Q

I was in a car accident, and my insurance company was great—the rep cut me a check for $2,000 to fix all my dents and scratches. Now I’ve found out that my car has sustained structural damage that will cost another $2,000 to repair. Can I make the insurance company pay?

A

Only after examining your case can we can tell you for sure, but the answer is “probably not.” It’s understandable that, in the wake of your accident, you wanted to get the whole unpleasant experience behind you as soon as possible and settle with your insurance company for the apparent damages to your car. But your big mistake was accepting this settlement before you had a chance to have your vehicle thoroughly checked out by a mechanic, who could have told you that the damage went much deeper than a few surface bumps and scratches. You should never allow an insurance adjuster to give your car a quick once-over, all by himself, and diagnose the repairs that need to be made.

In most cases, once you’ve accepted that lowball check proffered by your insurance agent, your goose is cooked—your insurer has contractually met its obligations and is unlikely to pay for further repairs. Sadly, you settled too quickly. Occasionally, though, with the aid of an aggressive attorney, you may be able to demonstrate that your insurance rep behaved unethically or even illegally, and you can thus go back and demand full payment for all the damage your car sustained. This can be a difficult trick to pull off, though, because your insurer will argue that the “additional” damages you’re claiming were actually sustained after the accident, or that you simply made them up in order to get a bigger check.

You should always have a lawyer at your side when settling with a car insurance company, no matter how trustworthy that company seems. Questions? Contact the Rockford car accident attorneys at The Fisk & Monteleone Law Firm (888-716-7336) for a free consultation today!