As one of the largest auto insurance providers in the US, GEICO insures 28 million vehicles nationwide as of 2021. If you’re involved in a car accident, there’s a good chance that you, the other driver, or both of you have a GEICO policy.
What should you do if you’re injured in an auto accident and have to claim from GEICO? Here’s a guide on how to make your bodily injury claim, plus answers to commonly asked questions about GEICO injury claims.
What to Do Immediately After Your Accident
Before anything else, take the following steps immediately after your car accident. These will be important to your injury claim later on.
- Call 911 and seek medical attention for your injuries, even if they seem minor.
- Document the accident scene. Take photos of your visible injuries, the damage to your car, and any skid marks or surrounding damage.
- Exchange contact details and insurance information with the other driver.
- Talk to potential witnesses and ask for their contact details.
- Report the crash to the police. Reporting is required by NJ law if the accident resulted in bodily injuries or property damage of over $500.
- Contact a lawyer to ensure your rights before reporting your crash to GEICO.
How to file a PIP claim with GEICO
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers your losses regardless of who was at fault in the accident. For this reason, PIP benefits are sometimes called “no-fault benefits.”
In most private passenger automobile situations, PIP is mandatory in New Jersey. The system is designed so that your PIP insurance pays for all or most of your medical expenses and lost wages, and you don’t have to go through a lengthy claims process to prove who was responsible for the crash.
If GEICO is your PIP provider, you’ll need to report your car accident to them soon after it happens. You may contact them through the company’s hotline, website, or mobile app.
Remember to contact a personal injury lawyer before speaking with any insurer. While having a lawyer is not required to file a claim, your attorney can provide crucial guidance from the start of the process.
To initiate a PIP claim, you need to provide your insurance company a copy of your medical bills. They should then give you a Personal Injury Protection claim form to fill out.
If you’re being treated by a medical provider other than the hospital (such as a specialist clinic), make sure to give a “commencement of treatment” notice to your insurer within 21 days of your first clinic visit.
GEICO will conduct its own assessment of your claim. They’ll schedule a damage inspection and possibly car repair and rental.
An insurance adjuster will soon call you asking about the accident. They’ll try to get recorded statements from you through innocent-sounding questions, such as what you were doing before the crash and whether you’re feeling okay yet.
Any statements you give, even if they seem harmless, could be used to undermine your claim. You’ll want to avoid talking about the accident and your injuries without consulting your lawyer first.
Ideally, the insurance company will provide the full compensation allowed by your policy limits. However, this isn’t always what happens.
A PIP provider doesn’t just sum up your medical bills and pay you the total. The company uses medical professionals who review your itemized medical bills, and if they find that the amount exceeds the “New Jersey PIP Fee Schedule,” they’ll lower the value.
In addition, no-fault insurers are keen to spot expenses that they could deem “unnecessary.” They might argue, for example, that you no longer needed your medical procedures or medications after you returned to work, hence they won’t cover those.
If you believe this isn’t reasonable, you and your lawyer could negotiate with the insurer. Discuss the maximum value you can claim with your attorney and how to get a reasonable PIP payout.
How to claim from another driver’s GEICO liability policy
GEICO also provides bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage to New Jersey motorists. This coverage pays for other people’s injuries caused by the insured person. If you are the injured party and you wish to be compensated by the person at fault, you can file your claim against that person’s BIL to include outstanding medical bills subject to the NJ PIP fee schedule once your PIP coverage has been exhausted. Your BIL claim will thus be described as a third-party claim.
Though not required by law, you should work with a personal injury lawyer in your claim.
A good personal injury attorney will advise you to wait until your treatments are done, or you’ve reached maximum medical recovery before starting to negotiate with GEICO. This way, you have a concrete idea of what your medical damages are and if there are other related losses to anticipate in the future.
Your attorney can then initiate the negotiation on your behalf by sending a formal demand letter to GEICO, stating how much your damages are worth and why the insured person is liable. The insurance company will then respond with a counter-offer, and negotiations will begin.
