Personal Injury Insurance Claims After a Car Accident
Inside the insurance claims process, and tips on getting the most out of your claim.
Every year, thousands of people are involved in motor vehicle accidents. Whether the collision involves major property damage and injury, or is a seemingly minor fender-bender, it will most likely entail making a claim for damages with an insurance company -- your own, or the other driver's.
While not all accidents are alike, there are common steps that anyone involved in a collision should take to ensure that they are appropriately compensated for their losses. This article provides an overview of how a car accident case gets started.
At the Scene
First and foremost, check on the safety and well-being of your passengers and the other individuals involved. Call the paramedics if anyone appears to be injured. Many times injuries can occur even from seemingly minor accidents. It is obviously important for health reasons, but also for the ultimate success of any claim for damages, that accident victims seek prompt medical attention.
Regardless of apparent injury, call the police and ask that an office be sent to the scene. This is important even if the appears to be minor. Having a police report created at the time of the accident is extremely important in ascertaining which driver is legally at fault. Learn more about how a police report can make your case.
In addition, obtain the name, address, driver's license number, vehicle licenses, and insurance information from all other drivers involved. The names and contact information of any witnesses should also be gathered.
If possible, take photographs of the accident scene, including the vehicles involved, the location of traffic signals, and any obvious skid marks, debris, or other evidence. You may also want to take notes on the weather and road conditions at the time of the accident.
Finally, avoid making any statements to the other drivers that could later be used against you.
Seeking Medical Care
Obtaining timely medical treatment for any injuries is important. Inform the treating physician that you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Follow through on all prescribed treatment.
If your symptoms do not resolve, do not hesitate to obtain a second opinion. It may also be helpful to your case to keep a journal that details any pain or symptoms, any treatment, and any medication taken.
The success of any claim you may have for monetary damages resulting from bodily injury will depend heavily on having a thorough medical record that documents your injuries, their relation to the accident, and their impact on your life.
Dealing with Insurers
As soon as possible, contact your automobile insurance company to report that an accident has occurred. Your insurance company will assign a claim number and a claims adjuster to handle all aspects of your claim.
The insurer will ask you to provide as much information about the accident as you can and may ask to take a recorded statement of your version of events.
If the claim involves property damage to the motor vehicle, the insurance company may send out an individual to evaluate the extent of damage and to determine whether the car is repairable. Depending on your insurance policy, you may be able to have a rental car provided to you. Even if you were not at fault, your own insurance company will often provide the rental car to you and seek reimbursement from the at-fault party at a later time.
You will also want to report the accident to the other driver’s insurance company. Exercise caution when speaking with the other driver’s insurer. Remember, that company is representing the interests of the at-fault party and may not be putting your best interest first.
It is generally advisable to avoid providing a recorded statement. The insurance company may ask you to sign authorizations allowing it to access your employment and medical information. It is your right to refuse to do so. Inform the insurance company that you will provide all relevant medical information when you have completed treatment for any injuries. If your car is disabled and you have not obtained a rental car from your own insurance company, request that a rental car be provided to you.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
Dealing with an insurance company can be difficult in any circumstances. After a car accident, it can be even more daunting to face the task of providing all the necessary documentation to the insurer and to engage in claim settlement negotiations. An experienced personal injury attorney can ease some of the burden by engaging in fact-finding, gathering the necessary documentation, and crafting concise and thorough demands for settlement of your claim. Learn more about what a car accident lawyer can do for you.