How long do I have to inform my insurance company that I was in a car accident?


Ideally, you should contact your insurance provider within 24 hours of the accident. Your insurance policy may stipulate that you only have a very specific amount of time to report an accident, but it may also use a vague term such as “within a reasonable time.” It is therefore best not to wait too long to contact your provider. Not only so you don’t get denied due to an arbitrary deadline, but also so you can get the often lengthy claims process underway.

In a car accident, the accident is just the beginning of your problems. Navigating an insurance claim alone can be tricky, especially if the fault of the accident is disputed. In addition, insurance companies may try and settle your claim for less than it is actually worth. Hiring an attorney after an accident puts someone in your corner who knows your state’s laws and the tricks insurance companies may try and play.

An attorney will focus on your case by gathering evidence, consulting with experts, and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf, so you can focus on getting your life back on track. If it is necessary, an attorney might even take your case all the way to trial to get the compensation you truly deserve.

If you are in need of an experienced car accident attorney who will fight for you, our attorneys at Morgan & Morgan may be able to help. Fill out our free, no obligation case evaluation to find out more.

Ideally, you should contact your insurance provider within 24 hours of the accident. Your insurance policy may stipulate that you only have a very specific amount of time to report an accident, but it may also use a vague term such as “within a reasonable time.” It is therefore best not to wait too long to contact your provider. Not only so you don’t get denied due to an arbitrary deadline, but also so you can get the often lengthy claims process underway.

In “fault” states, the insurance company of the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for the injuries and damage that were sustained during the accident. In states that do not have no-fault insurance, it is imperative to never admit fault at the scene of the accident or on the phone later with an insurance representative. There is a process for determining fault, and it is best not to prematurely take responsibility for the accident. Allow the process for determining fault to play out through official channels, because even though you may think you were at fault for the accident at the time it occurred, investigation of the facts may reveal something different later on.
In no-fault states, policyholders are covered by their own insurance, regardless of who caused the accident. Known as personal insurance protection, PIP covers drivers regardless of if they were at fault for the accident. With PIP, your insurance company should cover compensation for lost wages and medical care. But the buck stops there. You can’t pursue further damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering. However, if your claim meets a minimum dollar threshold due to severe injuries or sky-high medical bills, you may be able to depart from the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This threshold varies by state. Morgan & Morgan attorneys will help you recover the full compensation to which you are entitled, including pain and suffering.
Motorcycle accidents are similar, but there are differences. You will want to follow most of the same recommended steps for what to do after a car accident. However, following a motorcycle accident, filing a claim with the insurance company may be different. This is especially true in “no-fault” states. While Personal Insurance Protection (PIP) insurance is required in some states for cars and trucks, motorcycles are often excluded. This can mean filing a claim with the insurance company is much different in a motorcycle accident than a car accident. It may be worth consulting with an experienced attorney in your state to find out exactly what the state laws are.
Unlike a car accident, where drivers deal with their own or one another's insurance company, commercial truck accident claims are rarely made against the driver of the truck. Most claims are brought against the trucking company, for whom the driver works, which can make recouping compensation more difficult for you. Trucking companies are large-scale defendants who can make it more difficult to recover compensation. While minor accidents with other car drivers can be dealt with fairly simply — even if they do have their share of difficulties — truck accidents have more money at stake, often involve a company, and must consider Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations.
It is never a good idea to drive without insurance. If you get into an accident that is your fault, you will likely face criminal and administrative fines, in addition to whatever costs associated with accidents for which you are deemed responsible. The extent to which you are on the hook differs depending on the state. In a “no-fault” state the other driver will, at least in theory, have his or her bills that result from the crash covered by their own insurance company, but only up to a certain amount. If costs exceed the amount the other driver’s policy covers, they may try and sue you. If you lose, you will responsible to pay the costs out of your own pocket. In “fault” states, it is likely the other driver will sue you for costs associated with the crash. Some insurance policies have an uninsured motorist claim, which covers the cost of an accident when a driver gets into an accident with a motorist who doesn’t have insurance. However, once the insurance company resolves the claim, it may try and sue you to recoup the costs.
It depends on where you live. If you live in a state with “no-fault” insurance, your insurance company covers your bills - to a point. If your medical bills exceed the amount your policy covers, your injuries may be considered "serious" or "significant" and you can pursue compensation outside the no-fault system through a lawsuit. In such a case, the other driver may have to pay you out of his or her own pocket, if you take them to court and win the case. On the other hand, if you live in a state with “fault” insurance, things are more complicated. Since the other driver has no insurance for you to pursue compensation from, you can try and recover compensation directly from them in a lawsuit. However, if the other driver has few personal assets he or she may not be able to pay you what the court orders. Instead, some insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage, allowing you to make a claim when the at-fault driver is uninsured.
The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be hectic. It is important to stay calm and remember to collect the information of the other driver involved in the accident, otherwise you may not be able to hold him or her accountable if they are at fault. It is recommended that drivers collect the following information at the accident scene: * Name * Address * Phone number * Insurance company * Policy number * Driver’s license number * License plate number In some cases the driver with which you were involved in an accident is not the vehicle’s owner. In that case, be sure to find out to whom the vehicle is registered, and clarify the relationship between the driver and owner before you get the name and address for both individuals.

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