You’ve heard the commercials: Nationwide is on your side. But when it comes to filing an accident claim with Nationwide Insurance Company, is this jingle really true?
For most people, the answer is no. After all, Nationwide is a big business, raking in $757 million in profits in 2020 alone. Part of how the insurance giant makes such huge profits is by denying or underpaying valid insurance claims.
If you’ve been hurt in a motor vehicle accident with a driver insured by Nationwide, you don’t have to just accept a lowball offer. With the help of a skilled West Virginia car accident lawyer, you can get maximum compensation for your losses, including medical care, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
At Johnstone & Gabhart, our legal team is devoted to helping injury victims throughout West Virginia get the money that they deserve for their injuries. Based in Charleston, we represent individuals in all types of auto accident claims, from t-bones to hit and runs to rear ends to drunk driving accidents. Our law firm offers free initial consultations, and we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
Nationwide Car Accident Claims in West Virginia
Filing a third-party claim with Nationwide seems like it should be straightforward. After all, if a driver with Nationwide Insurance hit you, then the insurance company should just pay for your losses. Unfortunately, it doesn’t often work like that.
In West Virginia, personal injury claims are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. Even if you can prove that the at-fault driver was negligent in some way – such as by speeding, running a red light, or not paying attention while driving – Nationwide may still refuse to pay you a fair settlement.
They do this in a number of ways. Once a claim has been filed, Nationwide will assign an insurance adjuster to your case. This adjuster may use several different tactics designed to minimize the amount that Nationwide has to pay you.
This often starts with a Nationwide adjuster trying to convince you that you don’t need a personal injury lawyer. They may tell you that they accept full responsibility, and that a lawyer will cost you too much money. They do this for a reason – because they know that people who have legal representation recover an average of 40% more, compared to people who represent themselves.
At the same time, the claims adjuster will try to get you to give a recorded statement about what happened. Any statement that you give will then be used by Nationwide Insurance Company to try to reduce the value of your claim. For example, if you tell the adjuster that you might have taken your eyes off the road for a moment, Nationwide may argue that your total recovery should be reduced under the principles of comparative negligence.
A Nationwide adjuster may also ask you to sign a release that empowers the company to request your medical records. They will then go through your records with a fine-toothed comb, looking for a pre-existing condition that they can use to argue that they should pay you less money. For example, if you had a back injury 25 years ago in college, Nationwide might claim that your soft tissue injuries weren’t actually related to your wreck – and they shouldn’t be responsible for your medical bills.
Finally, the claims adjuster might simply try to stall your claim. After a car accident, you might be stretched to your financial breaking point – particularly if you are unable to work due to your injuries. The longer that you have to wait for a Nationwide payout, the more likely that you are to just take whatever settlement they offer.
These strategies can be devastating to an accident victim, and often result in you getting a settlement that doesn’t even cover your losses. If you want to protect yourself against an overly aggressive insurance adjuster, you should not talk to anyone or sign any paperwork until after you have scheduled a consultation with a personal injury law firm. An experienced West Virginia car accident lawyer can advise you of your rights and take over communications with Nationwide Insurance Company for you.
Nationwide Accident Claims Process
After a car accident, the at-fault driver should file a claim with their insurance company, whether it is Nationwide or another carrier. If they don’t, then you can file a claim with Nationwide Insurance Company yourself. This starts the Nationwide claim process.
As noted above, Nationwide will then assign an insurance adjuster to your claim. The adjuster will start an investigation into the accident. This might involve interviewing witnesses, requesting a police report, and requesting medical records. Remember: if Nationwide isn’t your insurance company, you don’t have to talk to them.
Once the investigation has concluded, then Nationwide will typically make a settlement offer. If you are not represented by a West Virginia car accident lawyer, then this offer will probably be less than the full value of your claim. At this point, you have the option of accepting or rejecting the injury settlement.
You can also consult with personal injury attorneys in your area to get a better idea of your rights and what your case is worth. This can be done at any point in the legal process, but ideally, you will schedule an appointment with a law firm as soon as possible after the accident. A consultation is free of charge, so there is no risk or out-of-pocket expense.
If you decide to hire a lawyer, then they will handle all communications with Nationwide for you. They will begin by performing their own investigation of the accident – visiting the accident scene, requesting an accident report, talking to witnesses, and examining photos and videos. Your attorney will also research West Virginia law to put together a strong claim for financial compensation.
