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Car accidents happen in the blink of an eye. One moment you’re driving down the highway and the next moment your life has been turned upside down by another driver. When you’ve experienced a crash and been injured or suffered property damage, you may not understand what to do next. But what you do at the scene and during every step of the process along the way can greatly affect your settlement amount, or even whether you get a settlement. Here is a guide to the steps in the car accident claim process.
At the scene, first check for injuries and call 911, if necessary. Also, call the police and report the accident. Exchange insurance information and contact information with the other driver. Then gather evidence about the crash to use in filing your car accident claim. If there were witnesses to the accident, ask them for statements. In addition to the police report, witness statements can be valuable evidence. Write down everything you remember about how the accident occurred and take photos of the accident scene. Get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible and include the doctor’s report and any other medical documentation in your claim file.
Alabama is an at-fault state, which means that the at-fault driver’s insurance will typically cover your medical bills and other losses. However, you are still required to report the accident to your insurance company, and your insurer may have a timeframe for doing so. Check your policy for timing information. Your insurance adjuster will probably work with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to settle the claim. If not, you can file a claim directly, but be very careful in speaking with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Stick strictly to the facts you gave to police.
The other driver’s insurance company might ask you for a written or recorded statement about the details of the accident. You are under no legal obligation to provide such a statement. In fact, it is wise not to do so as what you say may be held against you later and result in a lower settlement offer, or no offer at all. Instead, refer them to your own insurance adjuster or your attorney, if you have one.
Consider taking the step of contacting a Foley car accident attorney to handle your insurance claim. An attorney can represent you with the insurance companies and negotiate on your behalf. An attorney who knows Alabama’s complex insurance and personal injury laws knows what to say and not to say to insurance companies. An attorney can also help you determine what a fair settlement amount is for your injuries, lost time at work, possible future medical treatment you might need and other damages.
And if insurance company negotiations break down, you may wish to file a civil personal injury suit against the other driver, which the attorney can handle on your behalf. Be aware that there is a statute of limitations in Alabama for bringing personal injury and property damage legal claims in car accidents—it is two years from the date of the accident.
When you’ve been in a crash, a Foley car accident lawyer can guide you through the entire claims process to help ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Reach out to our experienced attorneys at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana today to schedule a free case evaluation. Call us at (251) 444-7000, toll free at (855) 390-5566 or visit us online.