Tips for Settling a Claim after an Auto Accident

July 8, 2015

After being in an auto accident, an injured person often wonders how to proceed with injury claims against the at-fault party. When it is added to the shock of being in an accident and dealing with recovering, the process may seem overwhelming. However, some simple tips can make it much easier. Since it is necessary to work with the at-fault party's insurer, gathering sufficient information is crucial. While at the accident scene, be sure to obtain the following information:

  • The other driver's name and contact information.
  • The license plate number and vehicle information for the other driver's vehicle.
  • The other driver's insurance company and their contact information.
  • The names and contact numbers for any involved law enforcement officers.
  • The names and contact numbers for any witnesses on the scene.

Smart phones are useful tools at the scene of an accident. If possible, take a panoramic video of the accident scene, and take several clear pictures of both vehicles. Be sure the photos show the location of the vehicles, the areas where they are damaged and the license plates of each vehicle. The other party's insurer will require a large amount of information to settle a claim. Keep in mind that the other party's insurance company will not try to help recover a maximum payout for a claim.

The payouts are typically the minimum allowed, so be sure to avoid settling on an amount if it is insufficient to cover medical expenses and property damages. For medical expenses, consider any injuries that may be disabling or lifelong. If this is the case, it may be time to hire an attorney. When there is insufficient information to support a claim, an insurer may deny it.

The process of dealing with the other party's insurance company may be exasperating, so it is important to be patient. They may make multiple offers, but they will eventually make one that is their final offer. If the injured party is unhappy with the offer at that point, the only option is to file a lawsuit. Although this may yield more money in the end, that is not a guarantee. Also, lawsuits usually take much longer. If the injuries are not severe or disabling, it may be wise to take the final settlement offer.

Types of Damages a Person Can Collect
For property damage claims, a person can collect for vehicle damage and property damage. For example, if the person was carrying an expensive painting in the vehicle that was damaged at the time of the accident, the claim could reflect vehicle damage and the damaged painting. However, a professional assessment of the painting's value would be required. Car rentals and related out-of-pocket expenses are typically covered by property damage provisions.

When the other party's insurance company assesses the damages and claim, they will offer a settlement if they feel it is in their best interest. While they do not want to pay a lot to an injured party, they do want to avoid litigation. To learn more about this topic, discuss concerns with an agent.

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