FOR LAWYERS

Navigating the process of filing an insurance claim after a motor vehicle accident isn’t always easy. There are many pitfalls that you can easily fall into that will prevent you from receiving the fairest possible payout. To help you have the smoothest insurance claim experience with the best compensation, here are some dos and don’ts that it is recommended you follow.

Insurance Claim Dos

1. Do document the entire process during and after your car accident

Part of the insurance claims process will require you to provide evidence about your claim. To help support your claim, it’s important to document everything related to your car accident. At the site of the accident, it’s recommended to collect:

  • Photos and videos of the scene and the damage done to the vehicle
  • Details about the place, time, and description of the accident
  • Badge numbers of any police officers called to the scene
  • Photos of any injuries
  • Names and contact information of all parties involved in the accident
  • The license plate, insurance policy number, and driver’s license number of the other driver
  • Statements from witnesses if there are any

After your accident, continue collecting documents and evidence such as:

  • Details about doctor’s appointments
  • Medical bills
  • Car repair bills
  • Notes documenting all conversations you have with your insurance company

2. Do involve law enforcement

Based on the jurisdiction, the circumstances and facts surrounding the accident, and the nature of your claim,  insurance companies may require that you submit a police report to support  your claim,  and therefore it’s a good idea to call the police to the scene of your car accident so you can obtain a copy of the police report for such purposes. 

3. Do know your insurance policy well

It’s important to know what is covered and excluded in your insurance policy, as well as what your payout limit is. You’ll also want to understand if you might have supplemental coverage from another auto insurance policy, a homeowner’s policy, or other umbrella coverage. 

4. Consider the advantages of retaining an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney

Insurance companies have a financial interest in paying you the minimum possible payout or rejecting your claim entirely. Advocating for yourself as an individual can be difficult, especially if you’re not familiar with the workings of the auto insurance industry. 

As such, you can greatly benefit from hiring  an experienced car accident attorney to walk you through the insurance claims process. They will be able to make sure that you submit as strong of a claim as possible and cover all of your bases so that you ultimately receive fair compensation for your losses. Ideally, retain legal counsel before you begin the claims process. 

5. Do be honest throughout the claims process

If you are at fault for your car accident in part or entirely, it can be tempting to lie in order to avoid having to be held responsible for your actions. However, it’s important to always tell your insurance company the truth. This will save everybody time and effort investigating and will also make sure that you don’t invalidate your own claim.

6. Do seek medical treatment

If you are injured in your car accident and want to be compensated by your insurance company for anything related to your injuries, such as medical expenses and lost wages, it’s important to seek medical treatment-even if your pain is minor or you’re used to toughing it out-not only for your own health, but also because it will help support your claim and prove the extent of you injuries. 

Insurance Claim Don’ts

1. Don’t admit fault for the accident

Be careful about the conversations you have at the scene of the car accident. If the other party tries to coerce you into admitting fault for the car accident and you do, this might be used against you later on even if you are not truly to blame for what took place. 

2. Don’t negotiate directly with the other driver

If the other driver who was part of your car accident tries to negotiate directly with you at the scene or afterward, don’t be tempted. This can invalidate your claim. Instead, let your lawyers handle the matter through your car insurance providers. If the other driver does not have car insurance, you may be covered through an uninsured motorist policy by your own insurance company. 

3. Don’t miss your insurance company’s deadlines 

Insurance policies have deadlines in place for how long you have to file a claim after a car accident. After these cutoff points, your insurance company can decline your claim. Be sure to file your claim in a timely manner to avoid this outcome. 

4. Don’t sign anything without your lawyer’s approval

Once you have a lawyer helping you navigate the insurance claims process, be careful not to do anything without their approval. This includes:

  • Signing waivers
  • Agreeing to final offers
  • Accepting estimates of loss/damage
  • Accepting a check
  • Giving written or recorded statements

Always consult with your lawyer before moving forward with any of these steps. 

5. Don’t accept your insurance company’s first offer

The insurance claims process most often involves negotiations between both sides before you will be happy with the payout you are offered. In almost every instance, the insurance company’s first offer will be much lower than what you requested. Don’t be tempted to accept a lowball offer. Your motor vehicle accident attorney will be able to walk you through a process of negotiation so that you can get the compensation you deserve.

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