If you were recently in a car accident and it’s your first, you may be wondering how to navigate the insurance claim process. It’s essential to report every accident – big or small – to your insurance company. That’s part of the deal.
Insurance claims can be complicated and there are multiple points during the process where decisions need to be made that can adversely affect the outcome of your claim, if you don’t have a sound understanding of the end from the beginning.
What to Do to Start a Car Accident Claim
Call your insurance company as soon as you can after your accident. They’ll need to know about the accident, regardless of who was at fault. You should be checked out for any injuries, so call 911 and get paramedics on the scene. The police will come and eventually file a police report that your insurer will also need.
Unless you’re rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, you’ll want to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Get the information for any witnesses that may have observed what happened.
When you’re on the phone with your insurance company’s claims department, tell them you’ve been in an accident. They will then ask you some basic questions, such as where and when the accident occurred, the names and contact information of other involved parties, the police report number, and details about the crash.
Once all questions have been answered, they will open a claim and assign a number to it for your easy reference. You may even be directed to an adjuster assigned to your claim.
The Importance of Fault in Missouri Insurance Claims
Naturally, you may already have mentioned to the insurance company that you believe the other driver was at fault. Even if that is completely true, they must still conduct an investigation into what happened.
Missouri is a state that uses pure comparative negligence in car accident claims. This means a percentage of fault will be assigned to each person in the accident. For example, if you were stopped at a red light and a car rear-ended you, they would likely be deemed 100% at fault in the crash.
However, if you were going 10 MPH above the speed limit while going through an intersection and were T-boned by another vehicle, you may be assigned a portion of the blame, for example, 10%.
This percentage will be extremely important to you when making your insurance claim. If any blame is assigned to you in the accident, it will come from the awarded settlement. The reason so many people hire an attorney to help navigate the claims process is that insurance companies may not be entirely fair in determining and assigning percentages of fault.
Certainly, some cases, such as a rear-end collision at a red light, are very cut and dry. But in other cases, there may be more complexities. If you want to recover the full amount you may be entitled to for your personal injuries, property damage, and other losses, you may have greater success working with an attorney to handle your claim.
For example, with pure comparative negligence, your attorney may have determined that your total damages are $100,000. If it is decided that you share 10% of the blame for the accident, you’d only receive 90% of that amount, or $90,000.
How a Can Lawyer Help You Navigate the Insurance Claim Process
One of the biggest advantages of hiring an attorney to help you is their ability to accurately put a compensation number on your damages. Most accident victims don’t fully realize the total amount of their losses and simply settle for whatever they’re given. Some even let the insurance companies assign them some percentage of the blame because they don’t know any better.
An attorney will gather all the facts about your accident and submit evidence to prove your damages and injuries. They will accurately tabulate and request an appropriate settlement from the insurance company and negotiate on your behalf.
When you are blamed partially or even fully for the accident, an attorney can step in and show the truth by obtaining surveillance footage, witness statements, and expert testimony.
In the state of Missouri, before you start the insurance claim process, consult a St. Louis, Missouri personal injury lawyer to see if the settlement you’re being offered is fair.