You’d be wise to refuse early settlement offers. It’s a common practice in the insurance industry to offer low-ball amounts soon after the accident. GEICO has been in court several times in various states due to their unreasonably low settlement offers that some may describe as “bad faith” insurance (an illegal practice). In one case, the court noted that GEICO’s conduct was “bordering on negligence.”
A personal injury attorney can be indispensable in negotiating a settlement with GEICO. Your lawyer should have sharp negotiation skills and extensive real-world experience to know how insurers handle claims.
Insurance companies may communicate with you using friendly, reassuring language, but in reality, numerous claimants have had disappointing experiences with their insurer’s “delay, deny, and defend” tactics. An experienced injury lawyer can spot these tactics and know how to manage them.
When you reach a settlement amount with GEICO, your attorney should also protect you by reviewing the settlement release before you sign it. You want to make sure the provisions and the language in that document are fair to you.
Keep in mind that settlements are final and cannot be changed. If you’ve signed on a certain settlement amount and then find out later you need more medical treatments; you cannot demand more payments from the insurer. This is why you need your attorney’s guidance on the timing of your settlement.
It’s best to have a lawyer on your side right after an accident. However, don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney at any point in the claims process. We provide a free consultation at Grossman Law, so you lose nothing by talking to us.
What does GEICO pay for bodily injury?
To know how much you could receive in a GEICO bodily injury claim, you should work with your lawyer to examine your damages. In a third-party bodily injury claim, you may have more compensable losses than you expect, including:
- Hospitalization bills
- Treatment expenses
- Follow-up medical care
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Some claimants ask about the “average” settlement amount they could get in an injury claim. There is no true “average” settlement for accident injuries because settlements vary widely, depending on each case’s unique combination of factors. We’ll need to look at the severity of your injuries, any long-term care you need, the circumstances that led to the crash, and many more.
To give you an idea of the variety of injury settlements from GEICO, here are some examples:
- A driver in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, sustained a spine injury after being rear-ended by a drunk driver. The injured received a settlement of $10,000.
- A three-car crash in Livermore, California, resulted in a chest injury and a concussion for one motorist. The claim settled at $100,000.
- A passenger in Maryland suffered multiple sprains requiring surgery after their car hit a light pole. His settlement was $300,000.
Grossman Law has settled hundreds of claims in NJ, where GEICO has paid the full amount of their insured’s policy limits.
Again, each case is unique. Your final settlement check from GEICO could be different from the above examples. When you work with a competent injury attorney, you may be able to maximize the amount of compensation you receive. In general, car crash claimants represented by a lawyer receive greater insurance settlements.
How long does it take GEICO to settle a personal injury claim?
Generally, the length of the claims process depends on how complex the case is and how serious the injuries are.
For instance, if it’s fairly straightforward who caused the crash, the insurance company may offer what is known as a nuisance value amount type settlement in a few months. This is typically not the true value of what your case is worth or what an experienced personal injury attorney can obtain for you in the end. If your injuries are highly visible or severe (requiring in-patient stay at the hospital), GEICO may be compelled to pay quicker.
If you, like the vast majority of NJ residents, selected the limitation on lawsuit option on your auto insurance, then the only way to recover non-economic loss (pain and suffering) is to prove you sustained a permanent injury through objectively credible evidence, certain enumerated severe injuries, or even death. At Grossman Law, we deal with these limitations every day and will walk you through the details of what all of this means.
But if the insurer finds reason to delay or deny the claim, they’ll likely do so. They might assert that you were partly at fault in the collision or that your injuries have more to do with a pre-existing condition than with the crash. They may say that your injuries don’t meet the verbal threshold requirements and are not as serious as you claim or that there isn’t enough proof of them.
