GEICO Accident Injury Claim Process and Warnings
As one of the country’s biggest auto insurance providers, GEICO insures about 28 million vehicles in the US. In California, it’s consistently among the three largest auto insurers. It’s likely that you or other drivers around you carry a GEICO policy if you’re driving on California roads
What happens if you get injured in a car accident and you have to claim from GEICO? Here’s what to expect and what to be aware of when making a GEICO claim in California. For legal advice specific to your case, don’t hesitate to consult a trusted personal injury lawyer.
How to Make an Injury Claim with GEICO: The Claims Process
Under California’s fault-based system, the party that caused your car crash is liable to pay for your losses. Usually, you’ll be claiming from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. The following are the basic steps in the GEICO accident injury claim process. Do read our tips and warnings further below before you start your claim.
- Step 1. If GEICO has been notified of the crash, one of their claims adjusters may call you soon after. If not, contact the company through their phone number, website, or app. This will initiate your claim. You’ll be asked to provide information such as the date, time, and location of the accident, as well as your insurance information and that of the other driver.
- Step 2. The adjuster will assess the eligibility of your claim, and how much GEICO believes they should pay. In general, insurance adjusters want to close claims quickly, so you can expect an initial settlement offer soon after your call.
- Step 3. You may negotiate with the adjuster by giving them a counter estimate of your losses. It’s best to have a lawyer at the point to help you assert the amount you deserve. You’ll need strong evidence and negotiation skills to deal with a seasoned insurance company like GEICO.
- Step 4. If you get a settlement offer that’s fair for you, you may accept the offer by signing the settlement release. Note that signing this document means your case is closed and you can no longer claim for any further losses, so you’ll want to consult your lawyer before signing anything.
Many claimants wonder: How long does it take GEICO to process a claim? According to GEICO’s website, they can settle claims in as fast as 48 hours. Though this sounds ideal, it isn’t necessarily in favor of the claimant. In most cases, the initial settlement offer is much less than the claimant needs and deserves. You need an experienced injury attorney to determine what your claim is really worth and to negotiate for it.
Watch Out for These Claims Adjuster Tactics
Insurance claims adjusters often seem friendly and caring, and they reassure you that they’re working for the best possible outcome for you. But what many injured claimants aren’t prepared for are the tactics that adjusters use to undermine their claim. Insurance companies have a variety of methods to minimize the amounts they have to pay, ultimately protecting their profits.
When pursuing your injury claim with GEICO, be aware of these tactics that the claims adjuster may use to reduce your claim:
- Using your recorded statements. During any of your communications, the adjuster may ask to record the conversation as a standard practice. You are not obligated to say anything on the record, and you should decline. Adjusters can use recorded statements to damage your claim. Even saying “I’m fine” could downplay the severity of your injuries. To avoid such mistakes, refer the adjuster to your attorney.
- Challenging fault in the accident. California follows the comparative negligence rule, which takes into account the share of fault that all parties contributed to the crash. It’s possible for injured victims to be found partially at fault, too, and this can reduce their compensation. Insurers take advantage of this rule whenever possible, by alleging that the claimant is partly at fault for their own injuries.
- Lowballing. This is the common practice of offering a settlement amount that’s far less than your case is really worth. Insurance companies know that accident victims need compensation fast. Thus, adjusters offer a small amount early in the process in hopes that the claimant accepts it without negotiating for a fair settlement.
- Alleging that your expenses exceed the “usual”. Major insurance companies like GEICO have their own medical professionals that evaluate the medical costs you’re claiming from them. One of their common findings is that your medical expenses have exceeded the “usual and customary charges” for such an injury. To protect yourself from this, get an attorney who can present evidence and argue that your medical costs aren’t excessive.
- Delaying the process. Adjusters know that the longer the claim process goes on, the more likely the claimant may settle for the amount on the table. Look out for vague delays in your claim such as needing unreasonable paperwork or taking weeks to return your call. If you experience these, get the help of an injury attorney.
- Denying your claim without investigation. Unfortunately, there have been many cases where the insurer rejects the claim without proper and adequate investigation. The claimant receives only a vague or unfair reason for the denial. This could constitute “bad faith insurance,” for which you may take legal action.
Your Injury Claim Could Be Worth More Than They Offer
One crucial thing you can do in a GEICO claim is to contact an attorney early on to help determine the full value of your case. It may be more than you think and more than GEICO initially offers.
In an injury claim, you may be entitled not only to economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages, but also to non-economic damages like pain and suffering. With your attorney’s help, you should get a solid idea of how much you’re entitled to, because insurance companies will want to minimize these damages.
For instance, how does GEICO calculate pain and suffering? Though there’s no standard formula to compute this, the insurance adjuster might use the multiplier method of calculation. This method multiplies your total economic damages by a number assigned to your pain and suffering. For example, if your economic damages added up to $10,000 and the multiplier that the adjuster assigned was 2, you could get $20,000 for pain and suffering.
A computation like this depends largely on how much your economic damages are, particularly your medical bills. As we know now, insurance companies like GEICO have ways of downplaying your medical expenses, such as by claiming that these expenses exceed the ““usual and customary charges.” If the insurer can reduce your medical costs, they can reduce your non-economic damages as well.
Tips to Protect Your Accident Injury Insurance Claim
- Seek medical attention immediately. Don’t delay going to the doctor, even if your injuries seem minor. Also don’t miss any subsequent clinic appointments. Delays and missed appointments can indicate to the adjuster that your injuries aren’t as serious as you say.
- Gather evidence early. As much as possible, take photos and videos of the accident scene, your visible injuries, property damage, and other relevant details. From this point onwards, keep your medical documents, pay stubs, and receipts related to your injury.
- Report to the police. California law requires motorists to report crashes involving injuries. Request a copy of the police crash report, as this can help establish how the accident happened.
- Contact an attorney. Get a lawyer’s guidance before you even speak with an insurance representative. An experienced attorney can protect you from mistakes that could cost you your compensation. He or she should also help you maximize your settlement through sharp legal strategies.
Even if you’re not thinking about lawsuits at this point and only want to pursue an insurance claim, an attorney can be invaluable. The reality is that insurance companies take claims much more seriously once the claimant gets a lawyer. An experienced attorney also gives you better negotiating power, leveling the playing field against experienced claims adjusters.
Contact a GEICO Injury Claims Attorney in San Diego County
Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers is one of California’s most successful injury law firms. For over 20 years, our firm has been handling insurance injury claims resulting in favorable settlements for our clients. In fact, we’ve obtained more than $100 million on behalf of Californians who were injured in car collisions. Our lawyers are skilled, experienced, and fearless when facing major insurance companies like GEICO.
Talk to us about your GEICO injury claim. Your consultation with us is free, and you won’t have to pay us lawyer fees until we obtain compensation for you. Call us today at (619) 550-1355.
Robert Hamparyan is one of California’s most accomplished personal injury lawyers. Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers San Diego was founded so that Robert could bring more of his skill and knowledge to personal injury victims in all types of cases. Robert and his team have dealt with semi truck accidents, wrongful death cases, brain & spine injuries, and many other types of personal injury cases with soaring success.
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