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Understanding the Claims Process After an Accident

by kiernanh on March 20, 2013

A car crash can be a frightening event, and even the least damaging of accidents can turn into major inconveniences. In the unfortunate instance that you are involved in an accident, you will need to file a car accident claim. It will benefit you to understand the ins and outs of the claims process in order to recover the full amount of money that you deserve.

After taking the necessary preliminary steps after an accident, like calling the police and filing an official accident report, exchanging information with the other driver(s) and collecting any evidence, you will need to begin the process of filing a claim. This starts with making a phone call to your insurance company. Your insurer will then send out a claims adjuster to investigate your claim. During this investigation, they will determine who is at fault, assess damage that was done to your vehicle, review your coverage and deductible and assess any injuries that you may have sustained during the accident. After the initial assessments, it will be determined whether your claim is a simple claim or a complex claim.

Cases in which there is no question in regards to what occurred and who was at fault in the accident, the adjuster will likely only need to simply get an estimate for the cost of repairing the car before they pay you the cost of your repairs minus the deductible. Simple cases are fairly open and shut, with few complications. Some auto insurance companies have participating body shops that they will recommend, although you are not required to get your repairs done there. If you do choose one of their participating mechanics, you will usually get your estimate and a general overview of repairs on the spot. Some insurers will also offer to pay a doctor’s bill on the spot, and ask you to sign a release form.

In complex or difficult car accident claims where fault is an issue and is yet to be determined, there are serious injuries or unusual circumstances surrounding the accident, the insurance claims process can be more embroiled. In this type of case the claims adjuster will typically contact everyone involved in the accident, including drivers, passengers, witnesses and any officials who were at the scene of the crash. They may conduct interviews, take photos, obtain recorded statements, look into certain traffic laws, and review damage and hospital records, as well as other in-depth research to determine who was at fault. Depending on who was at fault and which state you live in, difficult claims could vary from a simple negotiation with an insurance company to a personal injury litigation.

Take precaution when speaking with insurance adjustors. Their goal is to save money, therefore can and will use anything you say against you. The best thing to do is avoid talking to them altogether, and allow your car crash attorney to handle all conversations with the insurance companies. Lawyers will almost always offer a free consultation. Hiring the right attorney can save you plenty of money and hassle.

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