Being involved in a car accident is never an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, many motorists are forced to deal with the stress and frustration of a collision long after the dust has settled as they attempt to navigate through the auto insurance claims process in pursuit of compensation for the damage to their vehicle. If you have never been involved in a collision before or had to file a claim, figuring out what paperwork to file, what to say, or what to expect can be confusing to say the least. While the exact specifics of each insurance claim will vary depending on your provider and the details of your accident, generally speaking, most claims will follow a relatively basic step-by-step process.
Reporting Your Accident
To begin, your first priority should be to report the accident to your insurer and begin the process of filing a claim. Once your insurance company is notified, an adjuster will contact you regarding your claim and review your policy to determine your coverage, deductibles, and limits. Simple claims where fault is not an issue, damage is minimal, and medical treatments are unnecessary are generally dealt with swiftly and will involve little more than getting a damage estimate and sending you a check. If liability for your accident is unclear or if you do not agree with your insurance company’s settlement offer, the process will become more complex.
Investigating Your Claim
Complicated accident claims involving injury will typically involve some sort of investigation into the cause of your crash in order for your insurance company to accurately gauge its level of financial responsibility. This will likely include:
- Contacting witnesses to your crash
- Interviewing the other involved drivers
- Examining police reports
- Assessing damage to your vehicle
- Contacting doctors regarding your medical treatments
If you are seeking coverage for your medical expenses, your adjuster may send you a form requesting you authorize the release of your medical records. Do not sign this form! This will grant them access to your entire medical history and give them the opportunity to search for some reason to imply that your injuries were due to a preexisting medical condition, allowing them to deny your claim. If you receive an authorization request of any kind, contact your attorney immediately.
Receiving a Settlement Offer
Once your adjuster has sufficiently investigated your claim and reviewed the terms of your policy, they will then send you a settlement offer detailing what they are willing to pay. In many cases, this initial offer is much lower than what you actually deserve, since an adjuster’s main job is to save the insurance company money. If you disagree with this settlement amount and have evidence to support what you believe your claim to be worth, you may submit a demand letter with a counteroffer and pursue continued negotiations. Once you settle, however, your case is closed and you will no longer be able to pursue any further compensation from your insurance company. In other words, if you settle for too low of an amount, you will be financially responsible for any losses you may have incurred that exceed the limits of your settlement.
Having a knowledgeable attorney on your side is crucial during this stage. A lawyer will be able to handle negotiations on your behalf and ensure your rights as a policyholder are guarded at all times. In many cases, attorneys are able to help clients secure settlements that are multiple times greater than what they would have been able to recover on their own. Likewise, your attorney will be able to help you contest any unfair delays, denials, or limitations and protect you against any bad faith tactics.
At Accident Attorneys, our Lancaster car accident lawyers are intimately familiar with the way insurance companies work and can provide the aggressive representation you need to maximize your potential recovery. Backed by more than 75 years of combined legal experience and a track record of more than $1 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements for clients throughout the Antelope Valley, you can trust us to guard your rights and help you get through this difficult time as smoothly as possible.
Call (661) 261-4929 today to schedule your complimentary case review.