4.4 million people are injured each year in the United States as a result of auto accidents.
Being involved in a car accident is one of the most stressful things you can experience, especially if you are injured as a result. It can be difficult to know what to do as the process of auto accident claims is complex and varies based on where the accident occurred.
Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the process alone. Keep reading to learn more about how auto accident claims work and why you need an attorney on your side.
Filing a Claim
As soon as possible after an accident occurs, you should file a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company. You can do this by referencing the other party’s auto insurance card.
If your vehicle is damaged, you have the option of going through your own insurance company to get your vehicle repaired or replaced more quickly. This applies if you have collision coverage on your vehicle. If you go this route, you will have to pay your deductible.
Your insurance company will then go after the responsible party’s insurance company for reimbursement. This is called subrogation. Your insurance company may or may not be able to get back your deductible.
If the other party’s insurance company assigns any percentage of the blame to you, you may only receive back a percentage of your deductible.
You can also choose to go through the at-fault party’s insurance company and wait for them to complete an investigation. Keep in mind that this is third-party liability insurance, so you are not guaranteed a favorable outcome.
If the at-fault party doesn’t have liability insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the amount of the damages, you may be entitled to compensation through your own insurance company. This is only true if you have purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Your options depend on the state you live in. This type of coverage includes reimbursement for property damage as well as bodily injury and pain and suffering.
If you were injured in the accident, you may have medical payments coverage under your personal auto insurance policy that can help with out of pocket medical expenses for those in your vehicle.
After a claim is filed with the insurance company for the at-fault party, a claims adjuster will be assigned to complete an investigation.
Their job is to determine what happened, who was at fault, and who should be paid what as compensation. How liability is determined and how much, if anything, each party is entitled to recover depends on the law in the state where the accident occurred.
Remember that the adjuster works for the insurance company for the other party. They are not on your side and are not looking out for your best interest.
When you speak to them without an attorney, they can take what you say and twist it against you. This is why it’s so important to have an experienced personal injury attorney representing you.
The claims adjuster will do the following as part of their investigation:
- Obtain and review the police report
- Take recorded statements of each party involved
- Take recorded statements of witnesses to the accident
- Take photos of the accident scene
- Inspect and take photos of all vehicles involved
- Review social media accounts of parties involved
- Obtained signed medical release of information forms and request medical records both prior to and relating to the accident
- Review medical records, medical bills, and proof of lost wages
Negotiating a Settlement
After the claims adjuster has completed their investigation, they will make a determination on liability. If they find their insured to be liable (to any extent) for the accident and subsequent damages, they may make you a settlement offer.
In some states, if you are partially at fault for what happened, you may be barred from recovering or have your compensation reduced based on your percentage of fault.
The insurance adjuster will also determine how much you are owed by evaluating economic and non-economic damages. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, can be difficult to calculate. Having an attorney on your side can ensure your damages are properly represented and that you get a fair settlement.
Why You Need An Attorney
Insurance companies offer settlements because they think you want to settle your case as quickly as possible and will accept a less than fair offer. They don’t want to take cases where their insured is clearly at fault to trial because it is more expensive and they are likely to receive a harsher judgment from a judge or jury.
When you take on insurance companies on your own, they often try to manipulate you into taking a settlement that is less than you deserve. The truth is, you don’t have to settle for less. When you hire a personal injury attorney to represent you, insurance companies know you are serious.
It’s important to hire an attorney with trial experience. Your attorney will help you navigate the claims process and ensure you get a fair settlement.
Learn More About Car Accident Claims
Fully understanding the process of auto accident claims is difficult, even if you’ve been in an accident before. If you are involved in a car accident where another party is at fault, you need a personal injury attorney on your side.
Insurance companies take advantage of claimants who aren’t represented by attorneys because they think they can lowball them. Show them you are serious and know your rights by hiring an experienced car accident lawyer.
Click here to contact us today for a free case evaluation.