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If you’ve suffered a personal injury due to an auto accident that wasn’t your fault, you’ll file a bodily injury claim with the at-fault party’s auto insurance provider.
Exceptions to this include:
- If you live in a no-fault state that requires personal injury protection as part of its liability insurance requirements. In this case, you’ll file the claim with your own insurance company.
- If you were the passenger. In this case, you’ll file with either your own insurance company or the other party’s insurance company. Contact your insurance company or state insurance department for details.
- If you live in a state, or were involved in an accident in a state, that allows cash or security deposits or self-insurance in lieu of an actual car insurance policy, and the at-fault party uses one of those methods. In this case, contact the state agency that handles such vehicle insurance matters to get details on how to seek compensation.
If you’re physically able, make sure you don’t leave the scene of the accident without:
- The names of, contact information for, and insurance information for everyone involved in the accident.
- The time, date, and location of the accident. It’s also a good idea to get a photograph of your vehicle.
- A copy of the police report. You might have to collect this at a later date, but at the very least get the name of the officer handling the accident.
Keep in mind that you’ll probably visit the emergency room immediately following the accident. Be sure to document your ambulance trip (if you took one) as well as the treatment you received, the doctor’s diagnosis and/or referral, and the costs of both the ambulance trip and the hospital visit.
One trip to the emergency room doesn’t make a strong case for an adequate bodily injury claim settlement.
Be sure to follow up with your doctor regarding any pain or injuries he treated following the accident, or anything you’ve experienced since your initial visit. Also make sure to make an appointment (and keep it) with any specialists your physician or the emergency room doctor recommends.
The insurance company’s claims adjuster will request these medical reports, but it’s a good idea to also document the visits for your own records.
Once you’ve gathered the information and have sought medical treatment (remember, this doesn’t mean you’re finished with treatment; it simply means you’ve been and are going to the doctor), contact the at-fault party’s insurance company to open a bodily injury claim.
A claims adjuster will take it from there. Be prepared to provide the information you gathered as well as answer questions such as:
- Who is your doctor and what is his or her contact information?
- What were you treated for? Are you still being treated?
- Have you seen any specialists? What for?
- Are you still experiencing pain related to the injury you sustained?
- Have you received treatment for this problem prior to the accident? If so, when?
You don’t necessarily need a personal injury attorney to open a bodily injury claim, but it’s a good idea to have a lawyer who specializes in bodily injury cases on your side once it’s time to get to the meat of the claim (i.e. the interviews with the claims adjuster) and once you receive your settlement ruling (see below).
Once your bodily injury claim is processed, you’ll receive your settlement decision.
A personal injury attorney can help you determine whether this is a fair settlement and, if it’s not, how to proceed with settlement dispute.
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