After A Car Accident, You Need To Know How Insurance Companies Work
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, dealing with insurance companies can be a very stressful experience. Read on to find out more about the insurance claims process and how you can make it work for you.
When to File a Claim
Deciding whether to file a claim after an accident depends on who was at fault for the crash and what type of insurance you have. Here are some guidelines:
Your Car Is Damaged —
- It’s the other driver’s fault — If the damage to your car was clearly caused by another driver, file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
- It’s your fault — If you caused the accident and damage to your car, file a claim with your own insurance company, if you have collision coverage.
- Unsure who’s at fault — If fault is not clear, file a claim with both your insurance company and the other driver’s company.
- The other driver is uninsured — If the other driver caused the accident but is uninsured, your own insurance company will cover your losses under the uninsured motorist coverage provisions of your policy.
You Are Injured —
- It’s the other driver’s fault — If you were injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Also,
- Medical Bills — if you have medical expenses (MedPay) coverage on your auto insurance policy, you will want to file a claim with your insurance company for payment of your medical bills. This will help cover some of your expenses while you are waiting for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to start paying.
Most large, national insurance companies (like the ones with all the television ads) are really giant bureaucracies. In these companies, every decision has to be documented and approved up the chain of command. Here is an overview of the insurance company hierarchy and claims handling process:
The Home Office
This is the “Ivory Tower.” This is where corporate leaders set company-wide policy and oversee all the insurance company’s activities, like investments, underwriting, marketing, and claims.
The Regional Office
This office might oversee all of the insurance offices in a particular state. Or, it may even manage the offices in a couple of different states. Regional managers are responsible for supervising local claims offices in that region. Regional managers deal with coverage issues, claims that go over the amount the insurance company has budgeted for a particular claim (reserves), policy limits, and other complex issues.
The Local Claims Office
The local claims office is home to the claims manager, claims supervisors, and claims adjusters. These offices handle the company’s small to medium-sized claims and protect the insurance company’s bottom line.
Claims Adjusters — Adjusters report claims to Claims Supervisors; typical caseload 150-200 claims.
Claims Supervisor — Supervisors assign claims to adjusters for investigation and day-to-day handling Supervisors also set reserves, which is the estimated cost of the claim to the insurance company. It is the amount the company sets aside (or reserves) to pay the claim.
How Long Can I Wait to Call a Lawyer?
When you’re injured in an auto accident in Virginia or West Virginia, you must be aware of the statute of limitations which applies in your particular case. The statute of limitations refers to the time you have following an accident to file a lawsuit. In both Virginia and West Virginia, this time limit depends upon the circumstances of your accident and injury. The time limitation starts to run on the date of the accident. Filing a claim with an insurance company does not extend or delay the time.
The longer you wait to contact an attorney, the greater the risk that the statute of limitations time limit will expire. If it does, you may lose your right to sue the at-fault party and recover compensation for your injuries. If you’ve been seriously injured and someone else is at fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney at the earliest possible time. Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer early in your case will help prevent deadlines from expiring and will allow your case to be properly prepared.
To be able to determine whether you have a case, your lawyer needs to thoroughly investigate the details about your accident and injuries. Investigating the accident and collecting information is much easier if it occurs quickly after the accident has happened. A time delay can result in many problems like lost evidence and witnesses who can’t be found.
When you hire a lawyer to handle your car accident claim, he or she will first negotiate with the insurance company to try to settle your claim. If settlement negotiations break down, your attorney will prepare to file a lawsuit and prepare your case for trial. For this reason, it is especially important that you get an experienced lawyer to help with your case, such as one certified through the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
Talk With A Virginia And West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a car accident in Virginia or West Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help. The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.
Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Winchester, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, and Staunton, and also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.