Taking an auto insurance company to court is never a first decision. Court settlements are only necessary if an auto insurnce company has avoided a claim or been deceitful in a relentless way. It is possible to win when taking auto insurance companies to court, but always try to handle your claims with the insurance agent first.
When considering being wronged by an auto insurance company, try to avoid hassle and wrongful auto insurance companies’ withholding claims by choosing a reliable auto insurance company before you purchase your insurance.
Our FREE auto insurance comparison tool will help you find great rates from great auto insurance companies by entering your ZIP code. Always be sure to review home and auto insurance companies to get the best options.
Consult an Attorney in Your Area
There are many attorneys who specialize in cases involving auto accidents and insurance claims. You should consult with an attorney about any claim you may have against your auto insurance company before you sue a car insurance company for bad faith.
If you decide to proceed to court without an attorney, following the steps below will increase your chances of winning a case against your insurance company in court. Suing auto insurance companies is a good idea only if these circumstances have been met.
Making a Demand
If you have not received a specific written offer of payment from your auto insurance company, you can make your own demand before proceeding to court. If you are not able to reach a resolution of your claim through discussion, then you will need to decide whether to take your claim to court.
While it is difficult and time-consuming to present a case in court without an attorney, many people are successfully able to do so. If you decide to take your auto insurance company to court on your own behalf, you must be aware that it is a serious matter that will take time and work on your part.
Thorough and accurate documentation is the best way to prove your case in court. Any time that you are involved in an accident, or believe that your auto has suffered damage covered by your insurance policy, you should obtain copies of documents.
- Your insurance policy;
- Any accident report generated by law enforcement;
- Copies of insurance and drivers license contact information from any other parties involved;
- Any correspondence or documentation received from your auto insurance company; note that hard copies of any on-line correspondence, such as emails or standardized progress reports from your company, should be printed so that hard copies can be brought to court;
- Medical reports and billing information for any medical consultations or treatment received;
- Damage repair estimates and bills (if you obtain multiple estimates, you are more likely to be able to establish that the actual cost of your repairs was reasonable);
- If there are any witnesses to the incident, you should obtain contact information immediately from these individuals, and you should obtain a written witness statement if the individual is willing to provide one; and
- Any documentation concerning lost work, wages, or income as a result of the accident.
Preparing Your Case for Court
- Even if you have obtained and organized all of your documentation as described above, you should again consider whether you will need the assistance of an attorney. In some small claims courts, the assistance of an attorney will not be allowed in the courtroom; this does not mean, however, that you cannot utilize the services of an attorney to help you prepare the case before you get to court.
- You will need to submit a Complaint form to the court that handles cases in the amount that you are seeking. You can learn the jurisdictional limits of small claims courts, city courts, etc. by consulting the local government website or visiting the local courthouse. You will need to carefully review and follow all procedures applicable to the particular court in which you file your claim.
- You will need to serve a copy of any Complaint or claim form on the insurance company. The local court rules will provide how service is to be made.
- It is very important to note that every state has statutes of limitations that govern the time in which you can file an accident or injury case and you must file before that period of time has passed;
- Before your court date, you should prepare a narrative statement setting forth a chronology of everything that has happened relating to your insurance policy claim;
- You should organize and index all of the documentation discussed above;
- You should contact any witnesses and make sure that they are willing to attend the court date;
- You must appear for your court date on time with all of your documentation, testimony, and witnesses prepared;
- If there is no settlement of your case, you will need to present your case to the judge or jury and explain the amount of your damages and injuries. Both sides will have an opportunity to make their case.
You can settle a case or claim against your auto insurance company at any time before your court date or even on the day you are to be in court. Insurance companies will often not settle a case until just before a trial.
There are many reasons why insurance companies take this approach to delaying settlement; but just be aware that you may receive an acceptable offer to resolve your claim ‘on the courthouse steps.’
Any settlement of a claim between you and your auto insurance company will be set forth in a specific written document. Even if you have not consulted an attorney to represent you thus far in the process, you may still wish to contact an attorney to review such a document.
If you do take your insurance company to court and there is no settlement of your claim, you should be aware that either you or the company will normally have the right to appeal any court judgment or jury verdict. You will have to follow strict court rules if you wish to appeal.
It is possible to win when taking an auto insurance company to court. Winning in court, however, can be a lot of work and quite time-consuming. It is not something to be taken lightly and can be avoided altogether by choosing a reliable company that will handle your claims. Enter your ZIP code into our FREE auto insurance comparison tool to find rates from reliable auto insurance companies that won’t let you down.