From fender benders to head-on collisions, an experienced personal injury attorney can provide the support and legal representation you need to navigate the aftermath of a car accident—including filing a car accident claim with your insurance company.
Not sure what goes into filing a car accident claim? You’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn our top tips for filing a claim.
Understanding Car Accident Claims
A car accident claim refers to a legal process in which an individual seeks financial compensation for injuries and damages caused by a car accident. While the specific components of a car accident claim can vary based on the jurisdiction and circumstances involved, here are some common elements.
- Determining Liability: Determining fault is a crucial step. This process involves gathering evidence to establish either negligence or fault. Liability can be attributed to one or multiple parties involved in the accident.
- Calculating Damages: A car accident claim seeks compensation for the damages incurred, which include things like medical expenses, emotional distress, and rehabilitative care. Gathering proper documentation is important to support the claim for damages.
- Negotiating With Insurance Companies: Communicating with insurance companies is a key component of a car accident claim. It involves notifying your insurance provider about the accident, providing necessary information, and cooperating with their investigation. If another driver caused the accident, you will need to communicate with their insurance company also.
- Proving Negligence: To succeed in a car accident claim, you must prove that the accident resulted due to the other driver’s negligence or recklessness. This could involve showing that the other driver violated traffic laws, was distracted, intoxicated, or failed to exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicle.
- Filing Promptly: You must file a claim within a certain amount of time after the accident takes place. The legal principle for this practice is known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is two years in Arizona and four years in Utah. It’s crucial to adhere to this principle to preserve your right to seek due compensation.
- Securing Legal Representation: Depending on the complexity of the claim and the severity of the damages, you may choose to hire a car accident attorney. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process, negotiate with insurance companies, help gather evidence, and represent your interests in settlement negotiations or court proceedings if necessary.
While this information serves as a general guide for handling car accident claims, it’s essential to consult an attorney who specializes in car accident claims to seek advice that’s tailored to your specific situation and jurisdiction.
Steps Required to File a Car Accident Claim
Here’s a step-by-step guide outlining how to file a car accident claim.
Report the accident to the police
Regardless of the severity of your car accident, you should report it to the police. If police officers respond to the scene, they will compile a police report outlining the details of the accident. If officers don’t respond, you can file an accident report through your local DMV.
Whether you obtain a copy of an official police report or submit an accident report of your own, your insurance company will use this information to file your accident claim, and your attorney will use it to prove your innocence and secure financial compensation on your behalf.
Notify your insurance company
Most insurance providers require policyholders to report any and all accidents to file a claim. This includes minor car accidents, major car accidents, and everything in between. If you don’t notify your insurance company, you can’t file a claim against the negligent driver.
Providing thorough evidence is key in determining fault in car accident cases and calculating damages. Evidence that your insurance and attorney need includes:
- Photos and videos of the aftermath
- Medical bills and other proof of medical treatment
- Police report or accident report
- Proof of lost wages
File a claim
Now it’s time to file a claim for your car crash. During this final step, the not-at-fault driver files a claim with their insurance company against the at-fault driver. If the at-fault driver has insurance coverage—which is required for all in-state drivers in both Arizona and Utah—their insurance company will cover the cost of your losses.
Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Car Accident
Communicating and negotiating with your insurance company after a car accident can be intimidating, especially if you have no prior experience. That’s why we’re here to help. If you want to avoid common pitfalls, follow these steps.
- Notify your insurance company about the accident
- Provide your agent with relevant information, including a copy of the police report or accident report, photos and videos of the damage, and the insurance information of the other driver
- Answer any questions the adjuster asks you when they call for more information
- Consult a skilled attorney to handle the negotiation process for you so you can focus on your recovery
Determining the Settlement Amount
To avoid litigation, both parties—with the help of their attorneys—can negotiate a settlement. This payment covers the cost of injuries and damages sustained in the accident. The amount of the settlement depends on a few factors.
- The severity of the accident
- The extent of the injuries and damages suffered
- Who is at-fault
The Negotiation Process
Each client will consult with their insurance company and attorney, and each attorney will calculate the total value of their client’s case. After presenting these values, the attorneys engage in a series of offers and counter-offers until an agreement is reached.
