When to Contact an Attorney Regarding Your Insurance Claim
Hundreds of people file insurance claims every day in Texas. It can be difficult for many of these individuals to know when or if they should hire an attorney.
Should You Contact an Attorney Before You File an Insurance Claim in Houston?
It is always a good idea to consult with an attorney if you have a potential insurance claim. Initial consultations at most law firms, including the Paxton Law Firm, are free, so there is no downside to an initial meeting.
During the consultation, the attorney can review the facts and determine if the claim is worth pursuing. In some small, run-of-mills claims, the attorney may advise you to file the claim on your own. For example, if you were involved in a fender bender with no injuries and minor damage, you can usually handle the claim through insurance without any issue.
If you have a viable insurance claim, there are several benefits to involving an attorney early in the claims process. Like any other business, the goal of insurance companies is to make money. They will look for reasons and excuses to avoid paying the true value of your claim. There is a much higher chance that the insurance company will initially approve your claim if an attorney represents you. A qualified insurance claim attorney will:
• Recognize Low-Ball Offers. Offering a quick, low-ball offer is a common tactic of car insurance companies. They hope that a claimant will accept the first offer without realizing the true value of their claim. Insurance companies are much less likely to propose a low-ball offer if the claimant is represented. If you receive a settlement offer, your attorney can review it and let you know if it is fair and should be accepted.
• Communicate Directly with the Insurance Company. Your attorney can communicate and negotiate directly with the insurance company. They are trained in dealing with insurance companies and recognizing their tactics to avoid paying out claims. If you are unrepresented, an insurance company may use innocent-sounding questions to gather the information that will hurt your case.
• Gather Evidence. Your attorney will work to gather evidence and documentation to support your claim. Insufficient documentation is the leading cause of claim denials and a common mistake of unrepresented claimants.
Although it is generally best to work with an attorney before you file your claim, you can consult with an attorney at any point throughout the claims process. Sometimes there are situations where it is particularly important to hire an attorney, including:
• Claims Where You and the Insurance Company Disagree. If disputes arise during the claims process or the insurance adjuster starts acting cagey or uncommunicative, you should immediately contact an attorney. You should also reach out to a lawyer if the insurance company gets its own attorneys involved.
• Complex Claims. You should contact an attorney if your claim is complex (i.e., a death occurred, pedestrians were involved, or you or the other driver do not have insurance).
• Large Claims. It is worth it to hire an attorney if your claim is large. A claim is large if it:
o Caused significant house damage after a hurricane or fire;
o Resulted in hospitalization;
o Caused you to miss work or school;
o Resulted in lost income; or
o Resulted in extensive medical bills.
• Claims Where Fault is Difficult to Establish. You should involve an attorney if the fault is contested or difficult to prove.
Examples of situations where the fault is difficult to establish include if the police report inaccurately describes the accident, there is a discrepancy between witnesses or insufficient evidence. Sometimes, insurance companies will deny uncomplicated claims if the claimants are unrepresented because they assume that many claimants will just walk away instead of fighting.
In addition to assisting throughout the initial claims process, an attorney is essential if your claim is denied, and you decide to appeal. The appeals process is complex, and your attorney will engage in discovery, ensure all filing deadlines are met, participate in settlement negotiations, and file a lawsuit if necessary.
If you have questions about an insurance claim, call the Paxton Law Firm. Let us review your case and advise you of your rights. The Paxton Law Firm believes in taking the stress of dealing with your insurance claims and turning a negative situation into the best possible outcome lady justice allows. We offer free consultations, and you do not pay any legal fees until we recover for you.
Do you believe you have a case? Understand that time is of the essence in getting you the justice you deserve! We would love to hear from you.