Whether you were the one driving, a passenger, or a pedestrian, an auto accident could cause injuries, suffering, and financial burden. As such, when an auto accident occurs, the best way to recuperate financially is through filing a personal injury claim.
The filing process can be overwhelming. Hence, you must learn the steps that need to be taken to ensure that your claim is handled correctly. Fortunately, this article shares the necessary steps—from getting medical help to hiring a legal representative like The Bishop Law Firm—to filing an auto accident injury claim. With these seven steps, you’ll be on the way to get the compensation you deserve.
Get Medical Care
Getting medical care may look like it has nothing to do with a compensation claim, but it significantly impacts whether your claim is approved or denied.
After you’re involved in an accident and sustain an injury, you must seek immediate medical treatment. This typically requires visiting your primary care clinic or the emergency room.
Even though you may feel okay after the accident and don’t see any visible injuries, you should still get medical attention. Some car accident injuries like whiplash or brain injury may only appear after a few hours, days, weeks, or even months following the accident.
By getting medical care, you can determine whether you need medication or further treatment for injuries sustained during the accident. Additionally, you’ll have medical records that serve as evidence for your claim.
Call Your Insurance Agent
While waiting for medical care, immediately calling your car insurance provider is essential. It’s always best to be the first one to contact your insurer and report the accident instead of letting the other driver or their insurer report a claim.
Brief your insurance provider about the car accident details and let them know you’re filing for a claim. Please note that some companies may have a period limit to contact them for a third-party claim. Some can restrict the claim period to 24 hours after the accident. So, you need to act fast.
Gather The Necessary Information
Once you’ve contacted your insurance provider, the next thing you need to do is to gather the necessary information about the accident. Ensure to note the location, date, time, injuries, and information of other parties involved in the accident.
You can also gather photographic evidence of the accident and witness accounts. These can serve as evidence to strengthen your claim.
File A Claim
Depending on the insurance provider, you may need to file a claim personally or online. Filing a claim aims to inform the insurance provider that you’re injured and intend to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.
When filing a claim, make sure to include the essential information you’ve gathered. Once filed, you’ll need to wait for a response from the insurer. This can take a few hours or days, depending on the provider.
In most cases, you’ll deal with an adjuster who will send you a Reservation of Rights (ROR) letter. The ROR letter acknowledges that your claim has been received and that the company is investigating the accident.
Depending on an insurer’s procedure, they may ask you to provide the necessary evidence.
Review Settlement Offer
After investigating, an insurance provider will provide a settlement offer. Make sure to review this offer thoroughly. The first settlement offer will usually be the lowest compensation possible. Also, the insurance adjuster may try to use manipulative tactics, pressuring you to accept the offer.
In this case, consult a legal expert before accepting a settlement offer. Once you accept, you’ll have to sign a waiver that prevents you from pursuing more compensation related to that specific accident. You’ll be stuck with the money the insurer initially offered.
You can reject an insurer’s settlement offer and negotiate a counteroffer. Depending on your situation, you can either demand a specific amount, request to double the amount offered, or meet them somewhere in the middle. This shows that you are open to negotiations, which will often work in your favor.
When negotiating, ensure you have enough evidence to support the amount you’re asking. Make sure to emphasize the extent of your injuries, the amount of your emotional and physical suffering, and any future issues you may experience due to the accident. Generally, your lawyer can help you negotiate a fair deal for your suffering.
Consider Legal Action
If the negotiations are successful—whether the insurer accepted your offer or you were able to meet in the middle with the final proposal—then you’ll just have to wait for the compensation.
However, if both parties disagree, you may consider taking it to court. Generally, threatening to file a lawsuit is enough to scare an insurer to provide a reasonable settlement. That said, even if things end up in court, hiring a reputable lawyer can help you fight for your rights and help you get the maximum compensation you deserve.
Filing for an auto accident injury claim doesn’t have to be daunting. You need to be extremely patient, whether you’re in the middle of an insurance claim or a lawsuit. By following the above steps, you can get the compensation you deserve.
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