There are 62 million injuries and hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths each year in America.
When you’ve been in a severe accident, your focus should always be on your recovery. Depending on the nature of your injuries, you often have to dedicate time and money to medical care and therapy.
You may have to take time off of work as a result, and we haven’t even mentioned the property damage. The point is, accidents are expensive and you should be compensated for your injury through insurance.
In this post, we’ll show you how to file an insurance claim and explain why you should hire a personal injury attorney to help. Dealing with your insurance company isn’t always straightforward, so keep reading and we’ll give you an in-depth look at this overwhelming but necessary process.
What Are the Basic Steps to Filing an Insurance Claim?
There are various types of insurance, each one with a slightly different filing process. Whether you’re going through your homeowner’s insurance or car insurance to file a claim, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what you need to do.
The first step is to notify your insurance company. They’ll tell you what paperwork you need to provide, but most companies now have apps that allow you to report your claim, upload supplementary documentation, and check on its status. Supplementary documentation may include a police report and a “proof of claim” form.
Once you’ve submitted all of the above, an adjuster will assess your claim and offer you a settlement. You can either choose to accept the settlement or, if you’re unhappy, fight it to receive a larger amount.
What Information Is Needed at the Time of Filing a Personal Injury Claim?
What information you need depends on the nature of your injuries and the type of insurance you’re using. If it’s a car accident, you’ll need to describe where, how, and when the accident happened. You’ll also need to give contact info for those involved and an estimate for the damages.
For a homeowners insurance claim, you’ll need to fill out a proof of loss statement. You may have to list any items that were damaged or stolen and how much it will cost to replace them.
Having as much medical information as possible is important, too. They’ll need to know the nature of your injuries, as well as the outlook when it comes to treatment and whether you’ll be able to work.
What Mistakes Do People Make When Filing Their Own Insurance Claim Instead of Going Through a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you try to go it alone with the other party’s insurance company, you may end up settling for far less than you should. One of the first calls you should make is to an experienced personal injury attorney, who can help walk you through each step of the process, avoiding common pitfalls.
One of the costliest mistakes people tend to make is not seeing a doctor right away. You’ll need proof that you’ve been injured and if you wait too long to seek treatment, it’ll be harder to prove your injuries are the result of the accident, which hurts your claim.
Talking to the insurance company without a lawyer is another big mistake. It may feel harmless, but you have to remember that the insurance company is looking after its bottom line more than your best interest. Making any statements on the record may put an end to any hope of a larger settlement.
Posting on social media can be a big problem as well. Anything you say online while your claim is being reviewed can come back to haunt you. A lawyer can help you understand the way your actions affect your case’s outcome.
How Do I Know If I Need to File an Insurance Claim and What Common Situations Call for a Personal Injury Insurance Claim?
If you’re new to this, you may not know exactly when insurance should come into play. It’s actually pretty simple – if damaged property or injuries are involved, you should file an insurance claim.
There are some instances when it might not be necessary to do so. If the claim is less than your deductible, it probably means the property damage isn’t significant enough to warrant an insurance claim.
What Are the Most Common Reasons Why People Have a Personal Injury Attorney File Their Insurance Claim?
There are countless reasons why it’s better to have your personal injury attorney file your insurance claim. Probably the most obvious is that they know what they’re doing. If you’ve never had to deal with something like this before, it can all feel very overwhelming and daunting.
Something as simple as filling out the paperwork can seem difficult without a lawyer. Because they’re experienced and knowledgeable of the minutiae of personal injury claims, they can help you fill out the paperwork and tell you what supporting documentation to provide.
Having your lawyer around prevents any intimidation tactics on the part of the insurance company. This is especially important when you’re dealing with commercial accidents.
If you’re in an accident with a commercial vehicle or injured at a business, contending with corporate insurers and legal teams can be intimidating. With a lawyer by your side, you won’t fall victim to lowball offers or other tactics they may use to prevent a larger payout.
How Long From the Date of the Accident Do I Have to File an Insurance Claim?
The length of time you have to file your claim differs depending on where you live. Here in Virginia, the statute of limitations for bringing forward an injury claim is 2 years. For property damage, it’s 5 years.
Most insurers want you to report your accident to them within 30 days of it happening. However, from the date of the accident, you legally have 2 full years to file your claim. It’s always a good idea to get the ball rolling sooner than later.
What Happens After I File My Insurance Claim?
After you or your lawyer submit your insurance claim, a claims adjuster will be assigned to you by your insurer. They’ll work with you to go over the paperwork and supporting evidence in your claim, then determine a settlement amount.
Some insurance companies have stringent requirements on the mechanics you’re allowed to use and treating doctors you’re allowed to see. It’s important to consult your insurance policy to determine whether this is the case.
The adjuster will also let you know if any further documentation is required to support your claim. It’s important to be cooperative with your adjuster, but make sure your lawyer is involved in every step of the process so you aren’t taken advantage of.
What Happens If I Disagree With the Outcome of My Personal Injury Claim and How Does a Personal Injury Attorney Help With This?
Insurance claims that involve a personal injury are some of the trickiest to settle. All you can do is get a quote for your property damage repairs and listen to what your doctor tells you regarding your medical expenses. With that information in hand, the adjuster will try to offer you an appropriate settlement.
When they deliver your settlement amount, you and your lawyer will need to determine if it’s good enough. If it isn’t, you may need to take the case before a judge.
This is the point where you should really heed the advice of your legal team. If your lawyer is telling you that the settlement is a good one, you should accept it. If they advise you to look for more, they’re probably correct.
Fighting for a greater settlement is an uphill battle without a lawyer. Your attorney will be able to look at the specifics of the law and past cases to determine what your settlement should be.
They’ll then prepare all of the necessary evidence and present your case in court. For this reason, it’s important to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer who has plenty of courtroom experience.
What Happens If I’m At Fault During a Personal Injury Claim?
If you’re at fault during a personal injury claim, it’s just as important to hire an attorney. Virginia is an at-fault state, so your insurance company will need to pay for the damages, which will result in higher insurance rates.
A lawyer can help you settle the case and defend you in the event of a lawsuit. You’ll always have a better chance of fighting any unjust claims with a good lawyer backing you up.
Knowing How to File an Insurance Claim Is Good, But…
Knowing how to file an insurance claim is really important when you’ve been injured in an accident. At the end of the day, however, you need a great lawyer if you’re going to maximize your claim.
The Law Office of Collier & Collier has been helping protect the rights of injured Virginians since 1973. No matter how you were injured, you should be properly compensated, so contact us today with your legal questions and we’ll help you successfully navigate this process.