If you've been in a car accident one of the first things you must do is file a claim with your insurance company.
Each insurance company has a little different process for filing a claim. Below is a collection of the major insurance companies in the U.S. and a link directly to the claims page of their websites.
Step 1 - While at the scene of an accident:
If there is a serious injury call 911 immediately. If there's no serious injury, do NOT tie up 911 and defer emergency services. You do need to get a police report so make sure to exchange contact information, license numbers and insurance policy info with the other driver(s). Try to identify witnesses and get their phone number and contact information.
Step 2 - Contact your insurance company ASAP:
You should call your insurance company at the scene of the accident if safe and feasible. Most companies today have 24/7 filing services, you can find the phone number on your insurance card.
Step 3 - If the other driver is at fault:
You should notify the other driver's insurance company that you'll be pursuing an accident claim through your insurance carrier.
Step 4 - Insurance interview:
At some point you'll have to go into great detail with a claims representative to help determine fault, cause and a sequence of events that lead up to the accident. It's important to be thorough, and honest as the call will be recorded. Make sure to take notes because If the case leads to a lawsuit you need to make sure that any statement you make is consistent.
Step 5 - Adjuster:
The claims adjuster may need to make an in-person visit to assess the value of the claim and estimate the cost to fix or replace your property. After this, the insurance
company will cut a check for the amount that the adjuster determines, minus the amount of your deductible. If the car is deemed "totaled" the adjuster will estimate your recovery based on the
cash value of the vehicle.
Step 6 - Insurance disputes:
When insurance is involved, it is almost inevitable that there will be a dispute. If the settlement is too low you may be headed to arbitration. The process can take several
weeks to months. Usually you will be given the dollar amount that was offered immediately, while the remaining balance is disputed. If you have suffered significant property or bodily injury you
may need to contact a personal injury attorney.
If the insurance company has denied your claim, "low balled" you, or if you believe they are purposely delaying stalling the process for financial reasons you may want to discuss your matter with an insurance bad faith lawyer. These types of attorneys fight insurance companies all day long, and they're usually really good at motivating the insurance company to do the right thing by their customers. Many times a client has been denied, the insurance company is just hoping they'll go away and won't persist in pursuing their matter. If you were injured and you did not receive fair compensation or feel you are being treated unfairly, don;t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get ready to fight.
If you've been in a car accident or were injured in a motor vehicle collision, you are going to need to find a quality personal injury attorney. The problem is most attorneys that advertise as "personal injury experts" usually don't dedicate their practice to helping people who have been injured in a car or truck accident. These attorneys usually have a website that says that they'll basically take any case that walks through their door: injury, bankruptcy, criminal defense, family law Etc. An expert accident lawyer usually dedicates 100% of their entire practice to helping accident victims. They don't have time or resources to dedicate to splitting their expertise between 2-5 different areas of law. When looking for an injury lawyer, or any specific type of attorney for that matter, you should find some one who focuses or specializes in the area of law that you're looking for.