Car accidents can be traumatic and stressful for the victim and their family, especially with extensive damage or injuries. There can be numerous instances of car damage and bodily injuries resulting from it. Accidents can make you lose your car and source of income or sustain physical and emotional distress.
However, you can file a car accident claim to seek compensation for the injuries, damage, or lost wages. The process can be complex, and you must conduct thorough research to understand how it works. Having in-depth knowledge can help you answer questions like ‘How long after a car accident can you claim an injury?’ and navigate your jurisdiction’s laws and procedures.
That said, here are a few tips to help you understand the car accident claims process:
1. Seek Medical Attention
If you’ve been in a rollover, single vehicle, intersection, or speeding accident, it’ll help to file or report the accident immediately. However, you may want to check for severe injuries first. While staying at the accident scene is vital, seeking medical attention is also crucial. You may have internal injuries you’re unaware of. It will help to take pictures of the scene before leaving as proof if the other party tries to alter it while you’re away.
While at the hospital, ask for medical receipts and x-rays to show proof of how much you spent on your hospital bills and your emotional suffering. Moreover, your car could also be severely damaged, and you may pay a substantial amount to conduct the repairs and be unable to have your vehicle for daily activities. So, don’t hesitate to file a lawsuit when you have significant evidence to prove your claim."
Once your immediate medical needs have been addressed, and you have begun to gather evidence, it's time to consider the legal aspects of your situation.
2. Seeking Legal Assistance
After deciding you want to file a claim, it’d help if you have a credible and experienced car accident lawyer to assist in handling your case. It’s a process you shouldn’t do alone, especially if you have significant injuries, face long-term disability, or the accident involves complex legal issues.
Also, insurance companies usually try their best to avoid paying your claim. Other times they may offer less compensation than you deserve to cater for all the damage you’ve encountered. However, having an attorney is helpful because they can provide valuable guidance and explain your rights, help navigate the claims process, and advocate on your behalf.
They can handle these tasks while you stay at home and recover. In addition, a lawyer can help with liability disagreements or when the accident involves multiple parties. Together with their highly skilled experts, the lawyers will assess your case, gather the necessary evidence, evaluate the damages, and help determine the appropriate compensation you should seek.
3. Collecting Evidence
As mentioned, you need credible evidence for the car accident case to be easy and quick. So, at the accident scene, take photos of the damage to your car, road and the minor injuries you might have sustained.
If there are any traffic cameras or CCTV, ask for footage because they can show exactly how the accident happened. Moreover, record the details of the eyewitness and request them to testify on your behalf if possible. In addition, write the type, year, and license plates of all the cars in the accident. Ask the officers to give you a duplicate report to check if they have accurate information.
4. Filing The Claim
Since you have a lawyer and evidence, you must contact the insurance company after the accident. It’s essential for initiating the claims process. Ensure you give accurate details about the accident, like the date, location, pictures, surveillance cameras, driver’s license, and a description of what happened. Inform them of any injuries with supporting medical reports, damages to your vehicle, and appraisal for repairs.
Your insurance provider will assist you through the following steps and may provide specific instructions on the required documentation. Follow the guidelines carefully and give any requested information promptly to avoid delays in the claims process.
5. Investigating And Evaluating The Case
The insurance provider will initiate an investigation after you report the accident to them. Their claims adjuster will review the information provided, gather additional evidence, and assess the extent of damage and injuries. The adjuster may also speak with witnesses, review police reports, and examine medical records.
During this investigation, ensure you cooperate fully and give any additional information they may request. Compliance can assist in smoothing the claims process.
6. Beginning Settlement Negotiations
If the accident results from negligence by the other party, their insurance company may offer a settlement to resolve the claim. They’ll evaluate the damages, medical expenses, and other losses from the accident and make an initial settlement offer, which you can review. Your attorney will determine whether the offer adequately compensates you for all the damages. If not, they’ll request more compensation, and if they reach an agreement, the case will be closed.
However, if your lawyer fails to reach an agreement, they’ll file a lawsuit in court and represent you during the proceedings. They’ll present all the evidence and call on witnesses during the court proceedings. The process sometimes takes longer, but you can accelerate it with an experienced attorney and get compensation.
Car accidents are unexpected, and most of the time, you aren’t to blame for them. Therefore, it’s only fair you get reimbursement for the damages and injuries you incur. So, start by looking for an attorney who understands your state’s laws and has them represent you. They’ll ensure they file a claim in time to help you get compensation.