Driving means taking a chance; driving is a risk. Each and every single time you take to the roads in a vehicle of any sort, you could be involved in an accident that could damage your car, and when that happens, you need to call your car insurance company to file a claim in order to receive reimbursement. Because accidents can cause an array of types of damage, your claim may include stolen property as well as bodily, property, and vehicle damage. Regardless of the types of damage for which you file for reimbursement, you should follow a certain process.
When To File Your Claim
Any time you are involved in any type of traffic collision, you should contact your car insurance company. Additionally, if your car is vandalized or stolen, or if your vehicle becomes damaged in an event unrelated to any type of traffic accident (such as in a fire or severe weather), you might want to consider filing a claim.
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How To File Your Claim
Call your insurance company or agent using the phone number shown on the front of your insurance card (you may also find the contact information online or in your insurance policy documents).
When you call, you will need to know or have access to the following information so you can provide it to the insurance company or agent:
- Your full name
- Your policy number
- The start and end dates of your current policy
- The date and time of the incident for which you are filing a claim
- The contact information (names, addresses, and phone numbers) of drivers, passengers, and witnesses to the accident
- Drivers license and license plate numbers for all drivers involved in the accident
You may also be required to detail the events of the accident in a sworn statement that you complete and submit to your insurance company or agent; it should include details such as the date and time of the accident as well as driving conditions like weather and the amount of daylight at the time. Be sure to include descriptions (and pictures, if you have them) of any injuries and damage resulting from the accident.
Steps Of Filing a Car Accident Insurance Claim
After you call your car insurance company, your case will be assigned to an agent, a professional who will review and work on your claim. You should meet with the agent assigned to your claim to discuss your situation and the coverage you have. Your agent may inspect your car and do research regarding your and other parties’ claims of injury, and you may receive an initial payment. If the damage done to your vehicle warrants it (i.e., if it would prevent further damage or loss), your insurance company or agent may ask you to have temporary fixes performed on your car while you are waiting for reimbursement. Make sure that the temporary fixes performed are not permanent, as they may not be reimbursed. Always maintain records and receipts (including costs to seek medical treatment and to fix your vehicle) as they apply to your car accident. As your case resolves, you may receive additional payments.
1. File a Claim
The first step after any car accident is to file a claim. Generally, you will file the claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. The driver will likely already have contacted his insurance company and they may contact you to discuss the accident. You should also report the accident to your own insurance company so they have a record of the incident. In cases where both parties are partly at fault, the insurance companies may negotiate together to come to a resolution.
2. Accident Investigation
Accidents happen very quickly and even though you may feel that you know what happened, the accident needs to be investigated. One of the key reasons for an investigation is to get proof of the cause of the accident. The negligence of the other driver must be proven. This can be done through a variety of methods, including reading the police report, speaking to witnesses, viewing video camera footage of the accident, visiting the scene of the crash, and other options.
In some cases, it is necessary to conduct a professional accident reconstruction. The insurance company is responsible for investigating the crash. However, you and your attorney will want to conduct a separate investigation.
3. Gather Documentation
You have likely been going through a lot of stress and pain throughout the recovery process. One thing that is essential is that you keep extensive records of your medical treatment and care. Request a copy of every medical record and evaluation along with copies of all your medical bills. You also need to keep copies of all medications that you obtained and any other treatments that you received, such as physical therapy. You need records from every doctor or facility, regardless of whether you paid for them at the time.
It is also necessary to keep documentation of any other costs associated with your claim. For example, if you missed work for a period of time due to your injuries you will need to have proof from your employer as well as documentation showing your regular wages. The negligent party should be responsible for any and all expenses that you incurred due to the car accident.
4. Settlement Negotiations
Most car accident claims are settled outside of court. Settlement negotiations occur between you and the insurance company. If you have legal representation your attorney will negotiate the settlement. It is often much better to have an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney handle negotiations than to try to do so yourself. You will find that the outcome is often much better and you will also have less stress and aggravation. In some cases, a settlement cannot be reached. If that happens, the case may need to go to court for a resolution.
Hiring A Car Accident Attorney
In some cases, you may consider hiring an attorney that specializes in accident claims if you were injured, as they may help expedite the process of filing your claim and receiving reimbursement. Bader Scott Injury Lawyers is very experienced in car accident cases and can help you get the compensation you deserve.
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Bodily Injury Coverage
If the accident was not your fault, then the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage will usually cover the costs incurred from the injuries you sustained in the accident. If you are a resident in a no-fault state, your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will cover the costs. Atlanta, GA does not have no-fault laws, so you are responsible for the cost.
Other coverage you may have can help pay for your injuries, too:
- Medical payments coverage can provide reimbursement for funeral costs as well as medical coverage for your passengers; it can also help pay for medical expenses related to injuries you sustained if a vehicle hit you while you were walking, running, or biking. Medical payments coverage can include accident-related dental costs, too.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage can help pay for medical costs related to an accident when the other driver carries no insurance or not enough to cover your costs.
Before you choose to raise your minimum deductible or buy the above-mentioned optional medical coverages, you should think about using the health insurance you already have in order to cover your accident-related injuries.
Handling a Bodily Injury Claim
If you get hurt in a car accident, you should do everything you can to make your personal injury claim easier. Here are some things that may make the process go smoother for you:
- Take pictures of everything, including any and all damage done (including your injuries).
- File a police report; once filed, request a copy of the report.
- See a doctor for your injuries.
- Record everything! Be sure to make note of any work time you had to miss due to your injuries (this will be necessary if you are considering filing a claim for any lost wages).
- Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for your Atlanta, GA car accident injury claim.
- Never admit fault at the scene.
Property Damage Claims
Depending on the cause of the damage and your own coverages, you may be able to file a claim for the repair of your vehicle.
Did you know that liability property damage coverage does not cover damage done to your car? Many states require it, but it only pays for damages you caused to someone else’s car in an accident it was determined that you caused. Generally speaking, only two types of coverage pay for the damage done to your vehicle:
- Collision coverage
- Comprehensive coverage covers damage done to your vehicle caused by events unrelated to traffic such as severe weather or vandalism
Types of coverage that pay for damage done to property include:
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist property damage coverage – If the driver responsible for the accident you were involved in doesn’t have car insurance, this type of insurance will reimburse your accident-related expenses.
- Gap insurance coverage – This type of insurance covers a car rental or lease when your car was declared a total loss due to damage in the accident.
- Windshield or glass coverage – When your windshield or any other glass on your car is damaged in an incident, this coverage will reimburse you for replacing it.
Handling a Property Damage Claim
After you have filed a claim for damage to your vehicle, an insurance adjuster will carefully inspect it to estimate the cost to make repairs. Taking into account the deductible amount on your car insurance policy, your insurance company will then give you a check for the amount they have determined it would take to return your car to the same working order.
If your vehicle was damaged, you should do the following in order to have your claim processed most effectively:
- Report any damage immediately. Your insurance company may offer a variety of options for how to do this, including by phone, in person, or online.
- Be sure to get any other drivers’ insurance information, and give them yours.
- A representative from your insurance company should inspect the vehicle before you make any kind of repairs.
- If necessary, make only those fixes that will prevent any further damage to your vehicle. If you fail to do so, your insurance company might not reimburse you for the damage.
- Save all documentation, including receipts for fixing your car; submit it to your insurance company.
- Provide your insurance company information any time they request it. Refusal to cooperate could spell denial of your claim.
If you were injured in a car accident or need help getting the insurance company to pay for damages, contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers at (404) 888-8888 for a consultation.