July 08, 2014
Filing a Personal Injury Claim after an Auto Accident
If you’ve ever been in an automobile accident, you know that the moments afterwards can be complicated and lead to confusion for everyone involved. From exchanging insurance information, to filling out a police report, to filing a claim for damage to your car, you can find yourself in an almost never-ending stack of paperwork. This doesn’t even include accidents that result in bodily injuries, which add to the stress of the situation and must be dealt with expertly in order to ensure that you are repaid for the costs you incur.
Working with a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles will allow you to have a professional in your corner to guide you through the process of gathering information and submitting your claim.
Step 1: Collect Information at the Scene
There were over 86,000 motor vehicle injury accidents in Los Angeles County alone in 2005, according to the Los Angeles Almanac. These statistics have remained relatively stable over recent years, indicating that drivers throughout LA continue to get hurt in automobile crashes. If you are in an accident and sustain an injury, the most important thing to do is stay at the scene and ensure that your injury is properly addressed.
However, before leaving, make sure that you collect all of the following:
- Names and contact information for everyone involved in the accident, including passengers and potential witnesses
- Details of the accident, including the time, date, location, and traffic conditions
- Photos of your car and the others involved
- A copy of the police report and/or the name of the responding officer in case you need to get the report at a later date
Step 2: Seek Medical Attention
You will most likely visit the doctor or emergency room immediately upon leaving the scene of the accident. Document each part of this process, including your symptoms, the treatment you received, and any follow-up steps you take. You will want to make appointments to see recommended specialists and physicians so that you have paperwork that confirms you are receiving treatment for your injuries.
The insurance company’s claim adjuster will want to see all of the medical reports when determining what steps they will take in terms of offering a settlement. While these reports will be available from the hospital, it is also smart to have records of your own. Visiting the hospital is not enough on its own to ensure a favorable settlement for your injuries. Do your due diligence to improve your health first and foremost and let your personal injury attorney in Los Angeles help with the claim process.
Step 3: Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Dealing with auto insurance companies can be a hassle, especially if you have been injured in an accident. In addition to filing a claim and meeting with adjusters, you will have to go up against large companies that have powerful attorneys working to keep as much money as possible. It is a good idea to work with someone who is an expert in personal injury cases so they can help you with the interviews and filing process. Your attorney will also be able to assist with winning you a settlement for your claim so that you get the compensation you deserve and can cover your medical and car repair costs.
To hire an attorney, you’ll need to start with a consultation to go over the facts of your case. After you’ve received medical attention and are back at home, it is smart to get the ball rolling with an attorney so you can get everything you need together in order to file your claim without delay.
Step 4: Contact the Insurance Company
When you are ready to proceed, contact the insurance company of the at-fault party to open a bodily injury claim. Once you do so you will be expected to provide all of the information you have gathered to that point and answer questions surrounding the accident and the medical treatment for your injuries. Without an attorney on your side, you may feel pressured during this process or unsure about what your responsibilities are moving forward. Continue to see your doctor and other specialists as directed so that you can get the treatment you need while you wait for your claim to be resolved.
Step 5: Wait for Your Settlement
After your information has been given to the insurance company and you have completed all the necessary interviews, you will need to wait for your settlement to be decided. It is important to remember that you are under no obligation to accept the settlement offered, if there is one. If you’ve hired a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles you will have help in determining if the settlement offer is fair. If it is not, your lawyer will advise you on how to proceed with the settlement dispute.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of people across the country injured in auto accidents is on the rise. Statistics in 2012 showed the first significant increase, around 145,000 cases, in 17 years. This means that while drivers do all they can to avoid accidents, crashes and injuries do still happen and they have an enormous financial impact on those involved. Protect yourself and your passengers when an accident occurs by working with a personal injury attorney to get the settlement you deserve.