What should I do after a car accident?
Most importantly, before the claims process even begins, remain calm. Then, immediately pull over and do the following:
- Call the police
- Gather information with as many details as possible
- File an accident report with police and the Department of Transportation
- Call your insurance company as soon as you can
- Stay in touch throughout the claims process
What evidence should I collect?
Gather as much information as you can. For instance, be sure to include:
- Names and contact information
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers
- Insurance companies and policy numbers
- Contact information for witnesses
- Accident location and photographs of the scene
- Damages to both cars
- Any bodily injuries reported
Should I call the police?
Call the police as soon as possible after a car accident. For instance, police officers can provide emergency medical services. Also, they can protect the scene and direct traffic until the road is clear. Officers will make a police report with unbiased information that is important for insurance companies and potential lawsuits.
Do I have a time limit to submit a claim?
Under Illinois’ statute of limitations, people have two years from the date of an accident to file personal injury lawsuits. They also have five years from the date of an accident for property damage lawsuits.
What types of damages can I collect?
Car accident victims can collect economic and non-economic damages. Examples are:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical costs
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Rental cars
- Lost wages
- Wrongful death
Do I need a lawyer if I am involved in a car accident?
If the accident is a small, fender bender, you may not have to hire a lawyer. However, if you sustained bodily injuries in the crash, a personal injury attorney can help maximize the value of your claim. Personal injury attorneys handle all insurance and legal meetings, paperwork, court appearances, etc. Personal injury lawyers fees are typically a percentage of the settlement collected on the case.
I’ve been injured in an accident, what should I do first?
If you sustain an injury in a car crash, seek medical attention as soon as you can. Keep a detailed journal of medical procedures, medical bills, lost wages and any ways the injury has affected your life. After that, you may want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney.
How do I get my car inspected and/or appraised?
Typically, an insurance company will send an appraiser. Or, they’ll send your vehicle to a repair shop to undergo inspection and/or an appraisal. However, the process varies by company. It is important to speak to your insurance agent to know what their policies are.
Is my claim worth pursuing?
If the repair costs are more than your collision deductible, you will have to make a decision. You’ll have to decide whether the insurance payout is worth a potential rate increase.
Can I get a rental car?
If you are not at fault, the other driver’s insurance covers the costs of a rental for a similar vehicle. However, you may have to pay for the rental up front first and receive a reimbursement afterwards.
But, if you have rental reimbursement in your policy, your company can provide a rental vehicle as well. After that, they will be reimbursed by the at-fault insurance policy later. However, If you are responsible for the accident and do not have rental reimbursement, then it’s different. Because, in this case, you are responsible for your own rental costs.
My car was labeled a total loss. How do I know if the actual cash value offer for my car is fair?
The actual cash value of your car is not what you paid for it. In other words, actual cash value is the replacement cost minus depreciation. You can input your car’s information in websites like Kelley Blue Book and this will give you a rough estimate of what your car is worth. If this value is significantly higher than what an insurance company offers, you may try to negotiate another offer.
What if the other driver doesn’t have enough coverage or any insurance at all?
Uninsured and underinsured coverage helps you recover damages if the other driver has little or no insurance at all. If you do not have this extra coverage, you may not be able to recover any damages at all.
Can I claim lost wages?
Yes, you can, but your employer will have to verify that there was a job to perform that you were not able to do. If you used vacation days, this process will still apply. Also, you will need to submit pay stubs, a letter from your employer and other forms. Your HR department can help you gather these.
What do I do if I was a victim of a hit and run?
Gather as much information as you can, including the make and model of the car involved and file a police report. After that, if your policy has uninsured/underinsured coverage, your policy will pay for the damages.
Can my insurance company cancel my policy for filing a claim?
An insurance provider has the right to cancel an insurance policy at any time. However, policies won’t undergo cancellation after the policyholder files a single claim. Filing multiple claims and carrying the label of a high-risk driver may result in cancellation. Moreover, an insurance company will notify you if your policy is being cancelled ahead of time.
What is a deductible?
It’s the amount of money a policyholder agrees to cover before an insurance company picks up the rest of the bill.
Why am I still making payments if my car was a total loss?
An insurance company will pay out the actual cash value of the vehicle, not the amount left on your car loan. Therefore, if you do not have gap coverage, you will be responsible for paying off the rest of the loan yourself. Gap insurance pays for the difference between the actual cash value of the car at the time it is totaled and the balance of its remaining loan or lease.
Do I have to repay my health insurance company after I get my settlement?
This depends on your health insurance plan.
What if my injuries did not show up right away?
It is common to feel unharmed after an accident and feel discomfort and pain days or even weeks after your accident. However, if you begin to experience any type of pain following a car accident, seek medical attention immediately.
For instance, if you wait too long to see a doctor and later decide to file a bodily injury claim, an adjuster may argue that you weren’t hurt by the accident. An adjuster may also try to argue that the injury isn’t as severe as you say it is.
How long will the claims process take?
It depends on several factors including the extent of the damages in the report. For example, the resolution of a small fender bender may arrive within a few weeks.
But, if it’s a claim with bodily injuries, then it’s a different situation. Moreover, it’s best not to receive an insurance settlement until you know the extent of medical treatments and injuries.
How can I speed up my car insurance claim?
Most importantly, to speed up the claim, make sure you report it immediately. Be truthful, follow your insurance company’s instructions carefully, and check in with your adjuster frequently.
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