Insurance companies have many ways to delay the claims process, often pushing claimants to settle for any amount they can get (no matter how low). If insurance negotiations break down, you may opt to bring the case to a jury trial, which in New Jersey could take mean many years.
It can significantly help to have an experienced personal injury lawyer who can build a strong case for you and negotiate with GEICO.
What if GEICO denies my injury claim?
There are several possible reasons why GEICO might deny your bodily injury claim. Typically, they would say that the claim lacks merit or that the real cause of the accident isn’t covered in the policy (for example, “acts of God” like bad weather). They may also cite technical reasons, such as if the policy has lapsed or if you failed to report the crash promptly.
GEICO, in particular, has been known to reject claims if they consider the accident a “low impact collision.”
If GEICO denied your BIL claim, you may still have other options to claim compensation:
Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party
Many injured claimants ask, “Can I sue the driver who was responsible for the accident?” The answer depends on what kind of auto insurance you have.
As mentioned above, NJ car insurance policies may have either “no limitation on lawsuit” or “limited right to sue.” “No limitation” means just that — you may sue the at-fault party for any kind of crash injury you sustained. But if your auto insurance has a limitation on lawsuit, you can only sue the at-fault party if your injury is any of the following:
- Dismemberment (loss of body part)
- Displaced fracture
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury (a body part will no longer heal or function normally)
Under New Jersey’s statute of limitations, you generally have two years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party starting from the date of the accident. However, don’t wait for your insurance claim to stretch on and on before considering a lawsuit. Many injured claimants have missed their window to sue because they kept waiting on their delayed insurance process. Talk to your lawyer early on about your legal remedies.
Filing a lawsuit against GEICO
The main way you would name GEICO in a lawsuit is for an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist claim known as UM or UIM. This is when the insurance company for the at-fault driver has low liability limits, no liability coverage, or the other driver is unidentified and/or has no auto insurance coverage. Then you turn to your UM/UIM portion of your coverage for compensation. So in this situation, GEICO will routinely pay you only a nuisance or nominal amount. Law firms that specialize in UM UIM cases know the road map of exactly what needs to be done to hold GEICO responsible for doing the right thing. If they still refuse, then the ultimate option of going to a jury trial exists.
Does GEICO usually settle out of court?
GEICO won’t likely settle your case for the true value unless a lawsuit is filed, most law firms that specialize in auto accidents will file the lawsuit early on in the process to move things along.
If going through a costly and lengthy trial sounds stressful to you, know that most personal injury lawsuits (in general, not just against GEICO) are settled favorably before a trial even begins. The widely accepted estimate is that 95 to 96 percent of personal injury lawsuits arrive at a settlement out of court.
Does GEICO pay for Uber/Lyft accidents?
Most personal auto insurance policies will be voided if the vehicle is used for commercial purposes, such as ridesharing. Hence, if you were injured while driving for Uber or Lyft, your GEICO personal auto insurance will likely not cover your PIP or provide you with liability, UM UIM coverage.
Similarly, if you were injured in an accident as a Lyft or Uber passenger and the accident was caused by the Lyft/Uber driver, that driver’s personal auto insurance will likely reject your bodily injury liability claim. You’ll have to seek compensation from the rideshare company’s insurance, if applicable.
The only time that GEICO might cover your rideshare injuries is if you (or the at-fault driver) has the GEICO rideshare insurance.
Contact a personal injury lawyer in NJ
Having a lawyer is valuable to level the playing field against powerful insurance companies and protect you from costly mistakes in your bodily injury insurance claim.
The Grossman Law Firm is one of the most trusted personal injury firms in New Jersey. In the 20+ years we’ve been practicing, our firm has obtained deca-millions in settlements for accident victims and their families. We’re known for our hard-hitting representation against insurance companies, resulting in favorable outcomes for our injured clients.
Your consultation with the Grossman Law Firm is free and confidential. You won’t be charged any lawyer fees unless/until we obtain your compensation for you. Call us at (732) 625-9494 or send us a message today.