Personal Injury Claim Handling
Typically, your immediate concern is the handling of your vehicle if it was damaged in the accident. We sometimes take for granted the fact that we rely on our vehicle for day-to-day transportation to and from work and for our daily errands. Your vehicle may have been totaled (not economically viable to repair) or damaged. If your car is totaled, be sure to have an idea of what it would cost you to replace the vehicle which you can discover via an internet search. In addition, you want to be familiar with the BLUE BOOK value of your vehicle.
The insurance company’s obligation is to reimburse you for the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of the vehicle. If you recently replaced or repaired any parts, be sure to have a copy of that receipt available. Similarly, if you had any aftermarket stereo or electronic equipment added, be sure to have the receipts for same. If your car is repairable, depending upon the year and make of your vehicle, you may have what is commonly referred to as a DIMINISHED VALUE CLAIM.
Typically, the at-fault party’s insurer will put you in a RENTAL VEHICLE. However, if the at-fault driver does not contact his/her insurer, the insurer will want to see the police report to confirm liability. It can take a few weeks for the insurance company to obtain the police report, so you will want to get it and provide it if you want to expedite the process. In addition, many first party insurers offer rental reimbursement under your policy. If you do not get a rental vehicle or are without a vehicle for a number of days, you are entitled to assert a LOSS OF USE claim.
You need to understand the nature and extent of your injuries as well as your overall recovery progress. It is often difficult for an insurance company to evaluate a claim where there is no concrete diagnosis. That said, we understand that when it comes to your health, there is not always a simple diagnosis. Insurance companies tend to minimize passive modalities and question prolonged treatment plans that do not yield results. As such, it is important to be actively involved in your treatment plan (ask questions and let your providers know when you are not getting the expected results from their treatment). In many circumstances, diagnostic studies (x-rays and MRIs) are the best evidence of your injuries. Be sure to follow through with all treatment recommendations and do not miss appointments if it can be avoided.
With respect to pre-existing conditions, you should look at your pre-existing condition as resolved, ongoing or unrelated. If the condition was resolved, the insurance company may want to see evidence of the fact that you were discharged from care for the injury prior to the subject incident. If treatment for the condition was ongoing, then likely the subject accident is a contributing factor making your condition worse or delaying your recovery. Finally, insurance companies will receive what is commonly referred to as a “CLAIMS INDEX BUREAU REPORT” which will identify your prior insurance claims and claimed injuries.
Unfortunately, there is no provision in tort law to reimburse you for wage loss as it is incurred. In addition, it is important that the hours you miss due to injuries sustained in the accident be documented and further that the time missed is supported by a doctor’s disability slip. Issues arise for those that are self-employed and, as such, documentation may be more complicated.
If you have questions about your injury claim, call us at 719-470-1441.