What are my rights regarding a car accident if my insurance company said my car is totaled and they want to settle the claim for less than I owe?

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What are my rights regarding a car accident if my insurance company said my car is totaled and they want to settle the claim for less than I owe?

My wife was in a head on accident, we believe the other persons fault but haven’t seen the police report to know for sure. She blacked out, and was taken to the hospital. Test showed no bleeding or broken bones and she was sent home. She still has headaches, sometimes foggy mind and normal aches and some bad bruising a week later. My insurance company will get reimbursed by the other carrier. No word at all on the medical claim. I feel they are low balling me to save money. I can’t afford the thousand dollar difference to pay off the car, let alone the down payment and fees to get a new one. Should I get an attorney?

Asked on September 25, 2015 under Accident Law, Iowa

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Your property damage claim is separate from your wife's personal injury claim.  
If you are dissatisfied with the property damage settlement offer, you can reject it and sue the at-fault party for negligence assuming your wife was not at fault in the accident.
If your wife was not at fault in the accident, she has a personal injury claim.  When she completes her medical treatment and is released by the doctor or is declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary, which means having reached a point in her medical treatment where no further improvement is anticipated, she should obtain her medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of wage loss.  Her personal injury claim filed with the at-fault party's insurance carrier should include those items.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of her injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.
If the case is settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.
If your wife is dissatisfied with settlement offers from the at-fault party's insurance carrier, she should reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party.
If the case is NOT settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, your wife's lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or she will lose her rights forever in the matter.
It would be advisable for your wife to be represented by a personal injury attorney.
 


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