What to Expect with Your Insurance Claim

Directly after an accident, it is critical that you follow the following steps to the best of your abilities:

  • Document your injuries and the accident: If you do not document the scene of the accident, there may be no way to prove liability for the accident. It is important to do this as soon as possible, as the responsible party may take steps to remove the liability, thus removing your proof.  After the initial documentation, it behooves you to keep a record of your health and recovery after the accident. This is important when calculating future medical costs, emotional distress, and it may even help you work with your doctor toward a faster recovery.
  • Receive treatment for your injuries: Medical treatment is the best type of documentation for your injuries. A medical professional can perform the necessary tests to both verify your injuries and check for other injuries that you may not have noticed. Again, this is time sensitive. The longer you wait, the easier it is for an insurance company to argue that the accident may not have caused your injuries.
  • Find a personal injury attorney: Although you can file a claim on your own, a personal injury attorney has intimate knowledge of the law and of insurance company practices. A skilled lawyer will help you file the claim, investigate the accident, calculate the damages, and guide you through the legal complexities of a personal injury suit.

These steps are necessary to a successful insurance claim. Once you have filed a claim, the insurance company is going to work against you so that they can be relieved of damages or decrease the amount of damages owed. They may require that you visit a doctor who is approved by the insurance company; this doctor may not diagnose all of your injuries or may decrease the expected costs of recovery. Many insurance companies divide your medical bills into two categories, diagnostic and treatment. Diagnostic costs are those associated with ambulance rides, negative test results, etc. Treatment costs are those that are directly related to fixing your injury. Insurance companies will often attempt to pay only for treatment costs, but a capable personal injury attorney can fight for your right to compensation for all medical costs caused by the accident.

Your personal injury attorney can calculate the damages using a method that typically involves adding the medical costs, lost wages, and estimated emotional stress. The damages amount will also be affected by the severity of the injury, whether it is total or partial disability and whether it is temporary or permanent disability. Your lawyer will also check the limits on the defendant's insurance policy; if for example you were involved in an auto accident and the just compensation is more than the policy limit, your attorney can claim Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UMC).

The insurance company will likely try to convince you to settle early on; if your injuries are not serious, this may be a good option for you. Settling early saves you legal fees, gets you paid sooner, and gives you more time to focus on your recovery. It is important to note, however, that an early settlement is usually compensated much less than a deliberative one.

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