Auto Accident Claim Frequently Asked Questions
By their nature, car accidents are unexpected and unpredictable. In the chaos and aftermath of an accident, you are suddenly faced with making decisions about insurance and health care that you never planned for or thought about before. Taking the wrong steps can have a huge impact on your future; signing a settlement with the insurance company before you have had time to determine the full extent of your injuries takes away your ability to get compensation. It’s always best to talk to an attorney before you sign anything. Listed below are answers to some of the most common questions we get concerning car accidents.
What should I do if I was in an auto accident?
- Stay as calm as possible.
- Stop immediately, but do not get in the way of traffic. Warn other cars by using hazard lights, or warning triangles/flares if available.
- Check for injuries. Your health is more important than car damages. If in doubt, call for an ambulance.
- Call the police, even if the accident is minor. The police report may contain valuable information regarding your potential case.
- Secure license numbers make and models of all cars involved.
- Get information about the other drivers (and witnesses, if any). Including name, address, registration, and insurance. Try to establish a relationship if the owner of the vehicle, insurance policyholder and driver are different persons.
- Attempt to make a rough drawing of the scene and position of vehicles.
- If a camera is available, and conditions are safe, photographs may be extremely helpful.
- Inform your insurance company of the accident immediately.
- Limit conversation to the investigating police department. Do not sign or say anything to insurance agents.
- Although gathering facts if very important, remember that ultimately investigation should be left to police officers and insurance companies.
The insurance company offered me a check right away. Would there be a problem if I accept?
Yes. The insurance company’s initial offer is usually an extremely low amount. This may not even be enough to cover your property damages or medical bills. Also, in regard to medical treatment, you may not even be done treating yet. If you accept an offer early, you (or your insurance company) will most likely be responsible for medical charges that occur after the acceptance.
How much is my car accident claim worth?
The value of a car accident claim varies widely based on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Factors involved in determining the value of an accident claim include, but are not limited to:
- The extent of the injuries suffered
- Damage done to the vehicle
- Wages lost due to the accident (if any)
- Ability to enjoy life after the accident
- Ability to work after the accident
Our legal team investigates all aspects of an accident and consults with experts to calculate the value of an accident claim.
How long will it take to resolve my car accident claim?
Like the value of a claim, the length of time it takes to settle a claim varies depending on the circumstances of the accident. A typical claim takes anywhere from a few months to a few years to resolve. The main issues are the extent of your injuries, your economic losses and the willingness of the insurance company decides to play hardball fighting to avoid paying fair compensation.
If I was in an accident while driving for work, do I file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim?
Typically, if you are injured while performing a work duty (as either a driver or as a passenger), you would file a workers’ compensation claim and not a personal injury claim. Work duties include things such as making deliveries, transporting fellow employees or any other work-related travel that you are paid for.
The driver at fault does not have insurance; do I have any options to recover damages?
Yes, there are options available to you. You can sue the at-fault party directly and make a claim for damages against your insurance policy which covers uninsured motorist cases. Contact Zychowicz Skeldon, Ltd.; we will help you decided on the best way to pursue your claim.
What should I do if I was just a passenger of the at-fault driver but still suffered injuries?
Give us a call. It may be more difficult when your family member or friend was at fault for an accident while you were just a person along for the ride, but you still have rights. We can discuss the options and decide on the best approach to handling this type of situation.