Liberty Mutual is a large insurance company that issues different types of policies, including auto, home, life, and renters insurance. One of Liberty Mutual’s subsidiaries is Safeco, which is a fairly well known insurance company as well. If you are in a car accident and have insurance with Liberty Mutual insurance or one of its subsidiaries, or if the other driver has Liberty Mutual, you may be wondering what to expect. Will Liberty Mutual handle my claim fairly? Will Liberty Mutual offer me a fair settlement? All insurance companies, Liberty Mutual included, want to close your claim for as little money as possible. This is one of the many reasons why you need a personal injury attorney on your side after an accident. We have represented a number of clients who have had claims with Liberty Mutual. In our experience, Liberty Mutual is one of the worst for evaluating personal injury claims fairly. Liberty Mutual will frequently try to argue that the charges for your medical expenses are not reasonable and customary, and they will try to offer pennies on the dollar for your pain and suffering. Here are some things you should know if you are dealing with Liberty Mutual after a car accident.
Opening a Claim with Liberty Mutual
If the person who caused the crash has Liberty Mutual you can call Liberty Mutual at 1-800-2CLAIMS (1-800-225-2467) to set up a claim. A Liberty Mutual representative will open the claim and ask you a series of questions. For example, the representative will ask you for the insurance policy number for the person who caused the accident, their name and contact info, any witness information, whether anybody was injured, and other basic information about the accident.
If you have Liberty Mutual insurance yourself and are opening a claim under your own policy, you also have the option of opening the claim online through Liberty Mutual’s website. The online claims page gives you the option to track the claim once it has been opened.
Liberty Mutual’s Investigation of Your Claim
Once the claim has been opened Liberty Mutual will assign a claim number and an insurance adjuster to handle the claim. Liberty Mutual may use one adjuster for property damage and one for the personal injury side of the claim. Liberty Mutual will likely want to take your recorded statement. Do not give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company, ever! Liberty Mutual will try to use the recorded statement to get you to say something that will hurt your claim. While you should never give the other driver's insurance company a record statement, a different rule may apply if you are dealing with Liberty Mutual as your own insurance company. If you have Liberty Mutual then your insurance policy’s cooperation clause may require you to give a recorded statement to your own insurance company.
In addition to trying to take your recorded statement, Liberty Mutual will likely try to contact other witnesses to the accident to get their version of events. If you are representing yourself—which, again, you should not be doing—the adjuster will try to get you to sign a medical authorization so he or she can get your medical records. The adjuster may also try to get you to sign an employment authorization so they can get your employment records.
In almost all car accident claims the property damage side is handled before the personal injury claim. Georgia law allows insurers to resolve the property damage claim while leaving the personal injury claim open, which helps expedite your efforts to get your car repaired or replaced while you recover from your injuries. Liberty Mutual may send a field adjuster to appraise your vehicle’s damage, or it may simply request that you take it to a body shop and get an estimate. Depending on the amount of damage the insurance company may just accept the body shop’s estimate.
The person who caused the accident is responsible for paying for your property damage, as well as the damages from the loss of use of your vehicle. This means the other driver’s insurance company is responsible for putting you in a rental car while your vehicle is repaired or replaced. However, if you are going through your own insurance policy’s property damage coverage, you may or may not be entitled to a rental car. That will depend on whether you purchased rental car coverage under your own policy.
If your vehicle is repairable then Liberty Mutual should pay for all the property damage you sustained. If it is totaled it should pay you for the actual cash value of your vehicle. Whenever your vehicle is repaired, Georgia law says you may be entitled to diminished value. The premise behind a diminished value claim is simple. Whenever your car is damaged in a crash it is worth less because of the damage. The amount of a diminished value claim depends on a number of factors, including the make and model of the car, its condition, the car’s mileage, and the amount of damage.
Hopefully you have hired a personal injury attorney if you were injured. You do not want to be in a position where you are dealing with Liberty Mutual alone. Liberty Mutual will do its best to take advantage of your lack of knowledge of the claims process and will do whatever it can to save money by paying you less than what your claim is worth.
One of the things that Liberty Mutual does when dealing with personal injury claims is that it evaluates the medical bills to see if they are “reasonable and customary.” If Liberty Mutual’s billing program determines the charges for your medical expenses are “too high,” then it will not offer you the full amount of your medical bills. Instead, it will offer you an amount that it thinks is “reasonable.” We have had Liberty Mutual try to use this ridiculous tactic multiple times, even for medical charges from reputable Atlanta hospitals and doctors. The bottom-line is that if you go to court and submit your bills to the jury, Georgia law says you do not need an expert to say your medical charges were “reasonable.” Instead, you are qualified to identify your medical bills and have them admitted into evidence. It would be up to the insurance company to refute the reasonableness of the charges by having an expert testify. In most cases this is unlikely to happen.
In addition to your medical expenses, you can also claim your lost wages for missed time from work. Lost wages and medical expenses are what are known as economic damages. Economic damages are damages that are capable of a precise measure. When submitting lost wage evidence to Liberty Mutual it is important to have as much documentation as possible. This documentation can include pay-stubs, disability forms, and signed wage verifications from supervisors or the human resources department for your company. You are entitled to claim damages for missed time from work, even if you were paid while you were out. For example, if you had to use leave time or PTO days, or if you received disability payments, the at-fault driver is still responsible for paying your lost wages.
While economic damages are frequently the primary factor Liberty Mutual will consider in determining the overall value of your claim, your noneconomic damages are also important. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, mental and emotional distress, scarring, disfigurement, and diminished capacity to labor. The value of a noneconomic damages claim depends on a number of factors, including the nature and severity of your injuries, the types of medical treatment you received, how long your injuries and any disability lasted, and your prior condition before the accident. In our experience Liberty Mutual is very bad at properly evaluating noneconomic damages claims. For car accident claims involving soft tissue injuries Liberty Mutual may try to offer $1,000 or less for your pain and suffering, even if you had to undergo months of physical therapy.
If your personal injury claim with Liberty Mutual is settled it will require that you sign a release that releases Liberty Mutual and its policyholder from any and all further liability. A release is always required when settling a personal injury claim. But the type of release you sign and the language that should be in the release depends on a number of factors. You should hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on all aspects of your injury case, including the type of release you should sign.
What if you have insurance with Liberty Mutual and are injured in a car accident? Does your insurance policy with Liberty Mutual have to pay for your injuries? In short, it depends. You may have a few different types of coverage that you could use to help pay your damages. One type of coverage you may have is what is known as medical payments coverage, or “med pay” for short. Med pay is basically health insurance for you if you are in an accident and can be used to help pay your medical bills, regardless of who was at fault.
Another type of insurance you may have with Liberty Mutual is uninsured motorist coverage. You may be entitled to uninsured motorist coverage the at-fault driver either had no insurance or not enough insurance. Most people are not aware which uninsured motorist coverage policies apply to their accident. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Brogdon Champion, LLC can help you understand this process.
Whether you are dealing with Liberty Mutual or some other insurance company, you should talk to a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Our experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys have the knowledge and experience to give you the help you need. Contact Brogdon Champion, LLC today for a free consultation about your car accident claim.