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Car accidents can be frightening, and they can do serious damage to vehicles and the people in them. While being treated for injuries is very important after an accident, you also don’t want to waste any time in opening a claim.

By opening your claim early, you have greater access to available evidence (including your own memory) and the sooner your insurance company can start investigating the accident to determine whether your claim will be paid. If more information is needed or if your claim is denied, there may be additional steps you need to take so the earlier you open your claim, the better your chance at having it resolved in your favor.

Get All of Your Documentation Together

Before you officially make the claim, organize your available documentation. That includes any medical records related to the accident, any quotes you have received to fix the damage to your vehicle, and the police report you had taken at the time of the accident. If you do not yet have these when you want to open your claim, then provide them to your insurance company as soon as you can after receiving them.

Even for smaller car accidents, you should always attempt to have a police report made. Insurance companies often look to police reports as an initial source of evidence as to what happened in a crash. The more evidence and witness statements you can provide your insurance company in your favor, the more likely that you will be able to effectively resolve your claim.

What Kind of Claim Are You Making?

You can make a car insurance accident claim for injuries you sustained, harm that came to a passenger, or damage sustained by your vehicle even if there were no serious injuries. Depending on the type of claim you make and the terms of your insurance coverage, you could be entitled to payments for medical expenses, wage loss, vehicle repair, and other compensation.

Additionally, the claim may be opened with your own insurance company (first party claim) or against another person’s insurance company (third party claim). If someone else struck your vehicle with theirs, you should still consider opening a claim with your insurance company, which owes you several duties that the other driver’s insurance company does not. You will still be able to pursue damages from the other driver’s insurance. The type of insurance and the amount of coverage the other driver has, however, could affect payment of your claim.

How to Submit Your Claim

There can be hidden injuries that don’t show up for a while after a car accident, and it’s important to be examined by a doctor to look for any signs of these or risk factors for them. But don’t wait for too long to submit your claim. There is generally a time period or a statute of limitations, and if you wait beyond that before filing you may not be entitled to submit a claim at all.

When you submit your claim, follow the instructions provided by your insurance company. Most companies have claim submission as one of their menu options when you call them, so your information can go to the correct department right away. Before signing any documentation or giving a statement to another driver’s insurance, however, you should always consult with an attorney.

What Happens After Your Claim is Submitted?

Once a claim is submitted, you should receive a claim or confirmation number. That can be used to check on the status of your claim. You may be contacted to answer more questions or provide further documentation, and the insurance company may send someone out to take a look at your vehicle and assess the level of damage done to it.

You may also be asked to submit pictures of the damage, medical records from the incident, a copy of the police report, and other pertinent information. The faster you provide information, the faster your claim can be processed in the majority of cases. Again, before signing any documentation or giving a statement to another driver’s insurance, you should always consult with an attorney.

What Should You Do if Your Claim is Denied?

In some cases, a claim may be denied. The insurance company could decide that their driver was not at fault, or they could argue that you didn’t provide them with enough information to make a determination. You can decrease the chance of getting an unfavorable decision by an insurance company by getting a police report to document what happened and getting prompt medical attention if you believe you sustained any injuries.

Sometimes insurance companies will deny a claim regardless of the information you provide. In cases like that, it may be necessary for you to retain the services of an attorney to work with (or against) the insurance company on your behalf.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the Lehmbecker Law Firm today to discuss your options and receive your free consultation. You need a legal advocate on your side, and we may be able to help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries. You should not have to deal with your injuries, a damaged car, and a troublesome insurance company on your own, and we want to help you through the process of getting the treatment you need and the recovery you deserve after a crash.

Larry A. Lehmbecker
Firm Founder, Larry Lehmbecker, has nearly 40 year’s of experience fighting for the injured in Washington State. He is always eager to share his knowledge to help those in need.
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