When a person is injured in an accident, they will undoubtedly have to contend with a great deal of pain and multiple medical appointments. They will miss time off of work and they may suffer from anxiety and depression.
The aftermath of an accident can be very expensive and that is why there are so many personal injury lawsuits. Most personal injury lawsuits will be settled out of court. If you have been injured in an accident, there are a few things you should know if you plan to seek compensation from an insurance company.
What to do when You Have an Accident
When you have a crash with another vehicle, you should pull over to the side of the road and call the police. You should then wait for law enforcement to arrive. When they get there, you should request a copy of the accident report. You should also take pictures and get the names of witnesses if you can.
You should never admit to guilt at the scene of the accident, even if you think you caused it. There may be circumstances of which you are not aware that factored into the crash.
You should go to the hospital right away even if you don’t feel you need to. There are injuries that can manifest themselves months after an accident.
Establishing the Cost of the Accident
Whenever you go to the doctor, you should ask them to write you a note detailing your progress and save a copy of the bill. You should save the bills from any physical therapy or alternative treatments that you have had. You should also save the receipts for any prescription or non-prescription medication that you may have needed to take.
Remember that visits to psychotherapists and group therapy for any psychological problems you are experiencing may be considered medical expenses.
Be sure to ask your company’s HR Director to provide you with a letter stating the number of hours you have missed from work and are likely to miss in the future. If you have needed any assistance with house cleaning or childcare, you will want to document those expenses as well.
According to Grossman Law Offices, most insurance companies should also pay for your transportation to and from doctor’s appointments, so save your receipts for gas or Lyft and Uber rides.
If you have missed any important life events due to your accident, you may want to document those as well. You should save things like airline receipts and tickets to any events that you may have missed.
Calling The Insurance Company
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible. The representative that you talk to will ask you questions about your accident and tell you what paperwork they need you to send to them. They are likely to ask you if they can tape-record the call, but you do not have to let them.
If they ask you a question about the accident to which you do not know the answer, simply tell them that you do not know. They may try to trip you up and get you to admit fault even if the other driver caused the accident.
The insurance company will have two weeks to acknowledge your claim. They will ask you for any paperwork that they might need from you and you will have a couple of weeks to send it in. They will then have 30 days to accept or deny your claim. If they accept your claim, they will make you a settlement offer. They will then have 30 days to pay your claim if you accept the settlement. You should never accept an insurance company’s offer until you have had a chance to talk to a personal injury lawyer.
There are two kinds of insurance rules in the United States, fault and no-fault. In a no-fault state a person’s own insurance company pays for their medical bills and auto repair expenses no matter who caused the accident. In a fault State, the person who was negligent is responsible for the accident-related bills.
California is a fault state, more specifically it has a pure comparative negligence insurance rule. This means that each driver is financially responsible for the amount of the accident that they caused. Even if you were 90% at fault, you can still be compensated for your injuries. You would be able to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company for 10% of your accident-related bills. As you can imagine, insurance companies do not like this, and they have been trying to change the law for years via ballot measures and legislative lobbying.
Finding an Attorney
Insurance adjusters are notoriously tight-fisted, therefore it is important to find an attorney who has years of experience in dealing with insurance companies. An attorney will know the ins and outs of negotiating with an insurance adjuster. They will be apprised of any subtle changes to the law that may affect your claim.
An insurance company is much more likely to take you seriously if you have an attorney by your side. In the unlikely event that you have to go to court, an attorney will be familiar with the process of filing a lawsuit and they will be able to subpoena records.
Make sure the law firm you hire has the time to devote to your case and a stellar reputation with the state bar association. You can also ask your attorney for references. If they have been in business for a while, they should have somebody who is willing to vouch for them. You can also look online for reviews, but bear in mind that those kinds of critiques can be paid for and are often not accurate.
An accident of any kind can be devastating. Your insurance company should help you rather than hinder you. Solid legal representation will help get you the money you deserve.