How to File a Bodily Injury Claim After a Car Accident

If you've been injured in a car accident, you have a number of options. One of the most effective ways to get the help you need is filing a bodily injury claim after a car accident with the at-fault driver's insurance company. Federal and state laws allow accident victims to pursue compensation for damages. Bodily injury claims allow the victims to reimburse medical treatment costs, legal fees, and lost wages.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Filing a car injury claim to recover compensation for any pain individuals suffered in a car accident is an important process to be prepared for. If you have been hurt in an accident, you need to properly follow the auto accident insurance claims process.

Read on to find out how to file a bodily injury claim after a car accident. If you need further help from an attorney, just enter your ZIP code below.

What should you do after a car accident injury?

One of the trickiest things after an auto accident is knowing you’ve been injured. Your adrenaline is pumping, and you feel great. You don’t feel any pain until the next day. So you send the ambulance away without getting checked out, and you may even tell the cop you’re fine.

Ideally, you should get checked out at the scene no matter how you feel. The most important thing to do is to get the medical attention you need when you do feel it. The sooner you make it to the doctor, the easier it is for insurance companies to connect your injuries to the accident. In some cases, the clock is ticking, and injuries will get worse without treatment.

Some people suffer in silence. They assume that because their pain is minor or they didn’t break a bone, they’re not really injured. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and it could lead to long-term complications. Unfortunately, if you don’t see a doctor, simply saying that you are in pain or discomfort will not be enough to file a claim.

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How do insurance companies determine pain and suffering?

Pain and suffering can be one of the most inexact parts of injury liability coverage. Unless you have a broken bone or something that clearly shows up on tests, how can insurance auditors know what you feel?

Whether you see a doctor, nurse, or chiropractor, documentation is essential. Describe what you’re feeling in detail, and work with a professional who will chart it as you go. Even things that seem small now could affect your claim later on.

If there are relevant tests available, use them to your advantage. Finally, it is important that you follow the doctor’s orders and keep track of any expenses you pay along the way. If your doctor tells you to stay off your feet, continuing to perform a manual labor job could be seen as a contributing or aggravating factor that could affect your insurance coverage.

If you have been seriously hurt in a car accident, then you should consult with an attorney before starting the personal injury claim process!

How should you file your bodily injury claim?

How long do you have to report an injury from a car accident? When you have received the necessary medical attention, you will need to know how to file a bodily injury claim. Don’t delay the process. You should file your claim as soon as possible. Even a small delay could affect an insurance company’s decision in the same way property damage liability could be affected for damage reported later on.

When preparing to file a claim, do so with the responsible driver’s insurance company. Whether you were in a car, on a bike, or walking when the accident occurred, you can file the bodily injury insurance claim with the other driver’s insurer.

After filing the claim, you will be working with an adjuster for the insurance company. Be careful when dealing with the insurance adjuster! The insurance company may try to limit or deny your claim, and you cannot give them a reason to do so by making a mistake when you file.
Have all the documentation that explains the accident and details the medical treatment you have received and will continue to receive. As the claim process goes on, keep all documents related to your treatment, and make sure the insurance company is aware of your progress. Also, be sure you stay on top of the issue until you get the car accident injury settlement amounts you deserve. If you have doubts, don’t be afraid to reach out to a bodily injury coverage attorney for advice or guidance.

How can your injury be classified?

There are many different types of injuries that can occur in a car accident. Some are worth a higher value in a car insurance settlement. So make sure you get a proper diagnosis of any injury that you suffer and adjust your claim accordingly.

