Making a Car Accident Insurance Claim
Nobody expects to be in a serious car accident, but when a negligent motorist causes a serious crash, it is important to know more about making a car accident insurance claim. The process of making a car accident insurance claim begins from the immediate aftermath of the accident and can extend for weeks, months, and sometimes even longer after the initial crash occurs. The following are the steps you should take when making an insurance claim after a car accident.Gather Information at the Scene of the Crash
When it is time to file an insurance claim, you will want to be able to provide as much evidence as possible to show that the other driver’s careless or reckless behavior caused the crash. Depending upon whether you file a claim through your own insurance company or through the other driver’s insurer—an issue we will address shortly—you will want evidence to show that you are not liable for property damage and personal injuries. Accordingly, you should do your best to gather the following at the scene of the accident:
- Photographs of the collision and the site of the accident from multiple angles and perspectives;
- Contact information for anyone else involved in the accident and any witnesses to the crash;
- Your own recollections of how the accident occurred and what led to it; and
- Police report from the accident if it is available.
The next step in making a car accident insurance claim is reporting the crash. Regardless of whether you file a claim with your own insurer or the other driver’s insurance company, you will need to report the accident to your own auto insurance company in a timely manner. Ideally, you should report the accident as soon as possible. When you call your insurance company, it is important to remember that the insurance company is not an advocate for you. Instead, the insurer will want to pay out as little as possible. As such, you should avoid offering any information about fault or your opinion about how the crash occurred. Stick to the objective facts until you have spoken with a car accident lawyer.Deciding Whether to File a First-Party or a Third-Party Insurance Claim
As the California Department of Insurance explains, California is a fault state for auto insurance purposes. Accordingly, a motorist who is injured in a car accident can choose whether to file a claim with his or her own insurance company (a “first-party” claim) or with the at-fault driver’s insurance company (a “third-party” claim).
There are benefits and limitations to each approach, and you should discuss them with your lawyer. For example, with a first-party claim, you will need to pay your deductible up front, but your claim may be processed more quickly. With a third-party claim, you will not need to pay anything if the other driver is determined to be at fault, but the claim can take longer or you may not receive full compensation for your losses due to insurance limits.Contact a Car Accident Lawyer to Help With Your Claim
Once your claim is underway, your attorney can seek a reasonable settlement in your case. If you do not receive a reasonable offer, you may be eligible to file a car accident lawsuit against the responsible driver. An experienced car accident attorney at our firm can speak with you today about your claim. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more.