Insurance companies are tricky beasts, so it is no wonder that people are afraid to deal with them directly. From the outset, you should know that the insurance company is out to protect their profits. They will find any and all loopholes to avoid paying out for your accident.
Step One: Calling Your Insurance Company After an Accident
You should contact your own insurance company even if you weren't at fault. You want to put them on notice of a claim because you may have some benefits from them for medical payments. They can also help by getting your car fixed a lot faster, even if you have to pay a deductible. Many people are reluctant to call their own insurance company, but in most cases, they need to get involved. If the accident wasn't your fault, it is unlikely your rates will be affected.
There is also the possibility that the other driver doesn't have insurance coverage. If that is the case, you will be filing against your Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM). This is an essential policy in Virginia because our drivers are not required to have insurance. It is totally legal to register a car that is uninsured in Virginia, provided that you pay a fee to the DMV. Because of this, drivers should have sufficient UIM coverage in case the are hurt by an uninsured driver.
Step Two: Calling The Other Driver's Insurance Company
The next thing you should do is put the other person's insurance company on notice of a claim too if you know who that is. You probably don't want to give a recorded statement just yet. We highly recommend you either talk to an attorney, a board certified, personal injury attorney, or just download some of the free material we have at our website.
The other person's insurance company will probably be eager to settle the case for the lowest amount as quickly as they can. However, if you are still getting medical treatment, you should avoid talking about settlements. You will need to know the total cost of your medical bills as a result of the accident before you can settle. Additionally, you will want to contact your own insurance company about subrogation.
Step Three: Finishing Your Medical Treatment
Next, once you have gathered all of the facts and medical records, and after your medical treatment has ended, your attorney will develop a settlement strategy with you and attempt to get your case settled with the insurance adjuster. Do not wait until the statute of limitations has almost expired to file a suit. Sometimes attorneys will do this and then din out that the defendant they sued is either not the correct defendant or is now blaming someone else.
Once the lawsuit is filed, both sides engage in the legal process called discovery. Each party is allowed to investigate what it is the other side is going to say at the trial. The defendant will be allowed to access your medical records and work history, including your income records. You may be required to submit a medical examination by a physician of the defendant’s choosing.
If the case does not settle before trial, a jury will hear your case. Each side will typically present both written and documentary evidence. The trial generally takes place within one year of filing suit.