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I Have Been Injured in an Auto Accident - What Should I Do?

When you've been injured in an accident, you'll usually be looking to the other person's insurance company to collect damages for your injury. If the other person doesn't have insurance, or doesn't have enough insurance, you may be relying on your own insurance company to pay your damages. Either way, dealing with an insurance adjuster can be frustrating and downright scary.

What Steps Should I Take when Injured in an Auto Accident?

There are several steps you should take once you¿ve been injured in an auto accident. These include:

  • Notify
  • Investigate
  • Settle

What Does the Notification Step Entail?

You must notify the people responsible for the accident that you're hurt as a result of the accident and will be filing a claim for your damages.

What Does the Investigation Step Entail?

Thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the accident. If you have hired a lawyer, help him by providing copies of the:

  • Police report
  • Traffic tickets given to the other person
  • Photos of the scene of the accident
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses and what they saw
  • Medical records and bills
  • Photos of your injuries
  • Wage stubs proving how much you made at the time of the accident and how much work time you missed due to your injury
  • Any other information demonstrating a negative impact on your life caused by the injury

When Do the Negotiations Begin?

You will not want to begin serious negotiation with the insurance company until your injuries have stabilized enough to know what the permanent effects will be. This can sometimes take months or even years. Don't negotiate prematurely with the insurance company, as you are the one who will be hurt if your claim is settled before you know the full extent of your injuries.

What Should I Know about the Settlement Process?

When you and the insurance adjuster have come to an agreement on how much you will be paid, you will write a confirming letter to the adjuster, which will include a specific date by which you expect to receive payment from the insurance company. When you receive the settlement check, you'll have to sign a written document that releases the insurance company from any further liability for the accident. Read through this release and consult an attorney with any questions you may have about what the release covers.

What Will Happen if We Don't Settle?

The majority of insurance claims are settled at the adjuster level. If you and the insurance adjuster are unable to settle your case, however, it will be necessary to take it to trial.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me with My Car Insurance Problem?

Insurance companies will occasionally deny a claim that they should have paid for. If this happens to you, you'll probably have to sue the insurance company for bad faith. You might also have to sue the other driver if he or she is underinsured. Having an attorney help you with these problems can make your life easier. A lawyer will know all your state laws and have experience dealing with car insurance companies.

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 09-20-2013 10:51 AM PDT

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