If you have been in an automobile accident and the other party involved is at fault, the first question you probably have is how to get the other party's or your own insurance company to pay your damages.
Once a report is made and the accident is turned over to the adjuster, adjuster may request a statement from you. A couple of things will happen whether or not you give a statement, which in cases involving significant injuries and damages may not be advisable without the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
First, with regard to your property damages, the insurance company will send an adjuster to look at your vehicle to determine the amount of damage due to the accident. Sometimes the adjuster will provide you with a check at the time of the vehicle inspection. Other times a check will be sent to you. Upon receipt of the check, you can take your car to the repair shop of your choice. If the repair shop determines that additional repairs are needed, a representative of the shop will contact the adjuster directly to provide an explanation and hopefully, obtain additional funds for the necessary repairs. If the repairs needed are clearly related to the accident, there usually is no problem obtaining supplemental repair damages.
The second item concerns your damages for personal injuries. The adjuster will want to know if you were injured in the accident and if so, what sort of medical treatment was obtained. The adjuster will want copies of medical records and medical bills. If you have minimal treatment and are able to provide documentation quickly to the insurance adjuster, you may be able to obtain a settlement and resolve your personal injury claim within a reasonably short amount of time.
However, if you have a more extensive injury that requires months of medical treatment, the process may take some time. In cases involving serious injuries and significant medical treatment, there are numerous complexities that may necessitate the assistance of an attorney. In any event, at this point most claimants obtain an attorney because the process is too aggravating to a person not familiar with the insurance or legal system.
With or without a lawyer, certain tasks must be accomplished to obtain a satisfactory personal injury settlement. The most important task is to obtain objective evidence of your damages and to provide that information to the adjuster. This evidence includes medical records, medical bills, proof of lost income and proof of other expenses that were incurred because of the accident and your injury. Medical records and bills are easily obtained and are easily understood by the adjuster.
Proof of lost wages can be shown by providing copies of pay stubs and time cards to prove your hourly wage and days missed. A letter from your supervisor stating that you missed a particular number of days following the accident can also be helpful. And, if you incurred other damages that are related, such as medications or medical items, provide a receipts that clearly shows the item and cost.
You may wonder, what about pain and suffering? To you, the back or neck pain that prevented you from playing your usual golf game or sleeping soundly through the night is worth a great deal. The worry you faced about your job security when you had to take off time from work over and over for doctor's appointments or simply because you didn't feel well enough to work, is significant and worth money to you.
As important and valuable as these damages are to you, they unfortunately are viewed with skepticism by adjusters. Simply put, to an adjuster, your pain and suffering along with the inconvenience you endured and the mental anguish you faced means little. Certainly there is some consideration of these elements of your damages, but these elements are not nearly as important to the adjuster as the objective documentation of your injury and damages.
The moral of the story is to be prepared to back up your demand for money damages with proof to give to the adjuster or your attorney. Keep every receipt, every pay stub and every bill you receive from the beginning and be prepared to provide it to back up your claim for damages. And keep in mind any claims whose pain and suffering value is out of proportionate to objectively measured damages will be met with significant resistance from the adjuster.