What Can I Do if an Insurance Company Denies My Car Accident Claim?

What Can I Do if an Insurance Company Denies My Car Accident Claim?

You expect to receive some money for your accident-related losses when you submit a claim to an at-fault driver's insurance company.

Although it may take time for them to get back to you, you still expect a settlement after insurance companies review your submitted evidence showing their policyholder caused your accident and injuries.

You know you have a strong claim, so you never imagine the claim will get denied.

In reality, even if the insurer realizes you likely have a strong case, their attention turns to getting away with paying you the least possible amount of money for your injuries.

Sometimes, they deny your claim entirely upfront and refuse to offer you anything. Then, you must fight if you want any financial compensation.

If you receive a claim denial, consult a car accident lawyer before responding to the insurance company. You face time limits to appeal a denial, so never delay in finding a lawyer to help you.

The best way to decrease your chances of insurance companies denying your claim is to hire a car accident attorney to represent you from the very start.

Because car accident lawyers get paid on a contingency basis, they will only take your case if they think there is a substantial chance that you will receive payment for your injuries. They will assess if you have a valid claim, so you can feel confident from the start. They will then file a complete claim package with evidence, giving you the best chance of success.

Even if your lawyer files your claim, there is still a chance of an initial denial. Prepare yourself for the possibility and realize a denial is not the final say.

You Begin With the Insurance Companies, But They Are Not the End of the Line

Young driver on phone after car crash, seeking assistance or reporting the accident.

The insurance companies' denial is far from the end of the road in your car accident case. The claims process happens out of court and can resolve your claim more informally, without a judge or jury needing to decide your case. Even though it may take time, and you will have to battle insurance companies, you will still get compensation without the risk of a jury trial.

Many attorneys will advise their clients to begin by filing a claim against the other driver's insurance policy since it is the least painful route toward compensation. Unfortunately, everything in the legal process of car accidents presents challenges, with the insurance company serving as your adversary in every case.

If you go through the claims process, insurance companies will make an initial determination about whether they will accept liability in your case.

Your insurance company and that of the other driver may confer on liability and reach a joint decision. If they cannot agree, they may submit the case to arbitration, and an independent arbitrator may decide which driver was to blame for the accident.

How to Qualify for Compensation in a Car Accident

To receive financial compensation, you must prove that the other driver was negligent and caused your injuries. You are the one who must meet the burden of proof and come ready with evidence that shows what happened.

You must prove that:

  • The other driver owed you a duty of care.
  • They breached the duty of care by doing something unreasonable under the circumstances (such as making an illegal turn or rear-ending the car in front of them).
  • You suffered an injury.
  • You would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the other driver's actions.

The Other Driver May Tell a Completely Opposite Story

You may face the nightmare scenario of the dreaded truth contest. The other driver knows they can end up on the hook for your injuries and may tell an entirely different story than yours.

The problem is that the accident may boil down to your word versus the other driver's. Then, you will need something to break the tie. Otherwise, the insurance companies cannot determine if you should get any money.

When this happens, you will need evidence that backs up your side of the story and contradicts what the other driver says.

Why Insurance Companies May Deny Your Claim

One common reason an insurance company might deny your claim is because they are disputing their policyholder's liability. They may argue their insured driver was not at fault for the accident or that you were partially responsible for the collision. This tactic is often used to shift blame and reduce or avoid the amount they have to pay.

Another reason for denial is questioning the cause of your injuries. Insurance companies may argue that your injuries were pre-existing or unrelated to the accident. They might request extensive medical records and evidence to support your claim, making it difficult for you to obtain the compensation you deserve.

In some cases, an insurance company might claim that you have insufficient evidence to support your claim. They may argue that there is a lack of witness statements, police reports, or surveillance footage to support your version of events. This strategy is designed to discourage you from pursuing your claim further.

Insurance companies may simply employ bad-faith tactics to deny your claim. This includes delaying the claims process, offering lowball settlements, or using unethical practices to coerce you into accepting an unfair resolution. Recognizing these tactics and seeking legal representation can help protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

You Can Take Your Case to Court When Insurance Companies Deny Your Claim

If insurance companies deny your claim, you still have legal options, and your lawyer can continue negotiations to reach a solution. They can provide additional evidence that refutes what the insurance company has said or further backs up your side of the story.

