Car accidents usually happen unexpectedly, leaving you with more questions than answers. Besides obtaining prompt and effective medical care, you also need to deal with your insurance company if you have been injured.
Unfortunately, the process of filing an auto insurance claim can even turn a minor fender bender into a significant challenge requiring you to spend a lot of time before you get the benefits you are entitled to as the insured party.
Luckily, having some information beforehand and knowing what to expect can make the process less daunting and complicated.
In this post, we discuss some of the things to expect when filing a car insurance claim. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What to Do After an Accident to Help Your Insurance Claim
If you have been involved in a car accident, you need to keep in mind that the decisions you make immediately after the accident can impact your insurance claim.
For instance, if you admit fault at the accident scene or sign any documents without consulting your lawyer or insurance company, it could be used against you and jeopardize your claim.
Therefore, it is essential that you know what to do (and what not to do) after an accident to help your insurance claim.
Generally, you should take the following steps after an accident to increase your chances of getting a fair settlement from your insurance company:
- Remain at the accident scene and do not leave until the police arrive;
- Exchange information with the other driver, including your name, contact information, insurance information, and license plate number;
- Take pictures of the accident scene, damage to both vehicles, and any visible injuries;
- Speak to witnesses and get their contact information;
- Do not discuss the accident with anyone other than the police, your lawyer, or your insurance company;
- Seek medical attention even if you do not think you have been injured; and
- Call your insurance company and let them know about the accident.
What to Expect When You Call Your Insurance Company
Once you have taken the necessary steps at the accident scene, the next thing you need to do is call your insurance company and notify them about the accident.
You should also let them know if you have been injured or if there is damage to your vehicle. When you call, have the following information ready:
- Your policy number
- The names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident, including passengers, drivers, and witnesses
- The make, model, and year of each vehicle involved in the accident
- The police report number (if available)
- A description of what happened
After you have notified your insurance company about the accident, they will likely ask you to provide a recorded statement.
You are not required to give a recorded statement, but if you do, anything you say can be used against you later.
Therefore, you must consult with a lawyer before giving a recorded statement to your insurance company.
What Happens After You File a Claim
After you have notified your insurance company about the accident and submitted all the necessary documentation, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case.
The insurance adjuster’s job is to investigate the accident and determine how much your insurance company should pay for the damages.
He/she may contact you and ask you to provide a recorded statement. As we mentioned above, you are not required to give a recorded statement, but if you do, remember that anything you say can be used against you later.
Therefore, it is vital to consult with a lawyer before giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster.
The insurance adjuster may also ask you to sign a release form. A release form is a document that gives the insurance company permission to obtain your medical records and other information related to the accident.
You should not sign a release form without consulting with a lawyer first.
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After the insurance adjuster has finished investigating the accident, they will decide how much your insurance company should pay for the damages.
If you disagree with the insurance adjuster’s determination, you have the right to negotiate for a higher settlement amount.
If you cannot reach an agreement with the insurance adjuster, you may need to file a lawsuit.
What If I Live in a No-Fault State?
Some states have what is known as a “no-fault” system when it comes to car accidents.
In a no-fault state, each driver’s own insurance company pays for their medical expenses and property damage, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
It means that instead of collecting the other driver’s insurance information and filing a claim with their insurance company, you would file a claim with your own insurance company.
However, even in no-fault states, there are still options for filing a personal injury lawsuit if you have been seriously injured in an accident.
For example, if you have suffered severe injuries that have resulted in significant medical expenses or have been left unable to work, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
It is important to note that each state has different laws regarding car accidents and insurance. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your state. The attorney will assess your case and advise you of your legal options.
Will Filing an Auto Insurance Claim Increase My Rates?
Filing an auto insurance claim will not necessarily increase your rates. However, if your insurance company believes that you were at fault for the accident, they may raise your rates.
If you are found to be at fault for an accident, you may also be placed in a high-risk category, resulting in higher rates.
If you are concerned about your rates going up, you may want to consult with a lawyer before filing a claim.
A lawyer can help you understand the claims process and ensure that your rights are protected.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
If you have been involved in a car accident, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Your lawyer will be able to:
- Investigate the accident and gather evidence
- Speak with witnesses and obtain their statements
- Handle all communication with the insurance company
- Negotiate for a higher settlement amount
- File a lawsuit on your behalf, if necessary
If you have been involved in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can help you protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
After an accident, it is essential to take the necessary steps to ensure that your insurance claim goes as smoothly as possible.
Knowing what to do after an accident and what to expect when you call your insurance company can help minimize stress and confusion.
If you have any questions or need assistance filing a claim, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer who can help guide you through the process.