According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there were 545 serious injury crashes in King County in 2012. Serious accidents often lead to auto insurance claims against the driver who caused the collision. During the claims process, there are many things that claimants should keep in mind in order to recover fair settlements successfully. Below is a general overview of the car insurance claim process, as well as tips for dealing with the insurance company.
Starting the Car Insurance Claims Process
Immediately after an accident, call the police to file an accident report, gather witness information, and get the other driver's insurance and contact information. Unless seriously injured, this is the first thing every driver should do after an accident. But the evidence collection process doesn’t end after leaving the scene. Save paperwork like medical bills, repair invoices and any other documents pertaining to the accident or your damages. It’ll be important to present to the other driver’s insurance company.
Washington allows injured motorists to pursue compensation from at-fault drivers via an insurance claim. Still, call your own insurer to inform it of the accident. The other driver should inform his or her insurer of the accident as well, but you may call the other driver’s insurance company in order to let it know you will file a claim. Of course, if you have personal injury protection, collision coverage, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurer, though you may still pursue compensation from the at-fault driver.
Evidence Presentation and Proving Liability
The evidence you collected at the scene as well as any additional evidence you collected regarding liability or the value of your damages will have an impact on your claim. Insurance adjusters will consider your evidence and may collect their own as well. If you suffered serious injuries, speak with an attorney for help gathering evidence and presenting your case.
The insurance company will offer you a settlement eventually or may deny your claim outright. If you do believe the first offer is not fair – which is often the case – or your claim is denied, you may continue negotiations or take further action to recover damages by taking the case to court.
Always keep in mind that a settlement offer is final. Once you sign the settlement, you cannot reopen the claim and ask for new damages. Wait until all expenses are cleared before signing a settlement.
Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
As part of an insurance company’s investigation, it may ask for a recorded statement or access to the driver's medical records. Offer none of these things until you speak with an attorney.
Adjusters may use personal statements against the claimant. While you may have to submit medical records pertaining to the case, speak with your attorney before releasing these and especially before releasing any others. Insurers may try to blame current injuries on previous conditions.
Read more about dealing with insurance adjusters here.
Find Help at Max Meyers Law
Max Meyers Law advocates for Bellevue accident victims throughout the car insurance claim process and can help pursue fair compensation. Contact our office at 425-399-7000 to set up your free initial consultation.