Getting injured in an accident can be very stressful, but it is important to follow certain steps after a collision if you want to be compensated by your insurance company. Given how much the average person pays for insurance every year, all the steps you have to go through to get a decent settlement may seem fairly ridiculous. Still, it is important to collect all the information you will need, to make the process of filing a claim go smoothly.
What to do at the Scene
When you have an accident, you should pull over to the side of the road, see if anyone is injured, and call the police. You should get the names of any witnesses and take pictures while you wait for the police to arrive. You should also exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.
Once the police arrive, you should ask for a copy of the accident report. Most attorneys will advise you not to admit to guilt at the scene. Even if you think you caused the accident, there may be some evidence of which you are unaware.
Go to the Doctor
If an ambulance arrives at the scene and the EMTs advise you to go to the hospital, you absolutely should. You should visit the doctor's office soon after a crash, even if you don't feel any pain. Some injuries take a while to manifest themselves.
You should save every doctor bill that you get as well as any bills that you have from physical therapy or alternative treatments. Be sure to collect the receipts from any prescription and non-prescription medications that you take.
You will also want to save the receipts for any extra services that you have required while you have been injured. This would include such things as Lyft and Uber rides, household cleaning, and childcare.
You will have to ask your employer to write you a letter stating the number of hours you have missed from work along with the wages that you have lost. If you are self-employed, you may want to gather such things as tax returns and bank statements.
Contact Your Insurance Company
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. They will ask you a series of questions, and they will require you to send in the documentation of your accident. They will contact the responsible driver's insurance company on your behalf.
The insurance company will have 40 days to accept or deny your claim. If they accept your claim, they will make you a settlement offer. You should never accept that offer without talking to an attorney. According to Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer Timothy J. Ryan, Insurance companies are notoriously stingy, and they are unlikely to offer you a fair settlement initially.
Hire an Attorney
If the offer the insurance company makes is unfair, you will want to contact an attorney. A professional personal injury will be able to negotiate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf. They will have years of experience in dealing with insurance companies, and they will know how to get you the money that you deserve.