Anyone who’s been in a car accident knows: the stress and trauma take a toll. The steps you take in the following minutes and hours might make or break your health and wallet. You must ensure you do everything the law requires you to do. We’ve put together a 10 step process of a personal injury claims process. Use this to prepare yourself if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of being involved in an auto accident.
What are the 10 Steps for the Personal Injury Claims Process?
- Check for Injuries After an Accident
- Document Evidence for Your Personal Injury Case
- File a Claim with your Insurance Company
- Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Auto Accident Attorney for your Case
- Determine the Severity of Your Personal Injury
- Demand a Settlement
- Case Settles or a Lawsuit Is Filed
1. Check for Injuries After an Auto Accident
Make sure that you stop your car in a safe place. Do not leave the scene of the accident. This is a crime. Check yourself and others for injuries. Call 911 to get medical help for anyone with injuries. According to Louisiana law, drivers involved in an auto accident must report the accident to the police if any injury or death occurs, or if there is over $500 in property damage. Many insurance companies also require you to call the police after an auto accident. Check with your policy to find out the terms and conditions.
After the shock of an accident, you may not realize you have suffered a serious head, neck, back, or organ injury. Just because you can’t see an injury or think you only received minor cuts and scrapes, it is still best to have a medical professional evaluate you. Listen to the advice of a medical professional, as they can assess any internal injuries and explain what to expect physically after a car accident.
Lots of people choose not to call the police after an accident because at first, it seemed like there were only minor damages or injuries. But often, property damage and injuries arise later. Failure to document an accident with a police report may make it harder to get compensation for your damages later on.
2. Document Evidence for Your Personal Injury Case
If you can, we recommend that you take photos of the:
- license plates
- nearby traffic controls
- any visible injuries
Write down the:
- driver’s name
- phone number
- license plate number
- the vehicle owner’s name
If there were any witnesses, you should also collect their names and contact information. Try to limit conversation with other parties. Do not admit fault or assign blame. In order to aid your memory, write down as many details as possible as soon as you can. It is easy to forget important details in the aftermath, but the more information you have, the easier your case will be.
3. File a Claim with your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies require you to report the accident very soon after the crash.
Your insurance company might ask you to provide a statement. We do not recommend this. Keep in mind that YOU pay your insurance company. They technically work for you, and you don’t owe them anything.
Your attorney should help you with the personal injury claim process, not your insurance company.
It is best to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an auto accident. Then your attorney can advise you how to approach your insurance company. The attorneys at Gordon & Gordon provide free initial consultations. It will cost you nothing to double check with an attorney. This could end up saving you thousands later on.
Even though your insurance company is supposed to be on your side, they might try to diminish your accident and injuries to avoid paying for your damages.Insurance companies always do everything in their power to maximize their profits. They do this by limiting their payments to you as much as possible.
In most cases, your insurance company is best equipped to help you get your vehicle fixed or pay for a total loss. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, your insurance company can help you get back on the road, as long as you have collision coverage under your policy. After that, your insurance company will seek reimbursement from the insurance company of the driver at fault.
4. Free Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Auto Accident Attorney
In many cases, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will contact you. They might ask you to provide a written or recorded statement. It is not in your best interest to do so. They might also offer you a small amount of money and ask you to sign a release. Again, it is not in your best interest to do so.
In our many years as Louisiana personal injury auto accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon, we often advise clients to contact insurance companies as little as possible and never to accept fast cash. Your injuries might last longer than you thought they would. When you sign a release, you will not be able to reopen your claim. Never accept settlements or sign any documents without legal counsel.
The Louisiana attorneys at Gordon & Gordon have a long history of representing anyone that has suffered a personal injury. Hiring us for your case will help ensure your insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you during the the personal injury claim process. Our attorneys can help you manage the numerous calls you receive from insurance adjusters. We can fight against low settlement offers from insurance companies.
Scheduling a consultation with one of our attorneys after your personal injury from an auto accident will be free. We only receive compensation for our legal services if we help you recover damages.