Sometimes, your car accident attorney can convince the insurer to overturn the denial and reconsider your claim. Or, your attorney and the insurance company can settle on an agreement that assigns you a limited portion of the fault. A claim denial can be an invitation for further negotiations.

If you have a valid claim and the insurance company is wrongfully refusing to reconsider it, your lawyer can possibly file a lawsuit for bad-faith tactics. These lawsuits seek to hold companies liable for violating insurance laws and standards.

Thankfully, the legal system does not allow insurance companies to act unchecked. These for-profit companies only aim to make as much money as possible and cannot ultimately judge anything in your car accident claim.

The law treats them just like any other participant in the legal process, and since insurance companies have some sway in your case, the law even imposes certain obligations (such as the duty to act in good faith).

You May Even Sue Insurance Companies for a Wrongful Claim Denial

Suppose the insurance companies unreasonably deny your claim when you have presented more than sufficient evidence that they owe you money. In that case, they open themselves up to a lawsuit, where you can sue them directly.

Colleagues engaged in a discussion about work in a busy office environment.

Then, the insurance companies will need to pay you damages based on the harm their actions caused you. On the surface, insurance companies are well aware of this prospect. In practice, however, they often go right up to the limits of what they think they can get away with in responding to your claim.

Ultimately, your legal rights depend on establishing that the other driver was at fault for the accident, and insurance companies are not the only ones who can make that determination.

The courtroom is the place for your lawyer to present evidence and facts to the jury members. They will ultimately decide if the driver was responsible for your injuries, giving the insurance companies the legal responsibility to pay for what happened.

Why Insurance Companies Fear Litigation in Your Case

Thus, you will likely file a lawsuit against the responsible driver if the insurance company does not pay you anything.

Insurance companies live in fear of this prospect because they know that:

  • They will need to pay for a defense attorney. Unlike your lawyer, who works for you on a contingency basis, insurance companies must pay their attorney by the hour or per-case basis. They do not like to incur this expense, especially when they know that there is a chance that they may still have to pay you some money.
  • When a jury decides your case, insurance companies lose control over how much money you may get. A jury of people with human emotions may award you more money than the insurance company would have had to pay you in a settlement agreement. Further, if the driver ends up owing you money personally when the insurance company could have settled the case, they can even sue their own insurance company in a bad faith claim.

Hiring an Attorney Increases the Chances of Success in Your Case

There is no certainty in what insurance companies will do under any circumstances. Still, they are more likely to treat your claim more respectfully if they see that an experienced car accident lawyer represents you.

An attorney has the knowledge and skill to gather the evidence necessary to persuade them that they need to pay you something in the first place. Insurance companies also know they can take far fewer liberties with your case because your attorney will not hesitate to hold them responsible for bad conduct.

When they see you facing them alone, they think they can get away with far more because you may not know anything about the legal process.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Your Case

Even though you have suffered an injury, the legal process does not wait for you to heal. If you wait too long to take action, you can lose valuable time and the evidence you need to prove the other driver’s liability.

When you hire a car accident lawyer, they will immediately take steps to investigate what happened and gather the evidence necessary to show that someone owes you money.

Your car accident lawyer can do the following to help prove your legal entitlement to money:

  • Interview and speak with witnesses who saw what happened and can provide testimony in your case
  • Take pictures of the scene of the accident and review any evidence that you may already have in your possession
  • Investigate the accident to learn whether any other sources of evidence can help prove that the other driver was at fault
  • Review the police report for the accident and follow up on any leads 
  • Work with an accident reconstruction expert to recreate the crash, potentially proving that the other driver was at fault for the accident

Hire a Car Accident Attorney Right After Your Crash

Attorney Jordan Lulich
Jordan Lulich, Car Accident Attorney

You must hire a personal injury attorney right after your accident for them to be most effective. The days after the accident are crucial, especially when determining liability for the accident.

You cannot wait to hire an attorney because insurance companies will try to exploit you. If liability is a close call in your case, the other driver's insurance company may trick you into making a statement that will undercut your case and allow it to deny your claim entirely. Legal representation removes the risk of making a costly mistake with the insurance companies.

If you are afraid that you do not have the money to get legal help, the good news is that personal injury law has a unique system that makes it far easier to hire an attorney.

You hire your attorney on a contingency basis, meaning they only get money if you get a settlement or jury award. Then, your attorney gets paid a percentage of the proceeds of your case. Until then, you have no obligation to pay them, meaning you will not have to use your limited or nonexistent funds to pay for a car accident lawyer.