Do Expenses Need to be “Proven” Before They Can Be Included in a Settlement?

Establishing Fault in a Car Accident is Only the Beginning of the Challenge

Key Points:

  • Responsibility for Costs: Establishing fault is crucial after an accident, but proving the related expenses, which requires specific evidence, is equally vital for securing full compensation.
  • Role of Insurance Adjusters: Insurance adjusters attempt to be fair when estimating the cost of the accident, but are known to ignore expenses that don’t have proof. Which can include medical expenses, making it so your auto insurance check is disappointing.
  • Visibility of Expenses: Easily visible expenses like car repairs and tow expenses are quickly compensated, whereas hidden costs like medical treatments require extensive documentation and tough negotiations with insurers.

When an accident occurs and it’s clear that the victim wasn’t responsible, the focus shifts to securing full compensation for the accident. Establishing who is at fault is crucial, but proving the actual costs incurred is a separate challenge. Each requires its own set of evidence. We frequently see clients who aren’t disputing fault; instead, they come to us because their insurance compensation falls short. It’s common for insurers to overlook or dismiss certain expenses as if unaware of them. This is why proving your expenses is essential; insurance companies might try to sidestep them to cut costs. This battle for fair compensation is not just about establishing blame but about fighting for the recognition and reimbursement of every expense you’ve faced. After all, if the accident was not your mistake, it shouldn’t cost you a dime.

First – Who is Determining the Cost of the Accident for the Insurance Company?

In the world of insurance claims, the insurance adjuster is the person who figures out how much an accident costs. This expert looks closely at every detail, from photos of the vehicles to photos of the injuries, to decide the financial impact. While their main goal is to protect the insurance company’s money, they are also tasked with evaluating claims fairly. However, the amount they decide on can often lead to tough negotiations, as it determines what the insurance company will end up paying.

Some Accident Expenses Are Obvious, Others Are Not

Some accident expenses are immediately apparent, such as rental car expenses and auto body shop costs, which are usually recognized by insurance adjusters without dispute. These visible damages like a shattered windshield or the absence of a car are clear to see. When an insurance company has a relationship with a business that can provide the service to make that damage, whole, they go with it.

However, not all expenses are as obvious or visible. Costs like ongoing physical therapy, or medical equipment, or lost wages can accumulate silently and become significant financial burdens. These hidden expenses require thorough documentation and extensive negotiation with insurance companies, which may be hesitant to acknowledge their full impact. The challenge lies in ensuring that every cost, whether visible or hidden, is fully recognized and compensated, highlighting the crucial role of the insurance adjuster in uncovering these less apparent damages.

Do Car Accident Expenses Have to be Proven in Order to Be Compensated for Them?

If an insurance company initially refuses to cover a specific expense, providing proof that the car accident caused that expense is crucial to negotiating it into a settlement. Clear and convincing evidence can make the insurer more inclined to revise their initial offer. However, without any proof to support the claim, it’s unlikely that the insurance company will be open to negotiating that particular expense. Essentially, having solid evidence is key to securing payment for any disputed expense.

A Common Example – Neck and Spinal Pain from a Car Accident

It’s quite common for someone to be rear-ended, not report any severe injuries at the scene of the accident, and then gradually experience increasing neck or back pain. This pain often stems from a type of silent injury known as whiplash. When accident victims file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, they might mention the injury, but without any bills or invoices, the insurance adjuster will proceed with an initial estimate. In the meantime, the victim consults a neurologist and a chiropractor to address and alleviate their spinal pain. After a few weeks, medical bills begin to accumulate, and the car accident victim is shocked to discover that the initial insurance settlement offer falls short of covering these medical expenses. At this point, a car accident lawyer typically gets involved to advocate for the victim and ensure proper compensation.

Once involved, the car accident lawyer collects all the bills and delves deeper, obtaining X-rays and witness statements from doctors who confirm clear damage to parts of the victim’s spinal cord. They even demonstrate how the severity of the accident could cause this type of injury. The lawyer outlines these costs in a demand letter and requests a higher settlement amount. After reviewing the evidence, the insurance company agrees. This scenario illustrates an ideal situation where a car accident lawyer steps in to substantiate the expenses.

Which Car Accident Expenses Do Not Require Proof for Compensation?

Sometimes, insurance companies will approve small or affordable expenses without requiring receipts or bills. Common examples include mileage costs for travel to appointments, Uber or Lyft fares, and roadside assistance fees. However, it’s important to note that as expenses increase or accumulate, the insurance company will typically request proof before agreeing to cover these costs.

Which Evidence is the Best to Prove a Car Accident Expense?

To strengthen a claim for car accident expenses, it’s crucial to gather a comprehensive set of evidence. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Receipts and Invoices: These are essential for showing the costs related to repairs and medical treatments that are directly linked to the accident.
  • Medical Records: These documents are key as they provide a detailed record of your treatments, showing that they are necessary due to the accident.
  • Repair Estimates and Bills: These help illustrate the extent of vehicle damage, offering clear evidence of the financial impact from before and after the accident.
  • Police Reports: These reports play a critical role by providing an official account of the accident, which helps connect your expenses to the incident.
  • Photographic Evidence: Photos from the accident scene and of the damages are powerful as they visually document what happened and the severity of the damage.
  • Witness Statements: Statements from people who saw the accident can support your story and add credibility to your claims.
  • Expert Testimony: In more complex cases, the input of specialists like accident reconstruction experts or medical professionals can be necessary. Their expert opinions can confirm the nature and cause of your expenses.

Collecting these types of evidence makes your claim more compelling and greatly improves your chances of a favorable outcome. Especially if communicated properly in a demand letter.

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Darren G.
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