Thousands of Oregon motorists are involved in accidents every year, and there is no shortage of work for Portland motor vehicle accident lawyers. As well as coping with the damage to their vehicles, many people also have to contend with injuries that cost them a considerable amount of money in medical treatment and lost wages. On top of all that, dealing with insurance companies and adjusters can be a nightmare at the best of times.
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you’re going to have to face an insurance company sooner or later. When that happens, there is a definite list surrounding the do’s and don’ts of a motor vehicle insurance claim.
To do and not to do…
Here is a list of everything Portland motor vehicle accident lawyers would advise their clients to do when filing a claim.
- Contact your own insurance company as soon as humanly possible after the accident has occurred. By all means, get the medical treatment you need first, but the next person to contact once that has been done is your own insurance agent.
- Get the insurance policy out of the bottom drawer, out from under the dishwasher manual, and take the time to both read it and understand it. Try to get a good idea in your own mind about what your policy will cover, and what it won’t, in order to make an appropriate claim.
- Be your own best source of information regarding your accident. Take pictures of any vehicles damaged in the accident—not just your own—and if you can, take pictures of any injuries sustained. Keep a cool head and remember to get the names and contact numbers of any witness to the accident. You may need them at a later date to validate your claim. Also, get the insurance details of any other person involved in the accident.
- Once you’ve contacted your insurance company, keep notes on every conversation, including the names of the insurance agent you spoke to, the dates and times of your conversations and what was said. If you speak to anyone else directly or indirectly involved in the accident, write down what they’ve said as well. It’s no harm to let the people you’re speaking with know that you are keeping precise records of what they’re telling you.
- Be a good bookkeeper. Save all your receipts for medical bills and any expenses that relate back to your claim. These will include things like repairs to your vehicle, the hire of a rental car if necessary and anything else covered under your insurance claim.
- Be completely honest with both the insurance investigators and, if you’ve hired one, your Portland personal motor vehicle accident lawyer. Any lapse in this practice could see your claim thrown out and deemed fraudulent.
- Do you have more than one policy? Many people carry multiple policies, and you’ll need to be aware of the coverage provided by all your insurance policies.
Now that we’ve covered the things a person filing a motor vehicle insurance claim should do, here’s an equally important list of things not to do:
- Stick to the facts but don’t admit liability. It’s up to the insurance companies to determine who’s at fault and who’s not, so the best thing you can do is tell the truth of what happened without expressing any opinion of who is to blame for the accident.
- When it doubt, don’t write it down. If there’s any part of your insurance policy or your claim that you’re not absolutely certain of, never ever give anything in writing to an insurance agent or adjuster. If in doubt, contact your team of Portland motor vehicle accident lawyers.
- Do not delay when making a claim. Every insurance policy has an established time limit on the filing of claims. Once that time limit has expired, your claim could be thrown out, regardless of the validity.
- Don’t believe everything you’re told by insurance agents and adjusters. Their job is to give you the least amount of money they can possibly get away with, and their estimates of losses will almost always be lower than the reality. Never accept their initial estimate unless you have already done your own estimates, or have received independent advice.
- Never sign anything that you don’t completely understand. You may be asked to sign a release or waiver by an adjuster who will assure you that you’re only following standard practices. Unless you’re absolutely positive you know what you’re signing, seek the help of a team of Portland motor vehicle accident lawyers for advice.
- Don’t accept a check from the insurance company that is presented as a full and final payment for your claim unless you are absolutely certain—and have received legal advice—that the payment is fair compensation for the losses you’ve incurred.
Motor vehicle insurance claims are an everyday occurrence for insurance companies, but hopefully not for you. Because of this, it’s important not to fall into the many pitfalls of an insurance claim process. When making a claim, it’s important that you’re fully aware of your rights and familiar with the coverage provided by your insurance company. And if you’re in any doubt whatsoever, the best thing you can do is contact one of the experienced Portland motor vehicle accident lawyers, who will guide you through the process and help you receive the compensation you deserve.