Many car accident victims need compensation quickly to cover outstanding medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, and more. As a result, many clients settle for an amount much lower than what they want—and deserve—to accelerate the process. Continuing negotiations and pursuing litigation take time—time that many car accident victims simply don’t have.
However, unless you’re desperate for a quick payout, we highly recommend waiting out the settlement process until your attorney reaches a satisfactory resolution. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
The Role of a Lawyer in Car Accident Claims
Here are a few scenarios in which consulting an attorney would be beneficial when filing a car accident claim.
- When multiple parties are involved
- When it’s unclear who is at-fault
- When the other driver files a claim, sues, or hires an attorney
- In cases of serious injury or wrongful death
At the end of the day, you want to cover all your bases. Even if you’re not at fault for a car accident, not having proper legal representation leaves you susceptible to the predations of your insurance company as well as the predations of the other driver’s insurance company or attorney.
Here are the primary services that a car accident claims lawyer will provide during the claims process.
- Advocates for your rights
- Gathers evidence to support your claim
- Conducts a thorough investigation
- Assesses the damages
- Negotiates with insurance companies and other attorneys
- Represents you in court, if necessary
- Pursues financial compensation for your losses
How Attorneys Help Ensure a Fair Settlement Is Reached
When it comes to paying for the cost of bodily injuries and property damage after a car accident, insurance companies want to pay the lowest amount possible. Either your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company may try to lowball you during the negotiation process.
That’s where a skilled personal injury attorney can step in to assist. They have the experience and resources required to litigate with insurance companies of all sizes, and they will advocate for your rights and pursue maximum financial compensation for your losses.
Understanding Arizona & Utah Car Accident Laws
There are three things you need to know about car accident laws in Arizona and Utah: comparative negligence, at-fault versus no-fault, and minimum liability coverage. Let’s break these concepts down a bit.
Comparative negligence determines how much fault each party involved in a car accident shares. It recognizes that multiple parties can contribute to the accident and assigns a percentage of fault to each party based on their level of negligence. The damages awarded in a case are reduced relative to the percentage of each party’s fault.
There are two types of comparative negligence laws: pure and modified.
- Pure Comparative Negligence: Arizona is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that the plaintiff can pursue compensation no matter what their degree of fault is.
- Modified Comparative Negligence: Utah is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning that the plaintiff can only seek compensation if their degree of fault is within a predetermined threshold. Utah’s threshold is 50%, meaning that if the plaintiff is 50% or more at fault for the accident, he or she cannot receive compensation for injuries and damages sustained.
At-Fault vs. No-Fault
Arizona is an at-fault state. This means that the driver who caused the accident must pay for the injuries and damages caused. If the at-fault driver has a minimum liability coverage policy, their insurance provider will cover these costs—that is if the injured party files a claim against them.
Utah is a no-fault state. This means that each driver’s insurance company must pay for their policyholder’s accident-related expenses, regardless of who caused the accident. As a result, the injured—or not-at-fault—driver has limited options for filing a claim against the at-fault driver.
Minimum Liability Coverage
Arizona and Utah law requires in-state drivers to hold an auto insurance policy with minimum liability coverage. This coverage provides financial protection to the at-fault driver in a car accident and ensures the injured party receives compensation to cover the cost of things like medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs.
Minimum liability coverage in Arizona must cover the following:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability for one person
- $50,000 bodily injury liability for two or more people
- $15,000 property damage liability
Minimum liability coverage in Utah must cover the following:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability for one person
- $65,000 bodily injury liability for two or more people
- $15,000 property damage liability
Trust Esquire Law With Your Auto Accident Claims
If you want to achieve justice and secure maximum financial compensation for your losses after a car accident, look no further than Esquire Law — your trusted personal injury firm. You can count on us to fight for your rights from start to finish, no matter what.
Take the first step towards justice today by requesting a free case evaluation. As Arizona and Utah’s leading car accident, motorcycle accident, and truck accident lawyer group, we’ve got you covered.