There will be many steps you need to take after a car accident, one of which is beginning the process of filing a claim. It can take between nine and 18 months to get through an insurance claim, so the sooner you start, the better. However, you might wonder about filing a car accident claim in Fort Lauderdale. When engaging in this complex endeavor, your best option is to work with an experienced lawyer who can help.
Attorney David I. Fuchs has decades of experience helping victims like you. He knows how to communicate with insurance companies and expedite the car insurance claims process.
Immediate Aftermath of a Car Crash
After a car crash, there are some steps you should immediately take before you file a claim. Those include:
- Call 911 and request an ambulance, if necessary
- Get emergency medical attention
- Document the scene of the collision with photos and videos
- Get insurance and contact information from other drivers
- Get contact information from eyewitnesses
- Ask the responding officer for the police report number
- Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible
All these steps will help a Fort Lauderdale lawyer like David Fuchs establish the validity of your car wreck claim and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Report Your Accident to Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company will want you to report the crash within 24 hours. If you are seriously injured and unable to make the report, you may have additional time. But remember, if you do not meet this internal timeline, you may not get the coverage you need from your own policy.
Get Medical Treatment Within 14 Days
State law requires all drivers to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to help pay for medical bills. However, you must get medical treatment within 14 days after a crash to be eligible for those funds. If you do not meet that deadline, you may not get PIP coverage for your injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit
When filing a car accident claim, you should remember that many people have to file a personal injury lawsuit to get the full amount of compensation they deserve. You have a four-year deadline in Florida, called a “statute of limitations,” to file a lawsuit. If you do not meet this deadline, you may forfeit your ability to get the money you need to cover your losses.
Filing the Initial Claim
To file a claim with any insurance company, your attorney will begin by reaching out to their claims department. They may print a form and complete it, file a claim over the phone, or utilize an online form. Your attorney will use the option that will reduce time.
The insurance company will then contact your attorney and ask for additional information. The insurance company will want information about your medical costs, property damage, and other losses. You can help your lawyer by keeping track of all of your costs and updating them frequently.
When it’s time to make a claim for a car accident, you should gather all your documents and talk to an attorney. Your attorney can guide you through the process or complete it for you.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Claim With the Insurance Company?
Technically, you do not need an attorney to file a claim with your insurance company. However, it will be in your best interest to consult with an attorney before attempting to do this. If you call the insurance company, they will ask you many questions and attempt to blame you. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible. Don’t fall into their trap. Talk to your attorney about what happened and develop a statement before you ever talk to anyone.
Review Your Coverage
Make sure you understand how much coverage you have before talking to an insurance adjuster or agent. They may make you a “lowball” settlement offer that is nowhere near your policy availability, which will not cover your losses.
You should have a good understanding of your policy limit before talking to the insurance company.
Gather the Necessary Documents
You should keep a file with your medical documents, proof of lost wages, property damage, and other evidence. You should have that information readily available when you prepare your claim. Your attorney will also need to review it before talking to the insurance company on your behalf.
The insurance company will not give you any money without proof of your losses.
File a Claim with Your Insurance Company
Since Florida is a no-fault car accident claim state, you will begin by filing a claim with your own insurance company through your PIP policy. This will cover a certain amount of medical bills, lost wages, and more. You can file a claim with your insurance company through their website or by calling the phone number on your insurance card.
You may also allow your personal injury attorney to handle this part of the process for you.
Make Repairs to Your Car
It can be frustrating to have a damaged car, especially if it is inoperable. However, it may be in your best interest to wait until you get a settlement to repair your vehicle.
Your car repair costs can be detailed in your attorney’s demand letter to the insurance company when you seek a settlement.
Wait for the Claim to Process
Waiting on the insurance claims process can get lengthy, sometimes up to a year, but negotiations and potential lawsuits can take time to finish. Don’t be dismayed if the process seems to drag.
Your attorney will do everything possible to expedite the claim while getting you the money you deserve.
Don’t Accept the First Offer From the Insurance Company
The insurance company will likely make an offer quickly after they learn about your initial damages. This offer is rarely the best one you will get. Inexperienced attorneys might encourage you to accept the first offer, but attorney David I. Fuchs will not. He is skilled at negotiation and will push the insurance company to consider all past and future damages before making a fair offer. Attorney Fuchs will demand a settlement that meets all of your needs.
What Should I Do if the Insurance Company Denies My Claim?
If the insurance company denies or delays your claim, attorney David I. Fuchs can help you force them to act in good faith. Sometimes insurance companies act in bad faith and don’t evaluate a claim the way they should. They need to be threatened with a personal injury lawsuit or reminded about their duties. Less experienced attorneys may be afraid to confront the powerful team from the insurance company. Attorney Fuchs will make sure your rights are protected, and the insurance company follows the law.
What if You Think the Insurance Company is Acting in “Bad Faith”?
In addition to lowball offers, some individuals may be denied payment for their damages altogether. Working with an attorney can help ensure that the insurance company fulfills its obligations and makes a good faith effort to resolve the claim.
Simply stated, when an insurance company acts in bad faith, that means that it has wrongfully denied an individual’s claim in a manner that is unreasonable. Insurers do this because, as noted above, they have an interest in not paying claims and saving as much money as possible. Insurers are also aware that many individuals will not dispute their denial which, again, keeps millions of dollars in company coffers.
It is also important for individuals to understand what type of conduct can be deemed to be bad faith conduct. First of all, insurance companies are required to investigate all claims. If they fail to do so in a prompt and thorough manner, that may be considered bad faith conduct. Along those same lines, insurers may be acting in bad faith if they cause unreasonable delays in paying policyholders or refuse to reimburse or settle with harmed individuals for their losses.
Some insurers may also unreasonably interpret policy language to avoid paying a claim, which can be deemed as bad faith conduct. And a very common act of bad faith by insurance companies occurs when they try to settle a claim for an extremely low price (known as lowballing).
Things to Remember in the Insurance Claims Process
The insurance claims process is complex, so keep these essential points in mind:
- Wait to get your car fixed until you get a settlement.
- Work with an attorney to ensure you don’t miss any critical deadlines.
- Get medical attention within 14 days of the crash.
- Notify your insurance company of the accident within 24 hours.
- File an insurance claim as soon as you’re able.
- After the crash, file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, or four years.
- Ensure that your insurer follows the contracted coverage you have paid for.
A knowledgeable attorney in Fort Lauderdale can help you keep track of every detail you need to remember when you begin filing your car collision claim.
Call an Attorney about Filing a Car Accident Claim in Fort Lauderdale
When you work with an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer, they will handle the tedious parts of the claims process for you. They will keep track of important deadlines and help you with your checklist. Don’t miss out on the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Reach out to our practice today to schedule a consultation and learn more about filing a car accident claim in Fort Lauderdale.