5. Determine the Severity of Your Personal Injury
Once you’ve reached this stage in the process of the personal injury claim process, your legal team will lead you going forward. Our personal injury attorneys at Gordon & Gordon conduct further investigation into the accident. We follow up with you regularly regarding your medical treatment. We also order your medical bills and records as you continue treatment.
Sometimes your pain or injury might not go away. If this happens, we contact your doctor and get a report to submit along with any treatment records. This step can often take a long time because it depends on how you are feeling. Before you consider accepting any offer from an insurance company, you need to have a clear idea of how you’re feeling.
6. Demand a Settlement
After your injuries have stabilized, we usually demand the insurance to offer a settlement. A settlement is a sum of money an insurance company offers to resolve a dispute with you, the accident victim.
The insurance company will make the first offer. In almost all cases, the first settlement offer is extremely low. It is often an almost laughable amount. They want to see if you’re willing to accept fast cash now rather than wait for a bigger payout later on.
Insurance companies know that many victims don’t understand how quickly medical bills can pile up. They try to make an offer quickly before accident victims have the chance to consult a lawyer. Don’t let the insurance company do this to you.
7. Case Settles or a Lawsuit Is Filed
After receiving settlement offers from insurance adjusters, you get the chance to decide whether you want to settle your case or file a lawsuit. Many clients are afraid of going to trial and say that they would prefer to settle. Insurance companies know this too well and offer low settlement amounts.
At this stage of the personal injury claim process, your attorney at Gordon & Gordon will provide guidance. We can tell you whether the offer from the insurance company is fair and whether it makes sense to continue with a lawsuit.
During this part of the personal injury claim process, your attorney will provide guidance on whether the offer from the insurance company is fair and whether it makes sense to continue with a lawsuit.
There are pros and cons for settling and going to court. The experienced Louisiana personal injury auto accident attorneys at Gordon & Gordon will advise you on which option is best for you.
In the event you decide not to accept the settlement offer and file a lawsuit, the case begins a discovery period. Discovery means that your personal injury attorney at Gordon & Gordon get to find out more information about the other side. The other side will also learn more about you. Both sides are permitted to request documents, pictures and depositions.
Attorneys have the chance to ask questions of involved parties during a personal injury deposition. These people could include police officers, witnesses, treating doctors, or anyone else who might provide evidence in the case of the trial.
Once this process is complete, the court usually orders mediation prior to the start of a trial.
Mediation is the final, informal alternative to going to trial during a personal injury claims process. In a mediation, a neutral third party facilitates a discussion between both sides. The goal is to promote a resolution of the disputes before a trial. The mediator gets to lead the discussion but does not get to make decisions about the case. During a trial, the judge has the ultimate power and influence over the outcome of the case.
In the event a mediation is unsuccessful, the case goes to trial. If you’re in a busy Parish, a trial might take a year to start after filing. As long as you filed your personal injury lawsuit claim within a year of the accident, you’re in the clear.
The injured person needs to prove that the other driver was negligent during a trial. He or she must also show how much money the jury should award in damages. The court asks the jury to decide if you were negligent and if your negligence caused your own injuries. Once everyone testifies, the jury decides on a final verdict.
Fault and liability are determined by the “pure comparative negligence” standard in Louisiana. This means that each driver involved in an auto accident is responsible for their own share of the liability or fault in the accident.
If you were injured or sustained property damage from an accident and you were partly at fault, you can still recover some damages. The exact amount of compensation you recover depends on how much you contributed to the accident.
Let the Personal Injury Attorneys at Gordon & Gordon Handle the Personal Claims Process For You
If you were the victim of a personal injury due to another person’s negligence in a car accident, you have nothing to fear with the help of Gordon & Gordon Law Firm. Our clients can tell you about the great results we produce for our clients. If you have a personal injury case and want to speak to a personal injury attorney, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We know how to help you navigate the personal injury claims process.