Making an Insurance Claim After an Accident
How to File an Insurance Claim after an Accident
Accidents happen suddenly and unexpectedly. You may feel shaken up and a bit disoriented when the car you’re in is involved in a crash, but it is important to focus to the extent you are able on the steps you need to take immediately following the accident, including getting the information that you’ll need when filing an accident report with the police and with your insurance company. Naturally, the first thing to do is to determine if anyone involved in the accident needs immediate medical attention and if so, see that they get it.
Call the Police
In Alabama, a legal requirement that also functions as a first step in preparing to file an insurance claim is reporting the accident to the police and filing a police report. Alabama requires that any driver involved in a crash that causes injury, death, or more than $250 in property damage be reported to the Alabama Department of Public Safety within 30 days. It is a good idea to call the police to the accident scene. The police report will create a record of the accident that the insurance company will include with your claim forms. Get the officer’s name and badge number to facilitate retrieving the report from the department later on.
Obtain Insurance and Contact Information
Alabama is a fault state, so if you’ve been injured, you will need to look to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If your condition allows, write down the names and driver’s license numbers of all drivers and owners of all vehicles involved in the accident, along with vehicle registration and plate numbers and insurance company names and policy numbers. Also get contact information for any witnesses. Provide this information when you report the accident to your own insurance company.
While you are obtaining this information, never discuss who caused the accident, never discuss your physical condition, and never apologize. The facts may not be all that clear at first, and although you may feel that it’s the polite thing to do, it may easily be construed as an admission of guilt. It is important that you realize that Alabama is one of only four states that use the doctrine “pure contributory negligence”, which means that if you are found to be even one percent responsible for causing the accident, you will not be able to recover from the other driver’s insurance. Anything that may be construed as an admission of guilt might disqualify you from benefits under your own uninsured motorist or PIP coverage as well, since it could preclude your carrier from being able to recover the payout from the other driver’s company.
Get Medical Attention
Have yourself checked out right after the accident and report any points of impact on your body or any pain or discomfort. It is not always possible to determine what your injuries are in the beginning, but you will be establishing a basis for a claim to recover medical expenses when the full extent of your injuries becomes known.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Even though you did not cause the accident, you will need to report it to your own insurance company. If the at-fault driver turns out not to have insurance or to have too little to cover your damages, you may need to look to your own personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured motorist coverage (UIM). Both these coverages are optional in Alabama.
If you are carrying collision, PIP, or UIM coverage, your insurance company will pay to repair your car and will cover your medical expenses up to your policy limits. They will then try to get the money back from the company that covers the at-fault driver. Your company will provide the necessary paperwork.
Call an Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a member of your family suffered any injury, or if a member of your family died in the accident, it is imperative that you contact a well experienced Alabama attorney, preferably with a practice dedicated exclusively to personal injury law. Insurance companies typically try to pay as little as possible on a claim and employ various tactics to try to minimize payouts. Having a knowledgeable, skilled, and committed attorney handling your case is the best way to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that the insurance company will pay for all of your economic damages, such as medical bills and lost earnings, and your non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, and any other damage to your quality of life.
The Drake Law Firm handles personal injury and wrongful death claims exclusively and has AV-rated Birmingham personal injury attorneys who have earned the approbation of their peers in the legal community through years of successfully recovering compensation for accident victims in Alabama. Call Drake Law today for a free accident consultation.