How to File Personal Injury Claims After a Car Accident
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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When you are injured in a car accident and you are not at fault, you may an accident injury claim with the company insuring the party at fault. You should immediately advise the insurance carrier of the party at fault that you incurred injury during the accident.
Things to Know About Accident Fault and Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims may have a dollar limit or strict rules regarding when you can and cannot sue. Most states use a fault-based system, and if the party you are filing a claim against was partially or totally at fault for the accident, you will work with the other driver’s insurance company. Be wary of accepting the first settlement offer you receive, as typically it will be lower than what you think your bodily injury claim is worth. You will need to negotiate your auto insurance injury claim if you do not get a fair settlement offer.
In a no-fault state, however, you file your injury claim under a special coverage on your own policy called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). In this case, you will need to work with your own insurance company. You may still sue the responsible party, but usually only if there were serious injuries or death.
TIP:Perhaps the most important thing to keep when learning how to file an accident injury claim and working with an insurance company is to know when you can handle it yourself and when to consult an experienced auto accident attorney.
What Happens After You File Personal Injury Claims
The person who will handle your insurance claim for injury compensation after the accident is called a claims adjuster. He or she may want to take a recorded statement from you regarding the facts of the accident, the damage to the vehicles, and details about your injury. It is the adjuster’s job to gather as much information about the accident to determine how much the personal injury claim is worth. The adjuster’s goal is to mitigate any damages for the insurance company, thereby reducing the over all pay out for settlement of the claim. You need to be honest with them, but be careful about your word choice.
TIP:If you have a significant injury, use Free Advice to find an experienced lawyer prior to talking to the claims adjuster. Talking to a car accident attorney will help you maximize the value you recover in a claim settlement.
Once the insurance company has your claim for bodily injury, you will be asked to supply sufficient documentation to support your claim. This may include proof of any time missed from work or any out of pocket expense or mileage to and from the doctor. If you are self-employed, this may include your income tax records for the previous year or more. Documentation supporting any other expenses you may be claiming could be requested. Documentation such as receipts for travel to medical appointments, cancelled checks to pay a housekeeper if you couldn’t take care of your home yourself are just a few examples.
TIP:Keep ALL of your documentation for expenses related to a car accident injury, and be prepared to present it when asked.
Accident Injury Compensation and Medical Authorization Forms
When you seek insurance compensation for your medical bills, the company will request that you sign a medical authorization form allowing them to obtain your medical records and bills from your treating healthcare providers. Once all the information is gathered, the insurance company will use this information to negotiate a settlement with you or your attorney. Whether your claim is with your own insurance company or with the other driver’s insurance company, you will likely be asked to sign one. An authorization letter which accompanies the form will request your signature on the form and requesting that you return the same to the insurance carrier.
While an authorization saves you from having to collect this documentation from your healthcare providers yourself, keep in mind that insurance companies don’t do this to be helpful;they do it to get information about you!
TIP:Watch the wording of the authorization. By signing it, you could be providing them with the ability to obtain any and all of your medical records, whether related to the accident or not, possibly proving preexisting conditions or prior injury. If you are not sure what the authorization is requesting, consult with an auto insurance attorney prior to signing the form.
The aftermath of any auto accident can be stressful especially if it involves filing a bodily injury claim and filling out a medical authorization form. If you are ever in doubt or have a serious injury that involves extensive recovery time with mounting medical bills, consult an attorney for advice on how to proceed. For more information or to get the advice of an attorney on your accident, click here to find experienced auto accident attorneys in your area.
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