What to Expect From A Car Accident Claim?
After being involved in a car accident, it’s essential to understand the claims process to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you know what to expect.
1. Immediate Steps Post-Accident
Safety First: Ensure everyone involved is safe and seek medical attention if needed.
Report the Accident: Notify the police to get an official report, especially if there are significant damages or injuries.
Document Everything: Take photos of the scene, vehicles, and any injuries. Gather contact and insurance information from all parties involved. Remember to obtain the names and phone numbers of any witnesses as well.
2. Filing the Claim
Contact Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurer about the accident as soon as possible. They will guide you through their specific claims process. Obtain the claim number along with the name and contact information of the adjuster. If requested, provide them with the accident report, your account of the event, documentation of damages, and any medical records, if injuries are involved.
Contact the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company: Contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company to ensure that a claim has been opened. Obtain the claim number along with the name and contact information of the adjuster. Be careful, however, if they ask you to provide a “recorded statement.” This statement can be a pitfall for the unwary.
3. The Investigation
Insurance Adjuster: Your insurance company will assign an adjuster to investigate the claim. They assess vehicle damage, review medical reports, and determine fault and liability.
4. Vehicle Repairs and Medical Treatment
Vehicle Assessment: Take your vehicle to a body shop of your choice. Depending on your auto insurance policy, either your own insurance company can pay for the repairs or the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier can do so. Provide the applicable claim number to the body shop.
Medical Treatment: If you are injured, obtain medical treatment promptly. If you have an Oregon automobile insurance policy, your own insurance company should pay for your initial, collision-related medical expenses as part of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
5. Settlement Negotiation
Initial Offer: The at-fault driver’s insurance company often makes an early settlement offer. These “cookie-cutter” offers are often minimal and designed to pressure people to settle quickly. This is a trap that many injured claimants fall into. They settle their case before realizing the full extent of the harm done to them. Before agreeing to a settlement, you should consult with an experienced injury lawyer.
6. Legal Consultation
Seek Legal Advice: Before you begin the injury claims process, or if you are currently in the midst of it, it’s a good idea to seek guidance from a lawyer who regularly works on these types of cases. The lawyer can answer your questions, provide guidance, and warn you about common insurance company tactics.
Understanding the car accident claim process can alleviate some of the stress associated with post-accident procedures. Remember, every accident and claim is unique. Keeping detailed records, understanding your insurance policy, and seeking professional advice are key to navigating the process successfully.
Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers focus on vehicle crashes, personal injury, and first-party car accident insurance claims. They have offices located in Gresham and Hillsboro.