5 Big Tips for Filing a Car Accident Insurance Claim the Right Way
As we shared in the Your Complete Guide to Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer chapter on auto injury settlements, the settlement and claims process begins at the accident scene, even before you file your car accident insurance claim.
There are many actions you need to make sure you take following an auto accident—and one big thing you need to make sure you don’t do—to set the stage for a better claims experience, whether you’ve been seriously injured or not. Today’s post offers a few tips on those actions.
Of course, sometimes, insurance companies aren’t cooperative, especially in cases where injuries are involved. They often try to close claims much too quickly, and accident victims are left with insufficient compensation for their injuries. This is why it is imperative to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer when you’re hurt in a vehicle accident.
1. If Possible, Take Detailed Notes and Photos Immediately After the Accident
Unfortunately, if you’ve been severely injured in an auto accident and require medical transport from the scene directly to a hospital, you will not be able to complete this kind of thorough documentation yourself. Do not worry in these situations, however. You will have medical records and police reports to draw from when filing a claim later. Concentrate on getting treatment and healing from your injuries.
Gather More Than Just Insurance Information from Other Drivers
More likely, though, your accident was less serious, and perhaps police did not even respond to the scene. In these common auto accident scenarios, it will be up to you to take photos and also record written notes about the scene’s physical location and surroundings, as well as vehicle damage—your own and that of any others involved. Make a note of weather conditions, time of day/night, and road names/route numbers of the accident scene.
Most importantly, get contact information for all involved parties in addition to other drivers’ insurance details. Is another involved driver uninsured, or did they flee from the accident scene? Report this information to your car insurance carrier as soon as possible. And if you ever feel unsure, call the police—they do not necessarily need to respond to the scene to produce an accident report.
2. Call Your Car Insurance Company
Even if you are not severely injured as the result of a car accident, it can be an emotional and confusing experience. After all, you may have never been involved in an accident before.
As soon as you are safe at the accident scene, call your auto insurer for guidance—there will be a claims number on your insurance card, which should be in your car’s glove box or another storage compartment. These professionals deal with car accidents every single day, and they will talk you through the steps you should follow to collect all the information they need to begin the claims process.
3. Do Not Say “This Was All My Fault”
While it may seem rude or uncaring, you must try to limit your interactions with other drivers—as well as the police—at the scene of a vehicle accident you’ve been involved in. Even if you are reasonably sure your actions while driving caused the accident, you must be careful not to admit fault.
It’s true that Pennsylvania relies on the no-fault system of car insurance coverage, which means your own vehicle insurance policy will pay for your medical expenses and related losses. However, telling other involved parties or law enforcement that you caused an accident may make the claims process more difficult to work through and reduce your ability to recover sufficient compensation.
4. Call an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney ASAP
Many auto accident victims with injury claims often wait to call a personal injury lawyer after the claims process goes awry. We want our neighbors here in Western PA to know that we’re here to help, no matter where you are with your auto injury case, but we can go to work much more effectively if you call us early in the process.
For instance, we were recently able to recover over $1 million for a drunk driving accident victim whose loved ones were proactive in getting us involved while our client was still recovering from their injuries. With sufficient time to strategize, our firm combined our individual lawyers’ expertise to get the best results for this particular client. Never hesitate to call a personal injury attorney when you have any questions or concerns about your auto accident injuries, even if your car accident insurance claim seems to be progressing well.
5. In Pennsylvania, Know That Your Tort Election Could Affect Your Rights
While the point at which you’re filing a car accident insurance claim is too late to change your tort election on your auto insurance policy, the tip here is that you must select “full tort”! PA drivers need to understand that choosing “limited tort” as a way to save money upfront on their car insurance is a significant risk—and not just because it offers less protection against uninsured drivers.
Again, we refer back to our Complete Guide chapter on what to know about auto injury settlements and note that we have talked to countless clients about vehicle accidents over the years. Sadly, there are people we are unable to assist—who suffer immensely from auto accident injuries—because they signed away their rights with a limited tort election. And this means they will likely be unable to pursue certain types of effective injury treatment without paying out of their own pocket.
If you’re not sure what your current tort election is, call your car insurance agent or company to confirm full tort before it’s too late.
Struggling With Your Car Accident Insurance Claim in Western Pennsylvania?
Westmoreland Injury Lawyers can guide you through a difficult auto insurance settlement and claims process to recover all the compensation you deserve.
When you’re dealing with an injury in an auto accident, it’s important to never simply accept a settlement check from your insurance company without consulting a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney. We genuinely care about our clients and want to help you reach the best possible outcome from even the most severe auto accident injuries.
Here in Greensburg and the broader Western PA region, Westmoreland Injury Lawyers is your best legal resource for personal injury matters. Get in touch with us today for a free case evaluation!