If you were in a car accident and suffered injuries or property damage, you might consider filing a legal claim against the other driver. There is no exact process to file a car accident claim, but certain steps should be taken to ensure a successful outcome.
When To File a Car Accident Claim
Car accidents can cause serious injuries and emotional trauma. You may be able to recover compensation for these if the other driver was responsible for your accident. This is especially true of the accident caused:
- Significant property damage
- Injuries to you or a loved one, especially if they resulted in:
- Permanent disability
- Loss of wages
- Medical costs
- The death of a loved one
- Emotional trauma, pain or suffering
Any accident claims should be filed in a timely manner. Experienced attorneys can advise you about the statute of limitations in your state for filing personal injury or wrongful death claims. Therefore, it is recommended that you speak with an attorney shortly after the crash to establish the proper steps to take.
Steps for Filing a Car Accident Claim
The actions you take in the hours, days and weeks after a car accident can define how your claim progresses. In general, the following steps help support a successful outcome.
Document the Accident
You want to document the accident with as much detail as possible. This includes exchanging information with every driver involved. You want to at least get a name, contact information, the name of their insurance provider and a policy number so you can follow up later on.
It is also a good idea to take photos of the accident scene and the vehicles involved. This will help show important details that may be overlooked at the time of your accident. Photos can also be used to support claims you make later on.
Seek Medical Care
Even if you don’t think you were injured in the accident, you should seek medical care. Shock after a crash can mask pain and cause you to feel fine when you may have a serious injury. Additionally, some accident injuries do not develop symptoms for several days. Conditions such as broken bones, spine injuries, and internal bleeding can occur even in seemingly minor car crashes.
File an Insurance Claim
Even minor accidents often result in damages that require an insurance claim. It is important to know who to contact about filing an insurance claim, which can depend on several factors. It may be your insurer or another driver’s, depending on where the crash occurred.
For example, in South Carolina, the at-fault driver is responsible for any damages resulting from an auto accident. That means if another driver caused the crash, you will file a claim through his insurance company. It also means that an accident victim can sell compensation from the at-fault party.
Consult an Attorney
It is also a good idea to speak with an accident attorney at this time, even if you do not plan to file a legal claim. Experienced car accident lawyers help with every part of the post-accident process, so they can help you with steps such as:
- Filing an insurance claim
- Investigating the accident
- Assigning a monetary value to your injuries
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Filing any claims within the state’s statute of limitations
Common Reasons for Accident Claims
Accident claims are filed to recover compensation for damages and injuries. They can help pay for medical expenses, property damages, and specialized future care. They are also a means of supplementing lost or reduced wages, immediately after the accident and going forward.
Injuries are very common in car crashes. They can range from minor scratches to life-altering internal damage. Some are apparent immediately at the crash scene, while others take days or weeks to develop. The rising cost of medical care means it is imperative to secure enough compensation to cover any future care that is needed.
Loss of Work
You may also be able to recover money to compensate for lost wages. The time you miss from work for medical care and your recovery are easily quantifiable. However, some injuries may reduce your ability to perform your current occupation, leading to a lower overall earning capacity. The difference should be included in any accident claim filed.
Death of a Loved One
Losing a loved one in a car accident is a traumatic process. Filing a wrongful death claim is one way to seek compensation for the loss.
Speak With an Experienced Accident Attorney
Filing a claim is sometimes necessary to recover damages after a car accident. If you or a loved one was hurt in a car accident, contact us at (803) 200-2000. Our experienced accident lawyers will perform a free, no-obligation case evaluation to lay out the process of filing your claim.