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Personal Injury Lawyer
Vancouver & Southwest Washington

Dealing With Car Insurance Companies in Vancouver, WA

Attorney Colin Scott helps victims of car accidents recover compensation

When you've been in a car accident, you will likely have to deal with an insurance company to resolve your claim. Many people dread this experience, and with good reason. Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with and they don't have your best interests in mind. The Scott Law Firm, PLLC helps people deal with insurance companies to get the compensation they deserve.

The process of filing a claim for compensation can be confusing and frustrating. Insurance companies are mainly interested in keeping their profits high. That's why they often try to keep their payments low. They may dispute your claim or suggest that you were somehow to blame for the accident. They may attempt to minimize your injuries. They may encourage you to accept a quick, low-ball offer. Car accident attorney Colin Scott can fight for your rights.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents and Insurance Companies

Dealing with insurance companies can leave you with more questions than answers. That's why you need a car accident attorney who knows the tactics used by insurance companies and how to overcome them. Contact us online or call 360-718-3640 to schedule a free consultation. Colin can answer your questions and explain your options.

When is the right time to talk about a settlement with the insurance company?

All too often, people make the mistake of settling their car accident claim too soon. In order to fully evaluate your losses, it's necessary to have a complete understanding of the nature and extent of your physical and emotional injuries. It is not possible to determine this until your medical condition stabilizes and you have reached what is referred to as "maximum medical improvement." Therefore, it is generally advisable to wait until after you are finished being treated before engaging in settlement negotiations with the insurance company - so long as your time in which to do so lies well within the applicable statute of limitations. (Which is why you should never wait to speak with a qualified car accident attorney!)

It is also generally unwise to engage in settlement discussions until a thorough investigation has been performed. This can include identifying all the parties who are potentially responsible for causing your injuries, assessing theories of liability, and amassing all the required evidence in your case that is needed to make a settlement demand and/or file a lawsuit. This takes time, money, and legal expertise-resources that are mostly not available to the average person who is trying to resolve an auto accident claim on their own. Therefore, it can be extremely beneficial to hire an attorney who is qualified to handle these matters for you, which will allow you to focus on getting the treatment you need to reach maximum medical improvement.

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Should I accept a settlement offer from the insurance company?

It is important to remember insurance companies have interests that are opposite yours and they will try to settle your claim for as little as possible. Insurance companies also have the advantage of employing hundreds and even thousands of defense lawyers who work for them day and night. Having an attorney at your side can help level the playing field and significantly improve the odds of obtaining a successful result in your auto accident case.

For all of these reasons it is generally a good idea to discuss your auto accident case with an attorney before attempting to settle your claim on your own. Our firm offers free consultations and will be happy to speak with you about your personal injury claim at no cost. To receive a free consultation with Vancouver, WA accident attorney Colin Scott, contact The Scott Law Firm, PLLC today!

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How do I get my vehicle repaired?

First Option: Make a claim with the other driver's insurance company. If you choose this option, the first thing you will need to do is contact the other driver's insurance company. The insurance company will then set up a claim number and assign an adjuster to the claim. After the claim has been set up, you will need to wait for the insurance company to complete their investigation and determine whether they will accept or deny your claim (usually this must be completed within 30 days).

Second Option: If the other driver wasn't insured, their insurance company is taking too long to resolve your claim, or you would simply prefer to deal with your own insurance company (which can be to your advantage in some situations following an auto accident), you can opt to get your vehicle repaired using your own insurance company. The first thing you will need to do is contact your insurance company and confirm you have first party collision coverage, then pay your deductible. Also be sure to ask your insurance company whether you have rental car coverage on your policy and, if so, how long they will pay for you to use a rental car following an auto accident. After you have completed these steps and your vehicle is repaired, you may then seek to recover the expense of your deductible from the other driver's insurance company plus any rental car expenses you incurred.

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Do I have to use the insurance company's "approved" auto repair shop?

No. If your claim is accepted and the cost of repairs does not exceed the value of your vehicle, you are entitled to choose the auto body shop where your vehicle gets repaired. The insurance company is then required to pay for repairs that will return your vehicle to the same condition it was in before the auto accident occurred. Keep in mind that if your vehicle is several years old or has a lot of miles, the insurance company may only be required to pay for used or reconditioned parts to repair your vehicle. If you have questions about getting your vehicle repaired following a car accident, truck accident or motorcycle accident, you should consult with an experienced auto accident attorney.

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What is a "diminished value" claim?

You are entitled to any reduction in the value of your vehicle due to the collision. Frequently, this occurs when you have a newer or more expensive car that sustains moderate to significant damage in an auto accident. When this occurs, it may be useful to examine appraisal figures before and after the collision to determine the vehicle's reduction in value. For a small fee (usually less than $500), many authorized dealerships will offer this service.

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Does the other driver's insurance company have to pay for my rental car, towing and storage?

Yes, provided the auto accident was the other driver's fault and they carried adequate insurance. If this occurs, you are entitled to a rental car for every day you are unable to use your vehicle following the auto accident (also referred to as "loss of use"). The rental car should be equal in value to the vehicle damaged in the collision. For example, if someone rear-ends your brand-new BMW, you should be provided with a rental car of equal value such as an Acura, Cadillac, or Mercedes while your vehicle is in the repair shop.

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What happens if my vehicle is declared a total loss?

If your vehicle is "totaled" in an auto accident that wasn't your fault (i.e. the repairs exceed the total value of your vehicle), you are entitled to the fair market value of your vehicle, which generally must be paid within 30 days of making your claim. Fair market value is determined based on a variety of factors including make, model, options, mileage and condition. If you are unsure about the fair market value of your vehicle, check with Kelly Blue Book. Searching your local classified ads or Craigslist for similar cars, trucks, vans or motorcycles can also help provide a frame of reference. Alternatively, you may elect to keep your vehicle, but the settlement check you receive will be reduced by the salvage value.

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What if my vehicle was customized or modified before the accident?

If your vehicle was customized or modified before the auto accident occurred (e.g. custom paint, performance upgrades, after-market stereo, etc.) you should provide this information to the adjuster who is handling your property damage claim along with receipts. If you do not have receipts, you can provide photos and try to estimate the fair market value of the custom parts that were damaged using local classified ads (such as Craigslist) or consult a qualified appraiser.

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How do I settle my property damage claim?

Once the insurance adjuster handling your property damage claim has completed their investigation, they will offer you a check to settle your property damage claim. Before accepting this check, make sure you are satisfied with the amount offered. Examine the property damage estimate and any other items warranting your attention. Make sure the check includes the cost of transferring your tags, plus any prorated annual tax and/or registration fees. Also make sure that you are reimbursed for any towing and storage fees as well as rental car expenses (a.k.a. "loss use claim"). If you are unable to settle your property damage claim on your own, or if you have questions about this process, you should immediately consult with an experienced auto accident attorney.

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