When you've been hurt in a car wreck, you may be faced with a bewildering array of options. You know you are insured, but what about the other guy? On top of that, you may be wondering if and when you should take legal action against the other party. Read for an overview of the insurance issue.
Seek medical care: The other side's insurance will be responsible for paying any and all related medical expenses, so do not neglect to see a doctor and get evaluated. If you end up filing suit against the other party, your medical expense total will form the basis for the pain and suffering damages.
Make contact: Unless you were at fault for the accident or no one else was involved, you won't be dealing with your own insurance agency. They may want to know about the accident, but a quick phone call to them is usually all that is required. The driver who caused your accident probably was insured, but if not there are other remedies outside of insurance. For example, if they own property or have a job, you can still get compensation from them. In any case, speak to the at-fault driver about the situation and follow up with their insurance company if necessary.
Use caution: The other guy's insurance carrier will open a claim and perform a brief investigation into the facts of the case. You may be asked to provide some information about the accident, but be very careful about what you say to the other side's insurance adjuster. It's okay to provide some basic information, such as contact information, but avoid speaking about the way the accident happened. They may be able to use what you say to reduce their own client's liability for the accident.
A settlement offer: At some point, often fairly quickly, you may be offered a settlement from the insurance company. You can rest assured that this offer means that their investigation confirmed that you were not at fault and that their client was, but sometimes the fault can be divided among both parties. If the fault is divided, it will lessen your compensation considerably, regardless of how high your damages may be.
Your next step: If you are happy with the settlement offer and it covers all of your needs, accept it. You should, however, speak to an attorney before you sign anything just to make sure that you are not leaving money on the table. For example, most insurance settlements won't say anything about your future medical expense, so if you have an injury that may need surgery or physical therapy in the future, you may need to re-think the settlement offer.
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