Using this information, your lawyer will send a demand letter to Nationwide. The demand letter will set out the facts of the case, the legal reason why their insured is liable, and make a demand for damages (money). This begins the negotiation process.
Most car accident claims are resolved by negotiation, rather than by taking the case to court. However, if necessary, your attorney may recommend that you file a personal injury lawsuit. This often happens when auto insurers refuse to offer a fair settlement or when they dispute some aspect of the claim.
Even if you file a lawsuit, there is still a strong likelihood that your case will settle. As your attorney prepares your case for trial, they will continue to negotiate with Nationwide. If they cannot come to an agreement on a dollar figure for your claim, then they will present your case and ask a jury to return a verdict in your favor.
Nationwide Accident Settlements in West Virginia
Personal injury claims may include three types of damages (monetary compensation). Economic damages address direct financial losses that you have suffered, such as bodily injuries, medical expenses, future medical treatment, property damage, and lost wages. Non-economic damages are meant to cover intangible losses like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress.
In some cases, punitive damages may be available. Punitive damages are meant to punish an individual who engaged in intentional or wrongful conduct, like drunk driving. Because most personal injury cases are based on negligence, you may not be entitled to punitive damages.
Depending on the facts of your case, your Nationwide payout may include one or more of these types of damages. Most commonly, a Nationwide settlement will include both economic and non-economic damages. Your West Virginia car accident attorney can advise you as to whether punitive damages are available in your claim.
A Nationwide Insurance claim may take as little as several weeks or months to resolve. If your attorney advises you to file a lawsuit against Nationwide, then the legal process could drag on for much longer – a year or more. Most frequently, accident victims receive a payout from Nationwide within a few months of their accident.
When to Hire a West Virginia Accident Attorney
If you have been hurt in a West Virginia car crash, you should contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Not only are there time limits on filing a lawsuit in WV, the best way to protect yourself from overly aggressive Nationwide adjusters is by having an attorney by your side.
Most personal injury law firms offer free initial consultations and handle claims on a contingency fee basis. This means that you won’t pay anything out of pocket to hire a lawyer. Instead, the attorney will be paid a percentage of your total recovery.
A car accident lawyer will examine every aspect of your case to determine who might be financially responsible for your losses. They will consult with experts, work with your doctors, and use their own experience and knowledge to get you maximum compensation.
After a car accident, your number one priority should be your health and well-being. When you hire an experienced auto accident attorney, they will take on the insurance company for you – leaving you to focus on what really matters.
How Much Is My Nationwide Car Accident Claim Worth?
The value of your claim is based on a number of factors, such as the policy limits of the at-fault driver, the type of injury that you suffered, and how badly you were hurt. For example, a person who suffered a broken bone during a car accident will probably recover less financial compensation than a person who was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.
A skilled West Virginia car accident lawyer can give you a ballpark estimate of your case value during a free initial consultation. As the case proceeds, this number may increase or decrease. To learn more, give Johnstone & Gabhart a call to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Check from Nationwide?
The time it takes to get a payout from Nationwide depends on whether or not they accept responsibility and agree with your claim for damages. If you hire an attorney, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to get a settlement check. You may also be able to get a check from Nationwide quickly if you represent yourself – but there is a good chance that the settlement will be for far less than your claim is worth.
If you want to get paid quickly – and get the most possible money – for a Nationwide claim, then you should consult with a Charleston, WV car accident lawyer. An attorney can protect your rights and fight to get you the highest possible level of compensation. Contact Johnstone & Gabhart today to learn more about how we can help you.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against Nationwide?
In West Virginia, there is a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims. This means that – with some exceptions – you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. If you don’t file within that time frame, then your claim will be disallowed.
Beyond the statute of limitations, it is a good idea to start the claims process as soon as possible. Over time, witness memories fade and evidence is lost. By contacting a West Virginia personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident, you can protect your right to full compensation.
Filing a Claim Against Nationwide? Call Us First.
Being in a car accident can be difficult enough as it is. Having to deal with an insurance company like Nationwide that doesn’t want to pay you can make it even harder. Our law firm is here to help.
Johnstone & Gabhart has recovered millions of dollars for our clients. We represent injury victims involved in all types of car accident cases. In each case, our goal is to help our clients get the highest possible recovery for their injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Charleston, WV car accident lawyer, give us a call at 304-343-7100 or fill out our online contact form.