When dealing with an insurance company in the aftermath of a personal injury accident, it is important to be aware of both your rights as well as your obligations. Under the California Department of Insurance Fair Claims Settlement Practices, Section 2695.7.covers the Standards for Prompt, Fair and Equitable Settlements. Under this section, an insurance company is required by law to provide a reasonable investigation into your case, and to inform you within 40 if they are going to accept or deny your claim. If your claim has been accepted, you will be offered a settlement and asked to sign an insurance release, which releases the insurance company from any further obligation in in regards to your claim. Before signing an insurance release, make sure you have done the following:
- Make sure that if your claim took longer than 40 days, that you were notified of the delay by the insurance company.
- Rather than just looking at the total amount of the settlement you are offered, check to see what parts of your claim the insurance company has specifically denied or accepted. The insurance company is required to specifically state why they failed to accept any portion of your claim, and to justify any reductions in the amount of money they are paying in the claim.
- Be sure you have been informed of your right to have your claim reviewed by the California Department of Insurance if you are not satisfied with your settlement, or dispute any reasons the insurance company gives for not paying on any portion of your claim.
- Does your settlement offer seem unreasonably low? If it does, do not sign it, and report it to the department of Insurance.
- Take your time in signing your insurance release, and do not be pressured into signing it without consulting an attorney.
You have the right to have an experienced personal injury lawyer review your claim, the circumstances surrounding your accident, and your injuries to determine if the settlement you have been offered is enough to adequately compensate you for the injuries and damages you suffered. Remember, once you sign an insurance release, you no longer have the right to seek additional compensation from the insurance company. Most lawyers offer free consultations in personal injury matters. Be sure and get the compensation you deserve, and contact a personal injury lawyer today before accepting a settlement in your case.