Car accidents can be traumatic events with a wide range of physical, emotional, and financial consequences. Knowing what to do when you’re involved in an accident and the necessary steps to take when filing a claim, as well as what to expect from the process, can help make the process easier and less stressful.
According to Rich Barnes, a respected personal injury attorney out of San Francisco, knowing what to do after an auto accident can help you protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
Even if you are uncertain of who is at fault, it’s essential to gather evidence, document details, and take certain steps to ensure that your claim is successful.
This blog post will provide some key insights into the car accident claims process, including the importance of hiring an experienced attorney and what to expect when filing a claim. Keep reading to find out all you need to know before filing your car accident claim.
Gather Evidence and Document Details
Evidence plays an important role in insurance claims. Fragmented memories fade with time and can be altered by emotions, meaning that the details in your memories may be inconsistent or inaccurate. Evidence, on the other hand, is factual and cannot be altered by emotion or memory issues.
This is why gathering and documenting evidence is so important when filing car accident claims. Make a note of the weather conditions and the road conditions at the time of the accident.
Did it happen in the rain or snow? Was the road icy or wet? Did you experience heavy traffic due to a sporting event? These details can help to pinpoint the cause of the accident. Don’t forget to take photographs of the accident scene and any damage to vehicles and property.
Take photographs of the other driver and their vehicle, as well as any witnesses. At the very least, photograph your own injuries. Take note of the details of any medical treatment you receive.
If you see a doctor or visit the emergency room, note the date and time. Keep a record of your treatment details and the costs for both short-term and long-term treatment.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Before you proceed with filing your claim, it is important to contact your insurance company and gather your insurance policy information. You’ll need to provide this information to the at-fault driver’s insurance company to resolve the claim.
You will also want to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, as they may request a police report number and other documents to process your claim. If you fail to report the accident to your insurance company within 30 days of the accident, your claim may be denied, even if you are successful in your lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
In general, you should do your best to cooperate with your insurance company. Be honest about the facts surrounding the accident, and provide them with any relevant documentation.
Your insurance company has a vested interest in seeing that you are compensated for any damages. The sooner you report the accident to your insurance company, the sooner they can help you resolve the claim.
Hire an experienced attorney
If you have been injured in an accident, you should strongly consider hiring an experienced attorney. Your attorney will help guide you through the process, gather evidence, and negotiate on your behalf.
An attorney can also help make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. While it’s possible to handle your claim without an attorney, you will likely have an easier time and better outcome if you hire one.
Since insurance companies are typically on the other end of the table, having an experienced attorney on your side is often the best course of action. Your attorney should either work on a contingency basis, meaning they will only be compensated if you win, or have an hourly rate that is reasonable.
Understand the Claims Process
The claims process after a car accident can be stressful, but understanding the process and its potential stages can help you manage your expectations throughout the process.
Be sure to keep in mind that every case is different and the process could differ. You should expect the following stages in the claims process:
The insurance company’s first step is to investigate the accident to determine the cause of the accident, determine who is liable, and gather any evidence relating to the accident.
After the insurance company has gathered all of the information they need, they will typically approach you with a settlement offer. This is when you will have the opportunity to negotiate with the insurance company to increase the amount of your settlement.
In the case where there’s no agreement between you and the insurance company on a settlement amount or if the insurance company does not offer you a reasonable amount for your claim, your case will proceed to trial.
Know the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits
While the statute of limitations for claiming your injuries is typically two years, it also varies from state to state, and there are some differences in the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits, such as the type of claim you are filing.
For example, in some states, if you have sustained serious and permanent injuries, such as a brain injury, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for damages, such as costs for medical treatment and lost wages.
If your car was damaged, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for damages. If you don’t file a lawsuit within the specified period, you lose your right to file a claim and collect compensation for the damage done to your car or your injuries.
This is why it’s important to hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible after you are involved in an accident. Your attorney will know the applicable statutes of limitations in your state and make sure that you file your claim in a timely manner.
These are just some of the major things you need to know before filing a claim to ensure that your claim is successful and that you receive the compensation you deserve for damage to your property (your car) and your injuries.