Have you recently suffered an injury from a car accident and been seeking a settlement? If so, it is important to know that the degree of your responsibility will affect the amount of money you’ll receive. In other words, if you are responsible for 20% of the accident, the claims adjuster will reduce the damages by 20%.
Previously, if you were totally responsible for the accident, you would shoulder the entire cost. Today, most states have some form of “comparative negligence” that proportions out the blame so that even if it’s your fault, you can recuperate some damages.
The car accident settlement process works on the proposition that if you suffered injury and inconvenience because someone else did not do what he or she was supposed to do (negligence), then you have the right to be returned to the position you were in before the accident.
Types of Car Insurance Coverage for Personal Injury
Before you seek compensation, you should understand the types of car insurance that cover personal injury. The one you use will depend on your policy and the nature of your accident.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or “No-Fault Insurance”.
PIP insurance pays for your medical costs up to the policy’s limits, even if you were at fault.
Medical payments coverage
This policy is similar to PIP insurance. But unlike PIP, it does not cover lost income, funeral expenses, and loss of services. It is limited to medical bills only.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays bodily injury expenses if you’ve been:
- The victim of a hit and run accident; or
- Hit by a driver who possesses no insurance
Negligence: When Someone Did Not Do What He or She Was Supposed to Do
The term “auto accident” is a misnomer. An accident usually refers to an incident that occurs by luck or chance, without any reason or intention. The basis of a personal injury case and car accident settlement is establishing the fact that another driver has acted negligently, resulting in an accident.
Seeking Medical Care
Obtaining timely medical treatment for any injury is important. Inform the treating physician that you have been involved in a vehicular accident. Follow through on all prescribed treatment.
If your injuries persist, don’t hesitate to obtain a second opinion. Keep a journal that details the pain or symptoms you experience and the treatment and medication you take.
Your success in claiming monetary damages due to bodily injury heavily depends on your medical record. Make sure it is thorough and that it documents your injuries, their relation to the accident, and their impact in your life.
Dealing with Insurers
As soon as possible, contact your automobile insurance company to report that an accident has occurred. Your insurance company will assign a claim number and a claims adjuster to handle all aspects of your claim.
The insurer will ask you to provide information on the accident and may ask to take a recorded statement of your version of events.
If the claim involves property damage to the motor vehicle, the insurance company may evaluate the extent of damage and determine if the car is repairable. Depending on your insurance policy, the insurance company may even provide you a rental car.
You may also want to report the accident to the other driver’s insurance company. Exercise caution when speaking with the other driver’s insurer. Remember: that company is representing the interests of the other party and may put your interest first.
Do not provide a recorded statement to the other insurance company. You may also be asked to sign authorizations to access your employment and medical information. It is your right to refuse so. Inform the other insurance company that you will provide all relevant medical information when you’ve completed treatment. In case your car is disabled and you have not obtained a rental car from your own insurance company, request a rental car to be provided for you.
Reporting Car Accident
When car accidents are relatively minor, exchanging contact and insurance details with the other driver is sufficient. Report the accident to your local station to permanently record the car accident. If the other driver is aggressive and refuses to exchange details with you, or if are receiving medical attention, take note of the other driver’s plate number and report the same to your local station.
What Happens After You File Personal Injury Claims
A claims adjuster is a person who handles insurance claims for compensation. He or she may ask you for a recorded statement regarding the facts of the accident, the damage to the vehicles, and details about your injury. It is the adjuster’s job to gather as much information about the accident to determine how much the personal injury claim is worth. The adjuster’s goal is to mitigate any damages for the insurance company, thereby reducing the overall payout for settlement of the claim. You need, to be honest with them, but be careful about your choice of words.
What if Both Parties are Partially at Fault?
There are times when more than one person can be blamed for a car accident. The crucial element is determining the degree of fault or negligence of each party. If you were injured in a car accident and it was determined that you are 20% at fault and the other driver was 80% at fault, your car accident settlement may be reduced by 20%.
Accident Injury Compensation and Medical Authorization Forms
When you seek insurance compensation for your medical bills, the company will request you sign a medical authorization form that allows them to obtain your medical records. Once all the information is gathered, the insurance company will negotiate a settlement with you or your attorney. Whether your claim is with your insurance company or with the other driver’s, you will likely be asked to sign an authorization letter.
It’s important to claim compensation for the following:
- Compensation for material damage to the vehicle (if applicable)
- Compensation for out of pocket expenditure in connection with the car accident claim.
- Compensation for physical injuries sustained as a result of the car accident
- Compensation for psychological injuries sustained as a result of a car accident