If you were injured in a car accident in Nebraska due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you’ve likely been told that you need to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance. But that can be a confusing process if you’re unsure of how it works. Unfortunately, not knowing how the process works can prevent you from getting the compensation you need for your recovery. Here is more information about dealing with the other party’s insurance company after a car accident.
Filing a Third-Party Claim
Nebraska residents have three options when seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident:
- File a claim with your own insurance company, if you have personal injury protection, uninsured/underinsured, or comprehensive and collision coverage.
- File a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
- File a personal injury lawsuit.
When you file a claim with another party’s car insurance company, it is known as a third-party claim. Esurance suggests that you have the following information available when you’re ready to file the claim.
- The at-fault party’s name and insurance policy number.
- A copy of the official accident report, which you can request from the police department that responded to the accident.
- The contact info of any injured passengers.
- Photos of the accident scene, including the damage to both vehicles, any visible injuries to you or your passengers, and photos that provide a glimpse of what the weather and traffic conditions at the scene were like.
- The contact information for your car repair shop.
- Details of your accident-related injuries, including dates of hospital or doctor’s visits, bills, and X-rays.
Be aware that once you have filed your claim, the insurance company will conduct their own investigation of the accident, including speaking to the at-fault driver to get their perspective on how the accident occurs. If your injuries are particularly serious, it is strongly recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney before even speaking to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
After you’ve filed a claim, the insurance company must either accept your claim or deny it. If your claim is denied, the company must explain to you why. Insurance companies deny claims for a number of reasons, so be sure to read the reason for the denial and know that you have the right to dispute the denial.
Negotiating a Settlement
Be aware that insurance companies are in the business to make money. One of the ways they do that is by avoiding having to pay big settlements. It is not at all uncommon for accident victims to receive quick, lowball settlement offers. If you are offered a settlement, it is often best to speak to an experienced car accident attorney who can help you determine the value of your case and whether the offered amount is enough to cover your damages. Some considerations that affect the value of the case include:
- The severity of your injuries and your long-term prognosis.
- Future medical treatment for your accident-related injuries, including surgeries and physical rehabilitation.
- The wages that you lost due to missed work because of your injuries.
- Lost future earning potential if your injuries have rendered you unable to perform the work-related tasks you were required to perform before the accident.
- Your emotional pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life, due to the injuries you sustained.
- Damage to your car.
Remain cautious when providing an official statement to the insurance company or agreeing to sign any agreement without consulting a lawyer who can provide guidance and even advocate on your behalf.
Things to Do While You’re Waiting for a Settlement Offer
While you’re waiting for a settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurance company, there are a few things you can do to keep your case moving forward, including:
- Avoid posting about your accident on social media. Understand that the other insurance company may be watching your social media accounts, looking for reasons to deny your claim. Some of those reasons include seeing you make statements about the accident or your injuries that are contrary to the details that have been submitted in the claim.
- Keep a journal that includes important details that may be needed if you have to later file a lawsuit in order to receive compensation. The type of information you should journal are the dates of appointments with medical and other professionals related directly to your injuries. Also keep a record of how your recovery is going and how the injuries have impacted your life.
If the Negotiation Fails
If the other party’s insurance company fails to provide you a fair settlement, you have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit in order to seek the compensation. Here are some of the highlights of that process:
- The statute of limitations to file a personal injury and property damage lawsuit is four years from the date of the accident. If the lawsuit is not filed by that date, then the court may deny a hearing and you may be barred from receiving compensation.
- Nebraska follows a modified comparative negligence rule. Also known as the 50 Percent Bar Rule, this means that you can seek recovery of damages even if you were partially at-fault, as long as your fault in the accident is not over 49 percent. However, if it is found that you were partly at fault, a percentage will be assigned to your fault and your damages will be reduced by that percentage. For example, if you had 10 percent responsibility for the accident, then the damage reward you receive will be reduced by 10 percent.
Let Us Help With Your Car Accident Claim
An experienced personal injury lawyer doesn’t just help if your case goes to trial. In fact, the vast majority of personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial. At The Robert Pahlke Law Group, our attorneys are happy to begin providing guidance to our clients immediately after the accident has occurred and before a third-party insurance claim is even filed. We can use our knowledge of personal injury cases and our skill as negotiators to argue on your behalf for the highest amount of compensation possible. Let us help you understand your legal options. To schedule your free consultation, contact Pahlke Law online or by calling (308) 633-4444.