To file an auto insurance claim, you’ll typically need to contact the insurance provider, gather any necessary evidence, submit the claim on time, and provide any other information the insurer requests.
Many crash victims opt to hire a car accident lawyer to handle their auto insurance claims. This takes the time-consuming and often-frustrating process out of their hands, allowing them to focus on healing or returning to work. Their attorney builds the case and files their claim, then negotiates a fair settlement on their behalf when possible.
What Are Your First Steps to File an Insurance Claim After an Accident?
The first step in filing an auto accident claim is identifying the available insurance coverage. Many people live in states with fault-based auto insurance laws. This means they pursue a claim based on the at-fault driver’s policy. You may also have the option to file a claim with your own insurance company.
If possible, asking the other driver what insurance carrier they use at the crash scene is a good idea. If not, this information should be on the accident report filed by responding police officers.
Once you identify the insurer, it is a good idea to move on to gathering evidence to support your claim. You do not want to speak to the insurance adjuster until necessary. In fact, our attorneys warn clients not to offer any recorded statements and to let a lawyer handle all communication with the insurance company.
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How do You Build a Strong Case for Compensation After an Auto Accident?
Car accidents often occur because of one party’s carelessness or recklessness. This is usually one of the drivers involved. In order to recover compensation through an insurance claim, you may need to prove that another party caused the accident.
Crash victims must show all four elements of negligence are present to recover compensation. This includes:
- Duty of Care: The accused party owed the victim a duty of care. Drivers have a duty to follow all traffic laws, for example.
- Breach of Duty: They breached their duty of care, by running a red light, for example.
- Causation: Their action (or inaction) was the proximate cause of the accident.
- Damages: The victim suffered damages because of the accident.
Evidence You Can Use to Build Your Insurance Claim
Gathering the evidence to document negligence requires investigating what happened and building a compelling case against the at-fault driver. Each crash case is different, but some of the most common forms of evidence available in accident cases include:
- The police report filed about the accident at the scene
- Witness statements collected by police and during later interviews
- Accident scene surveys
- Accident reconstruction
- Video or photographs of the crash
- Relevant medical records
- Physical and forensic evidence
- Expert testimony about prognosis, future treatment, and other concerns
- Documentation of damages
While some of this evidence is relatively easy to obtain, some is more difficult to gather without knowledge, resources, or industry connections. For example, obtaining a copy of the police report could be as easy as requesting a copy online.
However, identifying and interviewing doctors about your future treatment needs or hiring accident reconstruction experts is more challenging for an individual. A law firm will use its own resources to handle the investigation for clients.
How Much Should the Insurance Company Pay You for Your Damages?
Before you can demand a fair payout from the insurance carrier, you must understand how much your case might be worth. This requires looking candidly at your expenses and losses, estimating future costs, and valuing your intangible losses. Some commonly recovered damages in auto accident cases include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical treatment and related expenses to date
- Future medical needs and ongoing care costs
- Lost income, current and future
- Diminished earning capacity if you cannot go back to your work
- Property damages
If you work with an attorney, this is one place where their experience handling these cases may make it easier for you. It is difficult for an individual to accurately estimate the potential value of their non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. An attorney will know how to put a potential value on these damages and negotiate to get a fair payout from the insurance company or present the case at trial.
When You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Crash Case
Many car accident victims choose to let an attorney handle their auto insurance claim from the start. This protects their rights and enables them to focus on healing from their injuries. If you choose this option, reach out as soon as your injuries allow you to make the call.
Some victims want to manage their own auto insurance claims for as long as possible. However, they may run into roadblocks and need help. This often occurs when the insurer denies the claim, refuses a fair payout, or there are other issues with negotiating a settlement. If you have an attorney working with you from the start, you may be able to avoid dealing with difficult insurers who don’t always have your best interests in mind.
Talk to a Car Accident Attorney About Your Claim for Free
Discuss your case with a lawyer from the Morris Bart law firm for free today. Our attorneys provide free initial consultations for collision victims in our service area. We have 15 offices to serve clients hurt in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Arkansas. We work on a contingency-fee basis and never ask clients for upfront payments.
Contact us now to learn more about how our attorneys can help you pursue fair compensation through an auto insurance claim. We can speak to insurers on your behalf so you can focus on recovering.
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