When involved in a collision, it is common to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. To ensure that you don’t make a disastrous mistake, keep a copy of these car accident claim tips in your glove box. If the worst should happen, having this list available will help you perform the correct actions so that you can protect yourself and preserve your potential rights.
Car Accident Claim Tips
The first steps immediately following an accident are fairly straightforward, but they’re sometimes forgotten in the chaos that follows a collision. Use our car accident claim tips to evade simple (but potentially devastating) missteps.
First, you should remain at the scene of the collision and call 911. While you are waiting for help to arrive, check in with the other drivers. If anyone was injured, call an ambulance and render aid if needed. If you can, take photographs of the vehicles involved as well as the area where the accident happened. Jot down details such as what happened, the makes and models of the other vehicles, the license plates, and the contact information of all the drivers and witnesses.
When the officers arrive, tell them what happened but do not accept blame. Some drivers who cause accidents will try to blame the other drivers. Accepting blame that the other driver places on you may hurt your potential accident claim.
Finally, make sure to get checked out by your doctor even if you do not think that you were hurt. Some serious injuries such as internal bleeding and whiplash might not evince symptoms for hours after your accident. A prompt diagnosis and proper treatment can shorten your recovery time while also demonstrating a causal link between your injuries and the accident.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
One of the first calls that most people receive after they have been involved in a car accident is from a claims adjuster. Claims adjusters are employed by insurance companies, and it is important for you to keep this in mind when they call. While they may be very courteous, you should remember that their loyalties lie with their employers rather than with you. Part of an insurance adjuster’s job is to minimize the losses that his or her employer will have to pay for your claim.
Although you may tell the insurance company where your vehicle is located and allow them to view and photograph it, do not authorize them to move or alter the vehicle. If you do, important evidence such as ECM/black-box evidence and accurate photos can be lost, and the insurance company could dispose of the vehicle. Hire an attorney to preserve this evidence beforehand.
Do not agree to explain what happened in the accident or to discuss injuries with the adjuster, and do not agree to give a recorded interview. Insurance companies use inadvertent statements that people make against themselves in their claims so that they can reduce the settlement amounts. Instead, you can politely tell the adjuster that you do not want to talk about the accident with him or her until you have had a chance to discuss it with a personal injury attorney. Once you retain a lawyer, he or she can handle the claims negotiations for you.
Similarly, you should not agree to sign a medical authorization that is sent to you by the insurance company. If you do, the insurance company will use it to dig through your entire medical history in an attempt to blame your injuries on an earlier incident. You should likewise not sign a settlement offer until you have had a chance to review it with your lawyer. Insurance companies sometimes send offers that are substantially lower than what the victims might receive with a lawyer’s help. If you accept an unreasonably low offer, you might find that it is not enough to cover your losses. Once you have signed an agreement for a settlement offer, you won’t be able to seek more money to cover your losses.
After your accident, the insurance company might tell you that you must take your vehicle to its preferred shop. You are able to take your vehicle to the shop of your choice, however. The mechanics will give you an estimate of the repair costs or inform you if the vehicle is a total loss. If your vehicle is repairable, the insurance company and the shop will negotiate in order to reach an agreed-upon price. You will need to pay the amount of your deductible if the accident was your fault. If it was the other driver’s fault, you will not be required to pay it because his or her insurance company will be responsible for the repairs.
Of all our car accident claim tips, finding a reputable attorney is the most important. If you’ve been injured, your attorney can help you place a value on your claim and then use the valuation to send a demand to the insurance company. If the company does not accept the demand, the attorney may begin the process of negotiations. If no agreement is reached, your lawyer may file a formal lawsuit and pursue your claim through the court litigation process.
In most cases, you can resolve your property damage claims while your personal injury claim is still pending. A majority of personal injury cases reach settlements before they go to trial. However, it is important that you find an experienced personal injury attorney who will prepare your case as if it will go to trial. In doing so, your attorney may build a stronger case for you so that the insurance company offers a reasonable settlement, allowing you to avoid further litigation.
Accidents can be devastating and overwhelming, so make certain to follow these car accident claim tips. And if you or someone you love has been involved in a collision, remember that you don’t have to face the fight for fair compensation alone. Contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave, and schedule a free initial consultation to explore your options. We can help you determine the best course of action so that you can obtain the maximum compensation you deserve and the best outcome for your claim.