How Do I File an Auto Insurance Claim?
The first step in filing an auto insurance claim is to call your own insurance company to report the accident. For minor accidents where nobody is injured, your insurance will process the claim and you will receive a check to reimburse you for the damage to your car. Even minor accidents, however, can lead to major problems. After more than 25 years of representing auto accident clients, each Los Angeles car accident lawyer at Ellis Law Corporation knows that filing an auto insurance claim and recovering full compensation for damages and injuries requires a greater effort.
First, gather all documentation and information about the accident.
This includes photographs of the accident scene, notations about traffic and weather at the time of the accident, names and contact information for all witnesses, reports filed with local police, and medical reports from doctors who examined any injured parties. Even if no injuries are immediately apparent, accident victims should schedule a medical examination as soon as is possible after an accident to establish a baseline for any latent injuries that might not be apparent until days or weeks after the accident.
Give a statement to your own insurance company.
After you notify your insurance company about the accident, a claim adjuster will likely contact and interview you about how the accident occurred. You can and should give a statement to your own insurance company, but not to the insurance company of the party that caused the accident. As soon as the insurance claim process begins, you and the other party are in an adversarial relationship. Assume that anything you say to the other party and his or her insurance company is being recorded, and that your description of the accident can be used against you at a later time. This is particularly true if you admit to any responsibility for the accident.
Contact an experienced auto accident and personal injury attorney.
An experienced attorney will analyze the circumstances of your accident, including your property losses and personal injuries, and determine the extent of the potential damages award that may be available to compensate you for your losses. That award might include, for example, compensation for your future medical treatments and any pain and suffering or permanent disability that resulted from the accident. The attorneys at the Ellis Law Corporation provide complimentary consultations to make these determinations. If we accept your case, you will pay no fees or expenses unless we recover damages for you, and then our fees are paid out of those damages.
Do not delay filing any claims.
The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for you to recover the full amount of damages that you deserve for your losses and injuries. Contacting an experienced attorney soon after an accident is particularly important if you need to file a lawsuit to recover those damages. In California, you need to file that lawsuit within two years after the date of the accident to recover damages for personal injuries. If you retain an attorney soon after an auto accident, your attorney will then do everything necessary to prepare and file your claims before that deadline expires.
Follow the recommendations you receive from your physicians.
Your physicians and therapists will help you to recover from your injuries. The party that caused your accident might argue that your failure to follow a doctor’s recommendations indicates that your injuries are not serious, or that you are at least partly to blame for any complications. You can submit medical claims to your own health insurance, and request that payment of any deductibles and co-pays be deferred until you reach a final settlement or receive a trial award to compensate you for your injuries. Consult with your attorney regarding any liens that your own health insurer might seek to place on a prospective damages award.
Consider all aspects of your damages.
An automobile that has been in an accident will likely have a diminished value when compared to a similar vehicle that has never been in a crash. As for your personal injuries, factor in wages that you lose as a result of being unable to work, any reduced capacity to perform the same work after the accident, and promotions and job advancements that you lost due to time away from work . If your injuries left you with chronic pain, you may also have a valid claim for non-economic damages due to pain and suffering, and loss of consortium and quality time with your family. Again, consult with your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to verify that the full scope of your damages is included in your auto insurance claim.
Call the Ellis Law Corporation
For Help in Filing an Auto Insurance Claim
The car accident lawyers at the Ellis Law Corporation in Los Angeles have helped hundreds of southern California drivers to file auto insurance claims and to recover the largest possible damages awards to compensate them for their property losses and injuries. See our website or call us directly for assistance in filing your auto accident claim.