Car accidents can shake us to our core, interrupting the rhythm of our everyday lives. They introduce a series of complex questions and challenges that many of us are unprepared to face, like managing physical injuries, negotiating with insurance companies, and dealing with the mental and emotional aftermath of the event. Our Riverside car accident lawyers meet clients daily who are facing these challenges. Luckily, procedures are in place to help injury victims like you file a car accident claim after a crash. In this blog, we’ll outline the steps for filing a car accident claim in California so you can move forward with your life.
Steps in the Car Accident Claim Process
The car accident claim process might seem intimidating, but many of the steps are straightforward. Generally, this is what you will do to file a claim:
- Report the accident to the police – Even if you’ve left the scene, it’s essential to have a police report documenting the crash. This official record is a critical piece of evidence in an accident claim. If the police did not respond at the scene, you can visit your local police station or their website to report the incident.
- Document everything – Take time to gather and document all relevant information about the accident. This can include the police report, injury photos, vehicle damages photos, witness contact information, medical records, and receipts of expenses related to the crash.
- Notify your insurance company – Be prepared to provide the insurer with all the details about the incident, but avoid saying anything that might indicate you were at fault.
- Hire a car accident attorney – A lawyer can guide you through the claims process, negotiate with insurance companies, and work to maximize your compensation.
- File your claim – After hiring an attorney, it’s time to file your claim. The claim should detail the circumstances of the accident, the injuries you suffered, and the financial impact, including medical bills and lost wages.
- Negotiate a settlement – Filing your claim starts the negotiation process with the insurance company. Your attorney will use their experience and knowledge to negotiate a just settlement on your behalf. Remember, the goal is to fully compensate you for the damages you’ve incurred due to the accident.
Things to Avoid When Filing a Car Accident Claim
Be aware of these potential missteps when filing a car accident claim, which can jeopardize your ability to seek compensation:
Don’t Delay Reporting the Accident
Report the crash to law enforcement and your insurer as soon as possible. Delaying might cause complications with your claim and could even lead to your insurance company denying it altogether.
Avoid Giving Recorded Statements Without Legal Counsel
Insurance companies may ask you to provide a recorded statement about the accident. While this may seem innocent, it’s important to remember that the insurance company may use your words against you to minimize or deny your claim. Never give any recorded statements without talking to a lawyer first.
Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer
An insurance company’s first settlement offer is usually lower than what you may deserve. They’re hoping that you’ll want to resolve the matter quickly. While it’s tempting to accept this initial offer and move on, doing so could leave you without compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
Avoid Going It Alone
The legal process can be complex and confusing. Trying to navigate it on your own could lead to costly mistakes. Hiring a skilled personal injury attorney can help you avoid these pitfalls and increase your chances of a successful claim.
The wisest decision you can make to help your car accident claim go smoothly is to hire a seasoned lawyer. The team at Wagner Zemming Christensen can handle the legal busywork while you concentrate on healing and rebuilding your life. Call [phone-number] or reach out online today for a free consultation.