If you recently suffered injuries in a car crash that wasn't your fault, you might wonder if you must call your insurance company to report it. While you may seek compensation from insurers through different avenues, your policy might require you to report the crash to your insurance, no matter how you intend to file a claim. An injury lawyer can report this information to all necessary insurance companies, including your own. Insurance policies should provide fair compensation for drivers and passengers involved in a crash, but this isn't always the case. Having a car accident lawyer manage communications can protect your rights as a claimant seeking compensation. Following a crash, you turn to different insurance companies to restore you to your pre-collision financial state. While they can't erase your injuries, insurers use financial compensation to get you as close as possible to your prior position. This includes covering expenses like property damage, medical bills, and intangible costs like pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Anyone with injuries from a crash should seek the assistance of a reputable personal injury attorney to secure a reasonable settlement. A lawyer can explain the process so you can better grasp the insurance company's approach to your claim, which can empower you during the settlement process. If your attorney cannot reach a fair settlement agreement, you and your attorney have the option to take the insurance company to court to seek fair compensation.
Reporting the Collision to Your Insurance CompanyWhen reporting your crash, remember that your auto insurance policy represents a legal agreement between you and the insurance provider. Following a car crash, the insurance company should fulfill its contractual obligations by providing benefits that address your needs. Under the cooperation clause of your policy, you have certain responsibilities. These clauses typically require you to actively participate and collaborate with your own insurer in any investigations related to your claim. This involves:
- Promptly reporting the collision to the insurance company—even if it wasn't your fault
- Providing all necessary information for the investigation of your claim
- Signing any required medical releases
Investigating the CrashThe insurance company won't approve your claim until it determines fault and liability for the crash through its own investigation. The insurer will assign your claim to an adjuster who might call you to gather more detailed information about the collision. A team of investigators will review your claim. Some insurance companies rely on a Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which employs individuals with law enforcement experience and insurance knowledge. Their job is to investigate and reconstruct the accident and detect fraudulent claims. The investigators will:
- Review the facts of your case
- Visit the scene of the collision
- Interview witnesses
- Analyze evidence such as your vehicle, medical records, police reports, and pictures
How Long Does an Insurance Investigation Take?Since an investigation is a substantial portion of processing a car crash claim, it may take four to six weeks to complete. If the claims adjuster is missing information or your crash is incredibly complicated, it can take longer. You and your car crash lawyer can move the process forward by quickly responding to requests for additional information. Insurance carriers sometimes drag out the investigation process, hoping to frustrate or confuse the claimant. If they succeed, the claimant might miss the statute of limitations or lose interest in pursuing the claim. Tactics like this can allow them to indirectly escape their duty to pay on a claim. However, this is much less likely to happen if you hire a skilled car crash lawyer. If there are unnecessary delays, your attorney will handle them.
Determining Liability for a Car CrashDetermining liability in a car crash allocates financial responsibility appropriately, ensuring that the party accountable covers the resulting expenses. This protects innocent parties from undue financial strain, allowing them to focus on their recovery and restoring their lives. The at-fault party's insurance company is typically financially responsible for damages and injuries. This liability assessment hinges on establishing fault and enables the insurance company to compensate the non-liable party accordingly. In situations where a car crash case progresses to litigation, the establishment of fault takes on even greater significance, having significant influence over the case's outcome. The at-fault party may find themselves obligated to reimburse the other party for an array of expenses, including medical bills, lost earnings, property repairs, pain and suffering, and other associated damages.
How is Liability Determined in a Car Accident?Law firms determine liability in a car crash through a combination of evidence, state traffic laws, and legal principles. Here are some critical factors considered:
- Police report: The initial police report can be crucial evidence. It often includes statements from involved parties, witnesses, and the officer's assessment of the collision scene.
- Traffic laws: Violations of traffic laws can establish liability. For example, if one driver ran a red light, they were likely at fault.
- Eyewitness testimony: Statements from neutral third-party witnesses can provide valuable insights into how the crash occurred.
- Photographs and videos: Visual evidence of the crash scene, vehicle positions, skid marks, and damages can help recreate the events leading up to the crash.
- Expert analysis: Accident reconstruction experts may be called upon to provide professional assessments of the crash based on physical evidence.
- Driver statements: Admissions of fault or statements made at the scene or afterward can be evidence of liability.
- Vehicle damage: The extent and location of damages can indicate how the collision occurred and who may be at fault.
- Driver actions: Actions like speeding, aggressive driving, or distracted driving can establish liability.
- Prior violations or incidents: Previous traffic violations or crashes involving the at-fault driver can be relevant in proving fault after a car crash
How Long Will a Car Crash Case Last?Like most people who are facing injuries from a car crash, you might be wondering how long your case will take. While no answer applies to every case, you can expect your case to last a number of months or even years. A case's duration can depend on:
- If there were multiple parties liable for your crash
- The types of injuries you sustained
- The long-term implications of your injuries
- The insurance policies involved