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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UPDATED: Jan 7, 2021

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

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?

The most important thing to do is to get the medical attention you need immediately. If you do not need to go to the hospital right away make sure that you seek medical attention as soon as possible so a doctor can diagnose your injuries and get you treatment if required. The insurance company will not give credibility to a car injury claim unless there is a medical record! Simply saying that you are in pain or discomfort will not be sufficient to collect money.

How do insurance companies determine pain and suffering?

When you get medical treatment, be sure the doctor notes the severity of injuries, any physical signs of injuries, and any symptoms you will experience as a result of being hurt in the accident. It is important that you follow the doctor’s orders, and keep track of any expenses you pay along the way.

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

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How should you file your bodily injury claim?

So, 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. 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.

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 is sprain neck, back, and ankles. The aches and pains may stay with you for a while. You don’t need an attorney to help you with this type of injury, especially when the liability is clear.
  • Hard Injury – Examples of this injury would be broken bones, ligaments or cartilage damage, spinal disk rupture, or vertebra dislocation. These types of injuries can bring high bodily injury 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 better negotiated with an attorney.
  • 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 the insurance industry of money, so you will need to prove some type of treatment or medication in order to receive compensation for a whiplash claim.
  • Head Injury – Head injuries can range from skull fractures or soft tissue injuries like contusion. Head injuries are serious. 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.
  • Spinal Cord – These 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 and 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, the immediate medical needs, and the long-term effects. Your car injury claim should reflect your entire costs, so keep accurate track throughout the process.

What is covered under bodily injury insurance?

Bodily injury liability coverage allows accident victims to apply for a range of expenses. 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 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. 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 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.

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Did you document your treatment for your car injury settlement?

Successfully documenting your treatment for your car injury settlement is crucial to getting the best settlement possible. 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 treatment
  • 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. Keep track of all your doctor reports and medical expenses including costs for any medicine, mileage to and from the doctors, and any assistance that you had to pay for the help you during your 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 treatment is an important part of your claim and should be well documented.

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 documentation.

You can negotiate the best car accident settlement on your own, but you need to be prepared to prove the cause of your injury, the severity of your pain, and the treatment you need. If you find yourself with a debilitating injury or find that the medical bills and medical records are too much compile for you to do it on your own, you should consult a car accident attorney. An attorney will be able to compile the information you need and negotiate your car injury settlement with the insurance company.