Do you need to file an auto accident claim? If you haven’t been involved in an auto accident before, you could probably use some help in understanding how they are handled, medically and legally, by all the different parties.
The parties involved include you, other injured persons, all the vehicles involved, the police, your insurance company, the other(s) insurance company, attorneys, and medical providers.
First, from a medical standpoint, the injured persons will be seen by medical professionals, perhaps at the scene, maybe at an emergency room, and then, later, by other medical providers who may treat you. These may include your primary doctor, chiropractors, other medical specialists, and physical therapists.
You can decide if you want an attorney to represent you. Attorneys can handle many of the hassles related to your claim. Once you have an accident, you should call your insurance company and report it, even if it’s not your fault. They will give you a claim number. This might be relevant later, if, for example, you have to file a claim against your own insurance company because the guilty party doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your expenses. So call and report your accident and get a claim number, just in case.
How do you find an attorney if you want one? Perhaps you know someone who has a personal attorney you can recommend. I have worked with many, and can recommend several if you need help with this.
Some people have auto insurance that includes a portion called, “medpay”. This portion of your insurance will pay for your medical treatment. Using it should not affect your insurance premium. It is not equivalent to filing a claim in which you are at fault. If you use your medpay insurance, then your unpaid medical bills will be smaller when you settle your case. That means that your eventual payment for pain and suffering, will be greater, because unpaid medical expenses don’t reduce it. You can confirm this with your insurance agent and attorney.
The damage to your vehicle is usually relatively simple to settle. Property damage is relatively objective, so their isn’t too much disputing this part of your claim. You should, however, get an independent assessment of your vehicle damage, from your car manufacturer’s dealer, with OEM(original equipment manufacturer) parts.
In terms of your medical treatment, most people who get the appropriate treatment will recover fully in about 2-10 weeks. This varies considerably depending upon the forces in the accident, the patient’s age, degeneration, size, strength, etc. Some people will not recover fully, or may not recover for many months. When insurance companies pay you for your “pain and suffering”, it is to compensate you for the fact that, sometimes, people don’t recover fully.
Once your treatment is finished, your attorney will obtain all your medical records and then generate at “demand package”, and send that to the insurance company. This will start the negotiation process until you, your attorney and the insurance company can agree upon the terms of settlement.
Contrary to some perceptions, most insurance accident claims don’t settle for very much money. The notion that someone is going to get pain tens of thousands of dollars or more, is usually erroneous and seldom happens. In fact, most patients who don’t recover fully, would much rather have their health back than the modest sum they are paid for pain and suffering.
If you do have residual pain after your treatment, the doctor should determine your permanent “impairment”. This is an objective, medical determination of the extent of your injuries, and is part of the basis of your settlement. I am qualified to do impairment ratings by the American Academy of Disability Evaluating Physicians.