Mistakes To Avoid With Your Car Insurance Claims
Car accidents can happen suddenly. Even when minor, they can feel chaotic, leaving drivers and passengers alike confused about what steps to take. Knowing which actions are essential and what to avoid doing can help protect your rights and even make a difference in your ability to recover compensation for your damages from the at-fault party’s insurer. While the experience of surviving a vehicle collision may feel overwhelming, the tense and frustrating moments in the immediate aftermath can be among the most crucial in preparing for an efficient insurance claim process. Avoiding a few common mistakes can help to smooth the car insurance claims process for accident victims. Schedule a consultation with a car accident lawyer at Stufano Law by calling (914) 752-7746 today.
Failing To Seek Medical Care
Seeking medical care after a car crash is vital, even for individuals who feel no pain or discomfort in the immediate aftermath. The sudden jolt and surprise of an impact can cause an adrenaline rush that may initially mask the pain from injuries. Symptoms can take a few hours to days to present themselves for some injuries, such as brain or internal organ damage. A delay in seeking medical attention can allow injuries to worsen and make effective treatment more difficult. Further, neglecting to seek medical care or putting the treatment off could affect an accident victim’s claim for damages. An insurance company could assert that the injuries are less severe than they are, or that they did not happen in the car accident. Seeking medical evaluation immediately after a vehicle collision helps to ensure both timely treatment of injuries and documentation in case it is later needed.
Neglecting To Report the Accident to the Authorities
Sometimes, after crashes that cause little or no apparent damage or injuries, parties think reporting an accident to the authorities is unnecessary. However, there are many reasons to call the police after every accident, including ensuring compliance with state laws. According to the State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), motorists must report auto collisions when either driver sustains $1,000 or more in damages.
Some other reasons to notify the police department while at the scene of the accidents include the following:
- Documentation of damages may be critical in receiving payment for car insurance claims.
- The police will typically complete an investigation, potentially including witness statements and evidence collected at the scene, and file an accident report establishing fault and documenting the cause of the accident.
- Failing to report leaves each party vulnerable to false claims by the other regarding the accident’s cause or the damages sustained.
In other words: While reporting an accident to the authorities is only legally required under certain circumstances, it is almost always a good idea.
Giving Recorded Statements to Insurance Providers Without Preparing
Insurance agencies often require people to give recorded statements about the details of an accident to complete the car insurance claims process and provide the appropriate payout. They generally advise the individual that they will ask a series of questions and record the statements before beginning. There are many factors to consider before providing the statement, including:
- Insurance adjusters often word their questions in a way that could cause the party to understate the severity of bodily harm or property damages.
- Many people mistakenly make contradictory statements when they are unprepared to begin the process.
- Some people mistakenly admit full or partial fault or say things the insurance company could use to deny liability.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney at Stufano Law could help navigate the car insurance claims process and handle communications on the motorist’s behalf to protect their best interests.
Accepting a Low Settlement Amount
Insurance agencies seek to settle claims quickly and minimize their losses. They will often make a settlement offer immediately after reviewing the case, and many accident victims are unprepared and accept a payout too low to cover their damages. In many cases it may be wise to take a few moments to research the costs of repairs or medical bills in order to be able to assess whether the insurance company’s offer is lower than the projected total. In most cases, you should speak with an attorney before accepting a settlement.
Not Collecting Evidence of Damages
Gathering evidence to document the specifics of the crash can be helpful in establishing the total amount of damages and determining fault in order to secure a fair settlement amount. Examples of personal, rather than property, damages typically considered severe include:
- Injuries that cause a disability for 90 days or more
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent organ damage
- Significant impairment of bodily functions or mobility problems
- Broken bones or traumatic amputations
- Loss of an unborn child
- Wrongful death
Neglecting To Follow the Car Insurance Claims Process in New York
There are two potential processes for recovering damages from the at-fault driver for pain and suffering after sustaining severe injuries in a car accident. The injured party may file a third-party auto insurance claim with the liable party’s insurance agency, or they may file a lawsuit in civil court. The value of the claim, in either process, depends on various factors, including how severe the injuries are and the impact they will continue to have on the individual’s life in the future.
Misunderstanding the Steps for No-Fault Car Insurance Claims
There is a specific process to file a no-fault insurance claim after a car crash in New York, and an error could cause delays or result in a denial from the insurer. The steps to file the claim include:
- Completing the no-fault application and submit it to the insurance agency within 30 days of the traffic incident
- Sending notification to the New York State Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation
Once an accident victim completes the steps, the insurer will initiate the process and assess damages to determine the settlement amount.
Meet With a Car Accident Attorney Today
Car crashes are inconvenient, but they can happen anywhere and at any time, leaving accident survivors with painful injuries and property damage. One of the most effective ways to protect your interests and collect a fair payout from the insurance company is to understand the claims process and know which mistakes to avoid. One tiny error that may seem insignificant to a claimant could mean receiving a denial of coverage from insurers, or taking a settlement amount too low to cover your damages. Call a personal injury lawyer with Stufano Law at (914) 752-7746 to seek assistance with the car insurance claims process.