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Complete Guide to the Car Accident Claims and Settlements Process 

By: Anapol Weiss

The car accident claims process can be confusing and sometimes seems insurmountable. With the right preparation, documentation, and persistence, however, you can get the car accident insurance claim settlement you need to mitigate the financial damages you’ve suffered and help you get back on your feet.

An experienced personal injury attorney takes the guesswork out of auto accident claims by guiding you through the process and making sure your rights are protected so you get every penny you deserve.

Insurance’s Role In Car Accident Claims

When there’s a car accident, you usually won’t be dealing directly with the driver of the other vehicle. Even in accidents with large commercial vehicles, the claims process often doesn’t begin with the company employing the driver but with their insurance company. This process was lobbied for by insurers to enhance their leverage over vehicle owners and streamline their claims process, but it isn’t always friendly to car accident victims.

Before an insurance company considers car accident claims, there is certain information they need from the accident victims. Insurance companies make money by taking in more money in premiums than they pay out in claims, so it is in their interest to find a reason to deny you the amount you’re owed or convince you to settle for a smaller amount.

To improve your chances of getting a favorable car accident claim settlement, additional documentation and evidence may be required. With the right documentation, evidence, and possibly, the help of a good lawyer, you can prove the insurance company’s responsibility to issue a car accident insurance claim settlement under the policy they issued to the covered driver.

The Auto Accident Claims Process

You may not be prepared to consider a claim immediately after a car accident, but that’s exactly when the process starts for you. One of the steps you should take immediately after a car accident is to collect the pertinent insurance information from the other driver. This includes not just their personal information but their insurance information so you can file a claim. If safe, you’ll also want to gather a few other pieces of info at the scene.

  • Police Report Information – While the police department’s car accident report itself won’t be available at the scene of the accident, the responding officer’s name, a report number, and information about when the accident report will be available will help you make sure you get a copy of the report for your motor vehicle accident claim.
  • Witness Information – Be sure to get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Witness statements can be a determining factor in getting a car accident insurance claim settlement.
  • Pictures – A picture is worth a thousand words. If possible, take pictures from several different angles of the car accident scene. These can help not only prove the events that led to the crash, but indicate each driver’s actions, document road conditions, and provide a record of damages.

Filing a Car Accident Claim With Your Insurer

Car accident claims are a lot easier to file now than they used to be, with much of the initial process being done online. While you can still call to begin a claim, online claims filing allows you to upload documents and pictures immediately. It also allows you to start the claims process almost immediately if there are no injuries.

If you or a passenger was injured, you can begin the claims process, but be sure to make the carrier aware medical attention is needed and ongoing. Make sure as you’re filing your claim that you are truthful, include as much detail as you can, and avoid statements which may be used to justify finding you partially liable for the accident.

You will be assigned a representative or adjuster who works with your claim. They’ll review it based on your documentation and the policy provisions. You’ll stay in touch with them on developments as your car is repaired, you pursue medical care, and you work through the process of recovery.

While they are your primary point of contact, it’s important to remember they are not your friend. The adjuster works for the insurance company, and their job directly affects the bottom line of the carrier. Be careful what information you share with them and that you never phrase your communication in a way that can be used to imply your recovery is complete or repairs are finished when there’s any risk of further care being needed.

Read Insurance Communications Carefully

After the claim is filed you need to be careful of communications from the insurance company. They may ask you to sign a version of your statement they prepared, accept a settlement offer that doesn’t reflect the damages you’ve suffered, or otherwise try to rush through paperwork that limits your right to pursue actual damages.

If you have any questions about any communications you receive from them, it’s time to talk to your attorney.

Bringing An Attorney Into Auto Accident Claims

Your attorney acts as your advisor and advocate during the claims process. Even if you don’t go to court, which many car accident insurance claim settlement processes don’t, they’re still there to fight for your cause and protect your rights as you work toward the compensation you deserve.

They’ll help you review communications from the insurance company, negotiate on your behalf for a beneficial outcome, and guide you through putting together a rock-solid collection of evidence that proves your case and forces the insurance company to pay for the damages you’ve suffered.

You can start working with an attorney free of charge when you schedule an initial consultation with Anapol Weiss. Our experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys are well-versed in car accident claims and will help you understand the path forward so you can get the money you need for property damages, medical bills, lost wages, and more. Contact us today and start rebuilding your life.