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Mullins & Blake Attorneys

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Determining Fault To Maximizing Compensation

Visualizing Arkansas auto accident claims insurance on digital interface - Mullins & Blake AttorneysGuarding Your Interests When Engaging With Insurance Companies

Our strong recommendation regarding interacting with an insurance company is to contact an attorney before reaching out to the other driver’s insurance. It’s entirely reasonable to take a day or two to consult with an attorney and allow them to guide you in setting up your own claim.

Since the role of insurance in auto accidents claims in Arkansas is unavoidable, we often advise our clients to let us handle this process from the beginning. By doing so, you minimize your direct contact with the insurance adjuster, reducing the chances of them twisting your words, undervaluing your claim, or making you think they’re your friend, only to trick you later on in your case.

While dealing with your own insurance company is generally less adversarial than with the other driver’s insurer, we recommend against talking to any insurance company — even your own — before consulting with an attorney. Despite working for you, your own insurance company is still a business at the end of the day, with a vested interest in managing and saving money on claims. It’s prudent not to engage with a professional insurance adjuster without legal representation to ensure your case is presented in the most favorable light.

Hiring us, we take on the responsibility of handling interactions with your first-party insurance as well. We’ll initiate and be present at any necessary contacts to collaborate with your insurance company, ensuring proper coverage and representation throughout the process.

Determining Fault

Several factors are at play when determining fault in a car accident. One of the most influential pieces of evidence is the investigating police officer’s report. Police officers possess the training, skills, and experience needed to properly and thoroughly assess the incident’s dynamics, assign fault, and issue citations to the at-fault party if warranted.

While the police report is typically the starting point, it’s not the ending point. It’s important to understand that the opinions of police officers carry substantial weight and are highly regarded. They not only evaluate the scene but also interview witnesses, recording their contact information in the report. Our office frequently reaches out to these witnesses with the goal of obtaining more detailed statements when needed, especially in cases where contested liability issues arise with the at-fault insurance carrier.

Although investigating officers are often the best resource for determining fault, they, like anyone else, can be subject to human error or unforeseen circumstances. In such instances, our office routinely contacts the investigating officer to seek clarification when necessary, ensuring that the facts are made clear and favorable to our client. This proactive approach helps streamline the insurance process, potentially bringing quicker resolution.

Settling Property Damage And Personal Injury Claims

You don’t necessarily have to settle property damage and personal injury claims at the same time. In fact, it’s quite uncommon for both claims to reach a resolution at the same time, given the distinct pieces of evidence, various elements of damages, and different processes involved in each.

Your vehicle may be ready for repairs once all the necessary parts arrive, and the repair shop has the capacity for the job. Meanwhile, you might still be undergoing medical treatment for your injuries. In such cases, you can get your repaired car back, and you have up to three years to settle your claim or pursue legal action against the at-fault party. Your injury case doesn’t have to conclude just because your vehicle is ready for pickup. These aspects can and should be addressed separately as necessary.

There are instances, however, where both claims might be settled simultaneously, particularly when a lawsuit is filed. In many cases, a comprehensive settlement covering both property damage and injury claims may occur at the end of the legal proceedings. This, however, is a relatively rare exception.

Nonetheless, it is safe to settle both simultaneously. Doing so would take shape as two distinct claims, entirely independent of each other. It’s always wise to bring any settlement documents related to your property damage claim to our office for review before signing. You can send it to us via email or any other means to ensure there’s no language in the property damage release that inadvertently ties or complicates your personal injury claim. While such situations are rare, having an attorney review the documents helps catch any potential pitfalls that the insurance company might introduce, providing you with added assurance and protection.

To provide further clarity, when considering litigating a property damage and personal injury claim at the same time, it often depends on one aspect of the claim falling short based on the insurance company’s evaluation. In these types of situations, we may recommend filing a lawsuit for both aspects and allowing a jury to determine the overall value, avoiding the simplification of the insurance adjuster or the company’s role in settling specific parts of the claim.

Maximizing Your Compensation for Property Damage

According to jury instructions in property damage claims, you will likely be able to recover the difference in the fair market value of the vehicle immediately before and after the accident. Typically, this includes the cost of parts and labor to restore your car unless it is declared a total loss. In the case of a total loss, the insurance company owes you the full actual cash value of your vehicle, accounting for factors like low mileage or new tires or deductions for pre-existing damage.

If you’re legally entitled to a rental car and go without one due to your totaled vehicle, the insurance company owes you loss of use — the reasonable expense of having a car during that time. They are obligated to provide you with a rental car to ensure you aren’t left without transportation. However, in situations where the liability investigation extends without a determination, you are entitled to the reasonable value of the days you go without a rental car.

For those using their cars for work purposes, such as sales, driving for Uber or Lyft, or making deliveries, the income lost due to the inability to use the vehicle is also recoverable. We assist clients in gathering the necessary proof of lost income, ensuring they can recover this amount under their property damage claim.

For more information on The Role Of Insurance In Auto Accident Claims In Arkansas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (479) 337-7077 today.

Mullins & Blake Attorneys

Call Now To Learn More About Your Legal Rights
(479) 337-7077