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How a personal injury attorney can help with your own insurance company after an accident

By Ken Gibson on July 14, 2020

When we pay car insurance premiums, we expect our insurance company to have our backs if we are ever in an accident, especially if the other driver was at fault. But the truth is that car insurance companies are not charitable organizations; instead, they are focused on profits. To them, if they pay out every claim at maximum, they will experience lower profits that year. So, to keep their profits high and costs low, insurance companies will often devalue a claim, or outright reject it, even if a customer has a clear case for compensation.

If you have suffered because your own insurance company refused your claim, you may be wondering what you can do. Most people think they have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and deal with their costs out of pocket, but there is another way: contacting a personal injury attorney.

The role of car insurance in Virginia

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, typical auto insurance can include four different policies, each of which is relevant in a car accident:

General Liability: Liability insurance is the coverage provided to the other driver or pedestrians in an accident, meaning only other people can file a claim against it. Virginia law requires each driver to have at least $25,000 for bodily injuries per individual, $50,000 in total for bodily injuries, and $20,000 for property damage. Or, drivers can choose to pay a $500 fee to the DMV and drive without insurance.

Collision Coverage: This is commonly referred to as your personal auto insurance policy. It applies to your vehicle, whether you or a family member is driving. There is no legal requirement to have collision coverage, but you definitely want it to cover the costs of your car if it is ever totaled or seriously damaged.

Medical Payments General Coverage: Also referred to as “medpay,” this policy is designed to cover the cost of your injuries after an accident. It should work well with Collision Coverage to handle all aspects of your accident. It is also invaluable if you are filing a claim against an at-fault driver and need to pay your medical bills during the claims process.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM): Because Virginia allows drivers to pay a fee rather than getting liability insurance, there is a real possibility that you can be in a car accident with an uninsured driver. That’s why Virginia drivers who have insurance are also required to have UM coverage, which lets you to file against your own insurance company if the other driver is uninsured. In addition, UIM coverage will kick in if the other driver had the minimum policy, and your medical expenses and the total value of your case exceed that limit.

After an accident, each of these policies can play an important role in ensuring that your medical bills are paid, that the repair bills for your vehicle are covered, and that you can recover comfortably without worrying about paying your mortgage and putting food on your table. But that’s only if insurance companies are honest and fair.

What happens after a typical wreck

When you submit a claim against your collision coverage, UM/UIM, or medpay policy, your insurance company has three options: pay your claim in full, devalue your claim by offering a smaller amount of compensation than what your policy affords, or deny your claim altogether. The last two options are what is called bad faith insurance.

Some insurance companies will also take weeks or months to respond to a policy holder’s inquiries, or require excessive paperwork before they present a settlement offer. Others will try to discredit your medical report and ask you to see a specific doctor who may be more likely to devalue your injuries. All the while, you may be worried about paying your medical bills, repairing your vehicle, and trying to heal peacefully.

When insurance companies act in bad faith, auto accident victims can be left with few options about how to pay for much-needed medical treatment and cover the wages they lost while they were out of work recovering. This is where a personal injury attorney can step in.

The role of your attorney

Often, new clients come to us months after an accident because they are fed up with dealing with their insurance companies. We understand this frustration. Both my law partner, John Singleton, and I have firsthand experience handling our own car accident claims—and we have made the same mistakes as many other accident victims. But those experiences taught us the importance of letting a personal injury attorney handle a claim and taking the legal burden off the accident victim’s shoulders.

Now when a new client comes to us today, we know that our role is to advocate for the highest available settlement offer from an insurance company. We hold insurers to their contracts, and if they try to devalue your claim or deny it, we can take them to court.

How do we fulfill our role? Largely through research. We have years of experience reviewing auto insurance policies and determining what coverage applies to our clients’ situations. We also calculate the actual cost of an accident, including everything from the damage to your vehicle to your medical expenses, lost wages, and even the emotional trauma. If an insurance company offers a settlement you do not agree with, we can push back and demonstrate that they are legally required to pay a higher amount based on your policy coverage and the cost of the accident.

We can also help when an insurance company delays in providing a settlement offer. Insurance companies would prefer to settle all claims out of court at a minimal cost, which is why nine out of 10 cases never go to trial. That is why when an accident victim “lawyers up”—with a respected lawyer—insurance adjusters are more willing to respond to emails, provide timely claim updates, and propose a higher settlement offer.

We are here to help

No one wants the added stress of dealing with their own personal auto insurance policy on top of a case against the at-fault driver’s policy, especially when you’re trying to recover. Your focus should be on seeing your doctor, attending physical therapy and other medical appointments, as well as getting your vehicle repaired or replaced.  But to ensure you have the chance to heal peacefully, you may need the aid of an experienced and knowledgeable Virginia personal injury attorney.

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, you not only get such an attorney, but you also get a compassionate and thorough legal team who will work to make the process as easy as possible for you. We offer each potential client a free consultation—during which we sit down and discuss your case, your worries, and your fears about filing a claim. Our goal in this meeting is to put your mind at ease and provide all legal options available to you. If you choose to work with us, we handle all the legal duties of filing your claim—from collecting evidence to negotiating with insurance adjusters—all the while keeping you in the loop with consistent, reliable communication.

To get the ball rolling and learn how we can help you when your insurance company acts in bad faith, call us at (804) 413-6777 or toll-free at (855) 781-6777. There is no cost or obligation to sit down with us and have a chat.

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Community service

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.