  • Soft Tissue – Examples of this type of injury include sprained neck, back, and ankles. The aches and pains may stay with you for a while. You don’t need injury attorneys to help you with this type of injury, especially when the liability is clear. It can be the hardest injury to measure and prove, though.
  • Hard Injury – Examples of injury include broken bones, ligaments or cartilage damage, spinal disk rupture, or vertebra dislocation. This type of injuries can bring high bodily injury liability claim settlement amounts. They can also bring lingering disabilities and pain. The car insurance settlements should include compensation for any pain or disability. These types of settlements are typically the ones we imagine when reading about personal injury cases.
  • Whiplash – Whiplash is classified as the back and forth snapping of an individual head, caused by a sudden stop or start of a motor vehicle. Over the years, the term whiplash has been misused to the point of creating suspicion of the intent to defraud. So you will need to prove you received some type of treatment or medication in order to receive compensation.
  • Head Injury – Head injuries can range from skull fractures or soft tissue injuries like contusion. Everything from CAT scans to MRI’s can be used to document your injury. Lasting effects such as memory loss and headaches are also a possibility. So make sure your doctor documents your ailments and ongoing problems in the medical reports to support personal injury protection claims.
  • Spinal Cord – These physical injuries are serious and can cause debilitating injuries including paralysis and permanent disability. Injuries like these should be reviewed by an accident injury claim attorney in order for you to get the maximum car injury settlement possible.
  • Residual or Permanent Injury – Any permanent effects of a car accident can cause the car injury claim to increase in value. If you suffer a limp, have a bad back, have significant and visible scarring, or experience any other permanent reminder of your car accident, then make sure you adequately document every expense related to the treatment of your injury. This is the only way to get the full compensation you are owed.

There are many more important types of injury than listed here. So whenever you get treatment, make sure the doctor specifies the nature of the damage done to your body, the immediate medical needs, and the long-term effects. Your car injury claim should reflect your entire costs.

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What is covered under bodily injury insurance?

Bodily injury liability coverage allows accident victims to apply for a range of benefits. These may involve costs like medical expenses and legal fees. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident and would like to get compensation through bodily injury insurance, damages may include:

  • Medical costs – this refers to medical expenses resulting from the accident and any bodily injuries sustained during it (doctor visits, physical therapy, and even emergency medical transport from the accident scene)
  • Lost wages – Many car accidents are severe, and victims must take some time off work to recover. Some people are hurt badly that they are prevented from going back to work for weeks or at all. This can result in lost wages and reduced income.
  • Legal fees – as you begin the auto accident insurance claim process, you’ll need an experienced injury attorney to advise you for any information regarding the accident. Hiring an attorney costs money, and these legal fees are payable via bodily injury liability.

Did You Document Your Medical Care?

Insurance policies are based on documenting risk. They also have to investigate claims and injuries. Successfully documenting your treatment for your car injury settlement can be the difference between damage liability coverage and no coverage. Make sure your physician or medical professional clearly details in the medical reports the extent of your injury and your treatment by providing documentation that contains the following:

  • Date of your injury
  • How the injury occurred (motor vehicle accident)
  • Prognosis and length of treatments
  • Note any medication you must take
  • Outline any scarring or disability
  • Outline any ongoing pain management necessary
  • Potential for further injury in the future

See the Free Advice Car Accident Checklist to ensure you have all of the information you need to effectively negotiate your settlement.

You need to be prepared to provide the insurance company with medical bills, doctor reports, and x-ray or radiology reports to substantiate your claim. Injured people should keep track of all doctor reports and medical expenses including costs for any medicine, mileage to and from the doctors, and any assistance that had to be paid for the help during the injury.

If you are experiencing emotional distress, you should have your treating physician document the distress in detail. Emotional distress can be severe and devastating. So do not underestimate the importance of getting proper treatment and including it on your car injury claim. Emotional distress can cause eating problems, mental nervousness requiring therapy, and stress that can affect relationships and employment. Any charge for treatments is an important part of your claim and shouldn’t be left off.

Your car injury settlement should also note any lost vacation time, missed recreational time, and missed special events. Providing used tickets to a special event or a statement from your employer about lost vacation time can be helpful.

You can negotiate the best car accident settlement on your own. An experienced personal injury attorney could get you thousands more within your policy limits, especially if you are not the at fault party. They can compile the information you need and negotiate a fair settlement for you.

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