Getting in a car accident is a traumatic, stressful experience. What you do in the following minutes and hours are critical to preserving your health and wallet. It also ensures that you do everything you are legally required to do. We have outlined a 10 step process of a personal injury auto accident case in order for you to prepare.
10 Steps for the Personal Injury Claim Process
- Check for Injuries After an Accident
- Document Evidence for Your Personal Injury Case
- File a Claim with your Insurance Company
- Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Auto Accident Attorney for your Case
- Determine the Severity of Your Personal Injury
- Demand a Settlement
- Case Settles or a Lawsuit Is Filed
1. Check for Injuries After an Accident
Be sure to stop your vehicle in a safe place and do not leave the scene of the accident as this is a crime. Assess whether you or others are injured. Call 911 to get immediate medical help for anyone who is hurt. If there is injury, death, or property damage over $1,500, you must immediately call the police and file a report with the Department of Transportation within 10 days.
Due to shock, it might be hard to realize you have suffered a serious head, neck, back, or organ injury. Even if you can’t see an injury or think you only received minor cuts and scrapes, it is best to have a medical professional evaluate you. Follow any treatment plan provided by a medical professional.
Many people don’t call the police after an accident because their vehicle only suffered minor damage or they thought they weren’t injured at the scene. But often property damage and/or injuries arise later. If you did not document the accident through a police report, it may be difficult to get compensation for your damages later on.
2. Document Evidence for Your Personal Injury Case
If you are able, take photos of the:
- license plates
- nearby traffic controls
- any visible injuries
Write down the:
- driver’s name
- phone number
- license plate number
- the vehicle owner’s name
Collect the names and contact information from any witnesses. Limit conversation with other parties and do not admit fault or assign blame. For your own memory, document as many details as possible as soon as you can. If you do not, you might forget something that could be critical later on if you have to go to court.
3. File a Claim with your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies require you to report the accident very soon after the crash.
Your insurance company might ask you to provide a statement–don’t. Keep in mind that YOU pay your insurance company. They technically work for you, and you don’t owe them anything.
Let Your Lawyer Help You With The Personal Injury Claim Process, Not Your Insurance Company
Wait until you’ve consulted with a personal injury attorney before you say anything. At Curcio Law Offices, we provide FREE initial consultations. So, it costs nothing to double check, but this could save you thousands, down the road.
Even though your insurance company is supposed to be on your side, they might try to diminish your accident and injuries to avoid paying for your damages.
Your insurance company is best equipped to help you get your vehicle fixed or pay for a total loss. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, your insurance company can help you get back on the road, as long as you have collision coverage under your policy. After that, your insurance company will seek reimbursement from the insurance company of the driver at fault.
4. Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Auto Accident Attorney for your Case
Sometimes after an accident, the insurance company of the driver at fault will contact you. They might ask you for a written or recorded statement. It is not in your best interest to do so. Sometimes, the insurance company of the at-fault driver might offer a small amount of money and ask you to sign a release. Don’t fall for this, either.
As experienced Chicago personal injury attorneys at Curcio Law Offices, we often advise clients not to do this. Your injuries might last longer than you thought they would and once you sign a release, you cannot reopen your claim. Do not accept quick cash or sign any documents without legal counsel.
The attorneys at Curcio Law offices have a long tradition of representing anyone that has suffered a personal injury. Hiring a Chicago car accident attorney for your case will help ensure your insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you during the personal injury claim process. Our attorneys can help you manage the numerous calls you receive from the insurance adjusters and fight against low settlement offers by the insurance company.
Scheduling a consultation with one of our attorneys after your personal injury from an auto accident is free. We are only paid for our legal services if we help you recover money.
5. Determine the Severity of Your Personal Injury
From this portion of the personal injury claim process, the legal team essentially takes over. Our personal injury attorneys at Curcio Law Offices will conduct further investigation into the accident. We will follow up with you on a regular basis regarding your medical treatment. And, we order your medical bills and records, as you continue treatment.
However, your pain or injury might not go away. In this case, we will contact your doctor and get a report to submit along with the treatment records. Sometimes this step in the process can be the longest because it depends on how you are feeling. It is best to have a clear understanding of your condition before even considering an offer from the insurance company to settle the case.
6. Demand a Settlement
Once your injuries have stabilized, we usually make a demand for settlement to the insurance company on your behalf.
A settlement is an amount of money an insurance provider offers to resolve a dispute with you, the accident victim.
The insurance company will make the first offer. This offer is normally extremely low, an almost laughable amount, to see if you will take the bait.
Most victims don’t understand how quickly medical bills can pile up, so most insurance companies try to make the offer quickly, before they have the opportunity to “lawyer-up”.
7. Case Settles or a Lawsuit Is Filed
Once we receive a settlement offer from the insurance adjuster, you will decide whether you want to settle your case or file a lawsuit. Many clients are afraid of going to trial and say they would prefer to settle. Insurance companies know this and offer low settlement amounts.
During this part of the personal injury claim process, your attorney will provide guidance on whether the offer from the insurance company is fair and whether it makes sense to continue with a lawsuit.
There are pros and cons to both settling and filing a lawsuit. The experienced personal injury auto accident attorneys at Curcio law offices will be able to advise you on which option will be best for you.
If you decide not to accept the settlement and file a lawsuit, the case goes into discovery period.
Discovery means that your personal injury attorney at Curcio Law Offices will find out more information about the other side.
The other side also gets to find out more about you.
Both sides can request documents, pictures, and depositions.
A personal injury deposition is the chance for an attorney to ask questions of the parties involved including police officers, witnesses, treating doctors, or anyone else who might provide evidence in the case of the trial.
After this process is complete, the court usually orders mediation prior to the start of a trial.
Mediation is the last informal alternative to a trial for the personal injury claim process. A neutral, third party mediator facilitates a discussion between both sides to promote a resolution of the disputes before a trial. The mediator leads the discussion, but has no power to make decisions regarding the case. At a trial, the judge has power and influence over the outcome of the case.
If a mediation is unsuccessful, the case will go to trial. In busy counties, trials might take a year to start after filing. The injured person must prove that the other driver was negligent in a trial. The injured party must also show how much money the jury should award in damages. The jury will then be asked if you were negligent and if your negligence caused your own injuries. After everyone testifies, the jury decides on a verdict.
Illinois is an “at-fault” insurance state. This means that after an auto accident, the driver who is found to be at fault is liable for damages to the other party. If multiple parties are at fault for the accident, then the liability is divided between them according to their share of the blame.
Let Curcio Law Offices Handle the Personal Injury Claim Process For You
If you suffered a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence in an auto accident, you are in good hands with the attorneys at Curcio Law Offices. Our results speak for themselves. If you have a case you would like to speak to a personal injury lawyer about, contact us to schedule a free consultation.