What are the steps of the claims process?

An Overview of the Insurance Claim Process

When you get in an accident, what should you do? The first steps are easy:
  • Move your car to the side of the road;
  • Make sure no one is injured, and get medical help for those who are;
  • Call 911;
  • Take pictures of the vehicles;
  • Exchange information with the other party;
  • Call your insurance company.

Next comes the insurance claim process.

Dealing with your insurance company

Typically you will need to coordinate with your claims adjuster, who will ask you a series of questions, including:

  • What were the circumstances of the collision?
  • What are your injuries?
  • How badly damaged is your vehicle?
  • Where is your car located?

Sometimes the insurance adjuster will ask for a recorded statement from you about the accident. Most insurance policies require you to cooperate with the adjuster but do not require you to give a recorded statement.

Getting your vehicle repaired

Your insurance company will want you to use one of their preferred repair shops, but you are not required to do so. When you decide where you want the car fixed, tell the insurance company and the adjuster will reach an agreed price with the shop. This is the price that the insurance company agrees to pay, and the shop agrees to accept. You should not be charged anything other than your deductible.

Filing an injury claim

An injured person is entitled to recover the reasonable value of medical bills, lost wages, damaged vehicles, and a reasonable value for pain and suffering. Determining what a case is worth requires experience, and therefore it is best to consult with a personal injury lawyer. If you do decide to handle it yourself, remember that a statute of limitations limits the time you have to either file a claim or launch a lawsuit. Each state has its own statute of limitations, so ask an injury attorney what the statute is in your area.

Sometimes adjusters will just send a check for the amount they have deemed your case to be worth. Be very, very wary of signing and cashing such a check without first consulting an attorney. Once you cash it, your case is considered settled and cannot be re-opened later if your injuries and medical bills turn out to be more than originally thought.

Get legal help to maintain your rights and options after a serious car accident

When a serious collision happens, the best way to help an injured person is to find the legal help they will need to recover financially from the costs they are dealing with. Medical bills, lost wages from missed work, damaged vehicles, and other financial stresses are often associated with injury car accidents. An experienced injury lawyer will take over the process of financial recovery so that the injured person can concentrate on moving forward.

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Everett-Bellingham WA

Does size matter? In car v. semi crashes like this one, yes it does

A recent catastrophic accident involving two semi tractor trailers and six cars or pickup trucks showed how clearly large trucks have the advantage in an accident. However, does this mean cars are always going to lose in accidents with bigger vehicles? Increasingly, materials and engineering have leveled the field. Read more from Bill Coats Law in Bellingham, WA about top safety ratings for cars

Everett-Bellingham WA

What kinds of damages are available in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Bill Coats Law, a personal injury firm in Bellingham, WA, specializes in wrongful death lawsuits and the complexities of car accident cases. A common question when family members come out of the fog and trauma of losing a loved one in a car accident is what kinds of damages are available to help them dig out of the financial tragedy. Click to read about your rights in wrongful death lawsuits

Everett-Bellingham WA

An often-overlooked key to winning settlements in personal injury cases

Negotiation, strategy, experience and skill - all of these qualities make a personal injury claim reach a successful verdict or settlement. But here is one key aspect that can easily be overlooked by personal injury attorneys working with injured people. Bill Coats Law, of Bellingham, Washington, is the top car accident law firm in the fourth corner and writes on this basic human quality that wins cases.

Everett-Bellingham WA

[VIDEO] A guide to using your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection

It's a step not everyone will have to take, but using your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection means some fairly complicated fine print can affect your claim. Insurers are skilled at looking for ways to reduce your compensation, as it saves their bottom line. Click here for a video series from Bill Coats Law on what you need to know about using your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. 

Everett-Bellingham WA

Take this step before you file for uninsured/underinsured motorist protection

A little-know rule called the Hamilton Rule factors into uninsured/underinsured motorist policies. Though very seldom used, it gives insurance companies the right to sue an at-fault driver before the victim would file a claim to recoup their losses. If you don't take this step in the right order, your insurance company deny your claim and pay you nothing. Click to watch this video by Bill Coats Law on taking this necessary step in the claims process.

Everett-Bellingham WA

Calculating wage loss is an important aspect of assessing damages

One of the most important aspects of figuring out a fair settlement is including money for lost wages. Lost wages don't just mean the time off of work someone had to take while recovering from injuries. What if you can't go back to the same job you had before and must take a lower paying job instead? Check out this video on wage loss to determine if you might be due more money for your claim than the insurance company is trying to offer.

Everett-Bellingham WA

How a good personal injury attorney can help accident victims find money for lost wages

Don suffered disc injuries to his low back in an accident where the at-fault driver pulled into traffic and struck the side of Don’s classic 1955 Ford T-Bird. Don’s injuries were severe enough that he could not return to his physically demanding work as a paramedic. Although Don was close to retirement, he was counting on a few more good work years. Here is one accident victim's story of how a good personal injury attorney helped him find money for lost wages, despite the fact that the at-fault driver did not have car insurance

Everett-Bellingham WA

Bicyclists who are hit by a hit and run driver still have options for financial recovery

A hit and run accident that happens to a bicycle rider is unconscionable. In most accidents between a car and a bike, the bicyclist is the one with the far greater injuries. On a bicycle, you are much more vulnerable to impact than in a car, even at relatively low speeds. If the driver takes off, added to the pain of the injuries is the frustration and anger at that terrible response. Even if the driver who hit you while you were on bicycle is never found, you have options for recovery. Click to learn what they are.