After a car accident, you can expect to deal with insurance companies, auto repair shops, and healthcare providers. Your decision with each party ultimately affects whether you put your life back together.
In a car accident, make sure you get the other person’s information. If you’re not injured, take a few photos. Make sure you explain what happened to the investigator. If the accident happened on a Wyoming Highway, then Highway Patrol should make a report. If you can, remember the name of the trooper.
Afterward, you should make a few notes while the accident is fresh in your mind. Write down what you remember about the collision. If you’re getting medical care, make notes of your treatment. If you can document how the accident affected you, you’ll be able to be compensated for your injuries.
Everyone says to be careful with social media. Here is an example of what not to do. I have a friend with a sarcastic sense of humor. He was hit by a driver on her cell phone. He snapped a photo of his totaled vehicle and posted to Facebook: “I’m fine, really #nbd.” If you knew him, he was making a joke. He was on his way to the hospital. But the insurance company would use that against him.
If you have been in a motorcycle accident, read what to do about a motorcycle accident.
What should you do about filing an insurance claim?
Make sure you notify your own carrier. Get the other driver’s information. Assuming they’re at fault and have insurance, you should send your bills to their carrier. Send your medical bills to their carrier, even if you have your own health insurance. Now, there are some exceptions on how you want to play this. So I would consult with an attorney.
Check out our article on whether you need an attorney to help with the insurance company.
Should you attempt to negotiate with an insurance company?
Here’s the short answer: If the other driver is at fault, you *should* be able to get their insurance company to write you a check.
However, it will likely be a small check and will not fully compensate you for your injuries. That’s not my crystal ball, that’s my experience. Every single time someone has come to me with an offer from an insurance company, I’ve been able to substantially increase it. I’ve turned hundreds of dollars into thousands of dollars, and thousands of dollars into more than one hundred thousand dollars.
If you have any medical bills or need for ongoing care, you need to get an attorney involved. Yes, you will end up paying your attorney a percentage fee, usually one-third, but sometimes 40 percent. It’s worth it. Your attorney should increase the value of your settlement/amount of money you receive by more than their percentage. You should walk away with more money because of your attorney. If I can’t do that for you, I won’t take a fee. Period.
What about a property damage only situation? Let’s say someone hit you and totaled your vehicle, but you’re fine. First, you should have a medical provider check you out and confirm that you’re fine. Assuming, you’re in good shape, you may only have $5000 in damage to your vehicle. In that situation, if you’re getting jerked around by an insurance company, an attorney can probably help. You won’t get a big payday, but you should.