Immediately following an accident, insurance companies will begin the process of investigating any claims that are filed with their company. The claims process determines exactly who was at fault, what type of settlement the victim deserves, and which parties are responsible for paying the compensation.
The Initial Filing
Every driver has an obligation to notify their insurance provider of an accident as quickly as possible. During the initial phone call, a claims adjuster will try to collect as much information as possible including your own version of what took place. While it might be tempting to give them everything they ask for, that could hurt you in the long run. Without a lawyer by your side, anything you say to the adjuster could negatively impact your case. Once you have given the adjuster all of the basic information, you should then inform them that they must direct all questions to your lawyer. Depending on your insurance policy, you most likely only need to give them your name, your policy number, the date of the accident, the location of the accident, and a quick overview of what took place.
Collecting Additional Information
The extent of the investigation is generally determined by the severity of the accident. Collisions that result in multiple injuries or a fatality often have multiple adjusters assigned to them. These individuals will track down any data they can including medical records, police reports, photos of the scene, images of the cars involved, and first-hand accounts from any witnesses. Once they have collected a good deal of information, the adjusters then try to piece together what has taken place from an unbiased point-of-view. While first-hand accounts are useful, witnesses and drivers often give contradictory statements. The adjusters must collect hard data in order to come up with an accurate analysis.
In most areas, a driver does not need to be 100 percent at fault or completely innocent. Collisions are often very complex, and there could be dozens of different factors that led to the incident. This includes the mental well-being of each driver, the state of their vehicles, distractions from passengers, distractions from other vehicles, or even the state of the road. If a driver is found to be 30 percent at fault for an accident, then they might be responsible for 30 percent of the settlement.
Working With an Experienced Accident Attorney
Accidents involving injuries or deaths should never be taken lightly. Even if you believe you are completely innocent and the case is clear, you should still speak with a lawyer to protect your finances and your record. These professionals can help you put together a case, collect compensation, and move on with your life.