After an accident, the first thing you should do is to ensure your own safety. And then the safety of the other people involved in the accident. Next, you will want to move to a safe location and call emergency services. Especially if there are injuries or significant damage to the vehicles. While you are waiting, exchange contact, driver’s license, license plate numbers, and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved. If you do not require emergency care, you will want to schedule a medical evaluation with your primary care physician. Now, the insurance claims process begins.
How Does the Insurance Claims Process Work After a Car Accident?
Here are the steps involved in the insurance claims process:
Report the accident to your insurance company
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. Provide them with accurate and detailed information about the incident. They will guide you through the claims process and provide instructions on the next steps. In Washington State, you are required to report your accident within four days.
The claim is filed
The carrier takes the case to the insurance agency and the accident claim is filed in the victim’s name after the victim’s information has been verified.
Investigation and documentation
The insurance company will assign an adjuster to investigate the accident and assess the damages. This may involve gathering evidence, speaking with witnesses, reviewing police reports, and evaluating the extent of the damage to your vehicle.
It is the insurer’s job to determine who is at fault for the accident. In some cases, the fault may be partially assigned to both parties. In Washington State, the claimant may only receive a settlement for the share of fault assigned to the other party. For example, if the claimant is deemed 40 percent responsible for the accident, they may only receive 60 percent of the settlement amount.
If your vehicle is damaged, the insurance company may arrange for an inspection or request estimates from approved repair shops. They will determine the cost of repairs and may also consider the vehicle’s pre-accident value. This is to assess if it is repairable or a total loss.
Repair or total loss
Depending on the extent of the damage and your policy coverage, the insurance company may either authorize repairs at an approved shop or offer you a settlement amount for the value of your vehicle. If repairs are approved, you may need to pay the deductible as per your policy terms.
If you or any passengers were injured, you may need to file a separate claim for medical expenses. Provide the insurance company with medical records, bills, and any other relevant documentation. This is to support your claim. If you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, then you should be able to provide a claim number to your medical providers. That is so they can bill your insurance for their services.
During the subrogation phase, your insurer will try to recover the costs of your medical care. This includes property damage repairs from the person responsible for your injury or property damage. Typically through their insurance policy.
Once the investigation is complete, repairs have been made, and any medical claims have been processed, the insurance company will finalize the claim and offer a settlement.
Settlement negotiation process
Insurance adjusters work for the interests of the insurance company, which means spending as little as possible on car accident settlements. They will go out of their way to offer a lowball settlement, hoping that the injured party will accept it. This is why it is very important to understand the value of your claim and to get ready to negotiate a fair settlement. Car accident lawyers have the resources and knowledge to calculate the true value of your claim and the skills to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. If you aren’t sure what your settlement is worth, we recommend a free consultation with a local car accident attorney.
Payment, arbitration, or lawsuit
Once a settlement has been negotiated, the claimant can expect to receive a check with the settlement amount sometime after 14 days after the agreement is final. If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer may move ahead with the arbitration process or a lawsuit.
It’s important to note that the claims process can vary depending on the insurance company, policy terms, and the specific circumstances of the accident. It’s recommended to review your insurance policy and contact your insurance company directly for precise information about their claims process.
Contact a car accident lawyer today!
A car accident lawyer can help you recover a full and fair settlement for the injuries you sustained in a car accident with no up-front costs to you. We know the sneaky strategies used by insurance companies to get injured people to agree to settlements far below what they are worth. Our clients typically end up with a settlement or jury award that is five to ten times larger than they could have negotiated on their own. We have been representing people injured in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. Contact the experienced and hard-working personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Mount Vernon, WA today for a FREE consultation!