According to the CDC, the cost of medical care and productivity losses caused by motor vehicle accidents in 2017 “exceeded $75 billion” dollars. That’s a huge price tag by anyone’s standards. Fortunately, car insurance can help alleviate a lot of this financial burden. Also, keep in mind that car insurance is legally required in the United States. This is a good thing, however, since it ensures that if another driver ever hits you, you’re protected from being overwhelmed by medical bills.
Let’s start with the basics of what to do if you get into a car accident.
What to do after a car accident?
The first thing to know is that the amount of compensation you get from your claim depends heavily on whether or not you take the appropriate steps after an accident.
It’s very important that you do the following immediately after an auto accident:
- Check to see if anyone was injured and call 911.
- Get to safety (move your car off to the side of the road if it is safe to do so). DO NOT leave the scene, however.
- Exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident (if there are any). Make sure to get names, license plates, and all insurance information possible. If a police officer is sent to document the accident, make sure to ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.
- Take pictures of any vehicles that were involved in the accident, paying extra attention to any damaged parts. If relevant, include photos of the scene of the accident as well. It might also be a good idea to take photos of license plates, just to make sure that that the information you took down is as accurate as possible.
- Call and wait for roadside assistance.
Please note that hitting another car and leaving the scene without reporting the accident may be considered a hit-and-run, so it is always best to stop and stay at the scene. If you find yourself in such a situation, consulting with a hit and run accident lawyer is advisable.
What is an insurance claim?
A car insurance claim is a request for your insurance company to pay out financial compensation for an accident that you were in. The claim may cover injuries to yourself, other drivers, or the vehicles involved. The exact scope of insurance coverage depends heavily on your plan, and the insurance laws of the state that you live in.
Is Pennsylvania a no fault state?
Before talking about how to actually file an insurance claim, however, we need to talk about the difference between a fault and a no-fault state.
Generally speaking, in a no-fault state, each party’s insurance has to pay for their damages in case of a car accident. In an at-fault state, on the other hand, the claim payout depends on who’s fault the accident was.
Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. To be more specific, however, Pennsylvania is also one of just a few “choice” states. This means that you can choose whether to opt-in or out of the no-fault system. When selecting an insurance plan, Pennsylvanians are typically able to choose between a full-tort and limited-tort insurance plan.
How to file an insurance claim?
First off, if you do get into a car accident, try to stay calm. As we mentioned earlier, always stay at the scene of the accident, don’t immediately drive off.
Also, make sure to collect as much information as possible. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible and they will lead you through the steps of how to file your insurance claim.
Generally speaking, the process will include filing paperwork and submitting any evidence you have. Depending on your insurance company, they may send someone out to evaluate the damage to your car for themselves.
How much can someone get from an insurance claim?
The exact amount of compensation you receive from your insurance claim will depend on a variety of factors.
Having said that, here are a few of the things you might be able to request compensation for:
- Medical bills – Keep in mind that you should always get all of the medical assistance that you need following your accident. Keep all receipts and follow your physician’s directions. Failure to do so can heavily undermine your claim. Addiionally, it is crucial to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney who can proivde guidane specific to your case.
- Lost income or wages – Always mention any losses in wages that resulted from your injuries. Your lawyer may be able to get some compensation for these.
- Property damage – It’s a good idea to take note of any expensive things that may have been damaged in the accident. Think about any laptops, phones, or other expensive items that may have been in the car with you during the accident.
- Pain and suffering or other emotional damages.
These numbers vary wildly depending on the extent of your injuries and whether you live in a fault or no-fault state. Furthermore, payout also heavily depends on your insurance plan’s coverage. Your insurance company will most likely only pay up to the maximum, regardless of the financial damages.
That’s why you should always opt for an insurance policy that covers more so that you’re protected in the case of an accident.
Furthermore, it is always best to contact a lawyer if you find yourself the victim of a car crash. A lawyer can advise you regarding your legal rights and might be able to win you a larger settlement.
How long does a car insurance claim take?
According to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, insurance companies have 15 business days to respond to your claim, stating whether your claim is being accepted. If there are extenuating circumstances or complications, your insurance company may request an additional extension. Regardless, most straightforward insurance claims shouldn’t take too long.
In the case that you don’t hear back from your insurance company, however, it’s a good idea to give them a call anyway. Remember to ask about the status of your claim and whether they need any additional information from you.
Keep in mind that the time frame for a personal injury lawsuit that goes to court is quite different, however, and may have a longer timeline.
Answer to common questions
Here are some more answers to common questions.
How long does a car accident settlement take?
The full process could take anywhere from a few weeks to many months. The exact timeline depends on a variety of factors – including your insurance company and the negotiation process.
How much can someone sue for a car accident?
Although you could legally sue for hundreds of thousands of dollars, in reality, most personal injury cases depend heavily on the other party’s insurance coverage. Since most people involved in a car accident are unlikely to be able to pay a million-dollar lawsuit, it is crucial to seek guidane from an auto accident lawyer most of your compensation is likely to come out of their auto insurance. .
How much does car insurance go up after an accident?
Most insurance companies do raise your insurance rate after an auto accident. The exact increase varies depending on your insurance provider. According to Forbes, the average rate increase after an accident is about “41% for drivers with a clean record”.
How long after a car accident can you claim injury?
Timeframes for filing a claim vary by state law. For example, in Pennsylvania, you typically have about two years to file a claim after the car accident in which you sustained injuries. The time frame allowed may be a lot shorter, however, if the other party is a government entity.
Cochran Firm Philadelphia
Always reach out to a legal expert if you find yourself involved in an auto accident. Whether you have a full-tort or a limited-tort insurance policy, a lawyer can increase your chances of getting the most financial compensation possible.
The Cochran Firm Philadelphia office has years of experience and a team of highly qualified lawyers at your disposal. Simply give us a call or visit our website to set up an appointment for a FREE consultation.
Not only that, but our law firm is affordable to those that otherwise may not be able to hire legal counsel. We typically handle our civil cases on a contingency fee basis – which means no up-front charges. Our fees come out of the final financial recovery. In the case that we are unable to recover financial compensation, we do not charge fees. This ensures that we are able to provide legal assistance to as much of our community as possible.
So do not wait, reach out to a lawyer here at the Cochran Firm Philadelphia office as soon as possible.