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Bodily injury insurance is in place to provide you with compensation should you sustain injuries during an auto accident.
If you’re injured during an auto accident, you’ll file a bodily injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company; however, you’ll file with your own insurance company if:
- You live in a no-fault state that requires personal injury protection as part of your liability insurance policy.
- You were the passenger. (If this is the case, check with each insurance company or your state’s insurance department about policies regarding filing with both your insurance company and the at-fault party’s insurance company.)
When you file a bodily injury claim, you must provide the insurance company’s claims adjuster with certain pieces of information.
During the time period between the auto accident and filing the claim, collect the following:
- The names of and contact information for everyone involved.
- The insurance information for everyone involved.
- Accident-specific information, such as the time, date, and location of the accident. Although you’re filing a bodily injury claim, it’s also a good idea to take pictures of the vehicle.
- Whether a police report was filed. Depending on the insurance company, you might need to present a copy of the police report.
- Whether you needed an ambulance to transport you to the hospital from the scene of the accident.
- The costs of your initial hospital and other medical bills (think the ambulance ride and emergency room visit).
Your claims adjuster will ask numerous other questions during the process (see below); however, the above is the kind of information you can gather immediately following the accident.
Obviously, a bodily injury claim with no medical reports isn’t going to hold much water; however, one trip to the emergency room isn’t going to impress anyone, either.
In other words, visit your regular physician (or a specialist to whom your emergency room doctor or physician refers you) after your initial emergency room visit. Keep up with your appointments and treatment plans, and be prepared for the claims adjuster to request copies of your medical files related to the accident.
NOTE: This isn’t always the case, but be prepared for the insurance company to request that you see a medical professional of its choosing.
In addition to the above information, your claims adjuster will ask you questions such as:
- What’s your physician’s name and contact information?
- Are you still under the care of a doctor?
- How many doctors have you seen? Have you seen any specialists?
- What were you treated for? Are you still being treated for that diagnosis?
- What kind of treatments have you received?
- Do you have a history of pain or injury to that same body part?
- When was the last time you were treated for pain or an injury to that body part?
- Do you have any residual injuries or pain?
As you can see, some of the questions are pretty straightforward; others, on the other hand, can get a bit tricky and your claims adjuster can manipulate your answers if you aren’t careful.
It’s best to hire an attorney with experience handling bodily injury claims cases. Remember, even if you’re no where near the point of determining whether to accept or dispute the settlement, having a bodily injury or personal injury attorney helping you navigate the process can help prevent getting to that point.
Most states require vehicle owners to purchase a liability insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. Within this policy is bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage.
However, there are a few states that don’t require insurance, and a handful provide other options such as:
- Making a deposit of a certain amount in cash or securities.
- Filing self insurance.
If you live in, or are involved in an accident in, one of these states, check with the local DMV office or other state agency that handles vehicle registration to ask about the procedure for seeking bodily injury compensation.
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