that do not have clear dollar amounts, such as mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and physical or emotional pain and suffering
If you have significant damages, especially non-economic damages, we urge you to at least speak with an insurance claims lawyer about your case. It can be difficult to handle your case alone if your settlement needs to account for serious losses.
To get a FREE consultation with an attorney who will not charge you a fee unless they win your case, call our Dallas car accident lawyers at (214) 305-8277 or contact us online today.
Sending the Demand Letter
Once you have a full calculation of your damages and have investigated the other party’s fault, a demand letter will need to be sent to the insurance company. This letter will show:
- Why the insurer is liable for your injuries
- The full extent of your damages
- How your damages result from the accident
- An outline of all your costs from the accident.
Negotiating the Settlement Offer
Remember, insurance adjusters as very skilled at handling insurance claims. They might try to deny your claim or offer you a lowball settlement. You will need to be prepared to handle the insurance adjuster and negotiate for a settlement that is fair to you.
Talk to a Dallas Insurance Claims Lawyer for Free Today
Settling an insurance claim alone is complicated. While it’s completely in your right to do so, if you feel like you could use some help, reach out to an insurance claims lawyer. Most lawyers who handle injury claims do not collect a fee from you unless they are able to win you a settlement, so there’s no risk in working with them.
Our firm always works on contingency (no fee unless we win for you), and we start with a FREE consultation so you can discuss your case with us and get your questions answered. We know what it takes to win.
To schedule your FREE, no-risk consultation, call us at (214) 305-8277 or contact us online.