By definition, car accidents are unintended. Nevertheless, studies show that American drivers can expect to be involved in some sort of collision about once every 10 years. If you have experienced an accident recently, an auto accident attorney in Casper, Wyoming, Cody, Wyoming, or Cheyenne, Wyoming can help you manage the fallout from the incident. One of the most commonly asked questions is, “when should I contact my insurance company?”
How Soon Do You Need to Report an Auto Accident to Your Insurance?
The best approach is to contact your insurance company as soon as you are able. Wyoming is an at-fault state, meaning that the driver responsible for the crash is legally liable for paying all parties’ damages.
According to the at-fault laws, you might ultimately receive compensation from the other driver’s policy. However, officially determining fault can require an investigation and some time. Whether you or the other driver is liable, it is important to notify your insurance company immediately after the accident occurs.
Why Should You Contact Your Insurance Company Right Away?
Your Policy Might Require Fast Notification
Insurance policies vary from company to company on how much time they give the policyholder to report an accident. Many policies specify that accidents must be reported within 30 days. Some policies allow even less time.
Since the terms of your policy are legally binding, the insurance company is not obligated to provide you with a payout unless you report the accident within the specified timeframe. Even if you can prove that the other is at fault, there is always a chance that you will need to use your own insurance to cover the costs of the accident. For example, you could find that the other driver is uninsured.
You Will Show That You Are Taking the Accident Seriously
If you do not report the accident to your insurance company soon after it occurs, you leave yourself vulnerable to arguments that you are overstating your injuries. Similarly, you should always go to the ER after a crash, even if you do not feel hurt. Taking immediate action to attend to your health and respond to the crash shows that you are acting responsibly rather than neglecting your injuries.
You Can Recover Compensation Faster
In general, the faster you report the accident, the faster you can use the policy that you have paid for. Many times, insurance policies specify that they will cover the cost of a rental car in the days after an accident occurs. Depending on the cause of the crash, you may also need your insurance to cover medical bills and damage to your vehicle.
What If the Other Driver Is Liable for the Accident?
If, after reporting the accident to the police and to your insurance company, the other driver is found liable, you will be eligible to receive compensation from them or their insurance company. To hold the other driver accountable, you can file a personal injury claim within four years of the accident. If the other driver is uninsured or if their insurance company rejects your claim, you can initiate a lawsuit.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of some forms of evidence, such as the physical damage to the vehicles and the memory of witnesses, it is important to begin the claim submission process long before the statute of limitations expires. If you are successful, the compensation you can recover might include:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Lost wages
- Reduced or lost earning capacity
Speak With an Auto Accident Attorney
A personal injury attorney can help you determine whether or not it is in your best interests to seek damages from the other driver. If you feel you have grounds for a personal injury claim, demonstrating the negligence of the other driver could require some investigatory measures that go beyond relying on the police report.
When necessary, your lawyer can conduct their own investigation, interviewing witnesses and collecting documentation of the crash. This evidence can be used along with the police report to demonstrate your legal right to collect compensation. Even if you do not have grounds to hold the other driver accountable, your lawyer can help you make sure your insurance company honors your policy in full.
How to Notify an Insurance Company
There are a few vital pieces of information that you must communicate to your insurance company. When you are speaking with their representatives, you must take care not to reveal unnecessary details that could be used against you. Here are some guidelines to follow:
Report When and Where the Accident Happened
While you are still at the scene of the crash, take note of the precise location and time. Along with taking videos and photos of the accident, you should exchange information with the other driver and note the names of any responding police officers. In your report to your insurance company, you should include:
- Where the accident took place
- When it happened
- The other driver’s name, license plate, address, and insurance company
- The number of your own insurance policy
- The number of the police report, if one was made
Keep Your Phone Conversations Brief
While it might be tempting to vent about the accident, you should stick to the basic facts when speaking with your insurance company. Anything you say could be used to lower the value of your claim. If you are asked about your health condition, it is sufficient to state that there were injuries without providing an elaborate self-diagnosis.
If you are asked to give a recorded statement, you should check the terms of your policy before consenting. Recorded statements are almost always used as a means of obtaining evidence against the claimant.
Check With a Lawyer Before Agreeing to a Settlement
The representatives of the insurance company might act as though they want to help you sort out the accident as soon as possible. However, you should be wary of any possible attempts to pay you less than you deserve.
Before you accept a settlement offer, take some time to review it with an attorney. Your attorney is the only party who is exclusively incentivized to act in your best interests at all times. He or she will help you identify all of your losses and check to make sure that the settlement offer reflects them all.
We Represent Clients in Casper, Wyoming, Cody, Wyoming, and Cheyenne, Wyoming
Our firm has offices throughout the state of Wyoming, and we specialize in helping clients recover compensation after a car accident. If you are still unsure of how to approach your insurance company, or if you have other questions about the process, getting in touch with us directly is the best way to move forward. We offer free consultations as a first step towards claiming the payout you deserve.
We understand that navigating the legal system isn’t always intuitive, especially if you are still recovering from an injury. We offer support throughout the process, from dealing with the insurance companies to closing the case. When you need an auto accident attorney in Casper, Wyoming, Cody Wyoming, or Cheyenne, Wyoming, contact Ochs Law Firm.