If you get into a car accident in Georgia, the stress of the crash, your injuries, and your vehicle damage is already a lot to handle. However, the insurance claims process can be just as confusing and overwhelming. Most people are not filing auto insurance claims regularly, so it can be hard knowing what to do or expect.
You might wonder what exactly happens after an insurance company learns about a car accident. Here’s a little inside look at what happens behind the scenes after you file a car accident claim with an insurance company.
What Happens Right After the Accident?
After you get into a car accident, you’ll need to let your own insurance company know you were in an accident. Give them the basic facts, but avoid discussing fault or specific details until you’ve spoken to an attorney. You should also gather the precise information at the scene, such as:
- The other driver’s name, contact information, car information, and car insurance company details
- Names of the responding police officers
- Witness names
- Pictures of the scene, your injuries, and your vehicle damage
If the accident was the other driver’s fault, their insurance company may also reach out to you after the accident. You should be very careful about what you say to the other insurance company.
They will ultimately be looking for ways to reduce their liability in the accident so they can pay less. Each auto insurance has slightly different standards at this point, but they will be looking to gather details about what happened during the accident. This includes who was at fault and how severe the damages were.
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Assigning a Claims Adjuster on the Claim
When a personal injury claim is filed with the insurance company, they assign a claims adjuster to the case. The adjuster is in charge of details like:
- Investigating the accident
- Going to the scene
- Looking at medical records
- Talking to witnesses
- Examining car damage
- Investigating insurance coverage for all drivers involved
All of these get evaluated to determine the most essential factor in a Georgia car accident: fault.
Determining Fault in the Georgia Car Accident
As insurance adjusters evaluate the accident, those injured in the accident are getting medical treatment and having their vehicles repaired. Either insurance company does not immediately cover these expenses. So first, the insurers must work behind the scenes to determine who was at fault.
Once the fault is determined, the insurance companies will negotiate to decide which must provide reimbursement for incurred expenses. This is not usually a simple process. Although the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) Title 51 outlines state law on negligence and liability, it does not dictate fault determination in auto accidents. That is ultimately up to the insurance companies.
Assigning a Percentage of Fault
After investigating the car accident, insurance companies will assign each party a percentage of fault. Under OCGA §51-12-33, Georgia uses modified comparative negligence, which means a driver can still recover damages if they are less than 50% at fault for the accident.
For example, say the insurance companies deem one driver is mostly 80% at fault, and the other driver is 20% at fault. The second driver would still be compensated for 20% of their damages. The drivers’ insurance companies would also hold the same percentage of fault. If only one driver is at fault, their insurance company will pay for the damages.
Drivers may also advocate for lower percentages of fault with help from their car accident lawyers. They can help gather evidence to prove the other driver’s fault and negotiate with the insurance adjuster for a fair settlement.
Resolving Insurance Company Payment Disputes
When the insurance company for each driver has finished investigating the claim, one insurer may send a payment demand to the other. Then, the other insurer can counter the demand. Then, both carriers will work to determine liability and who pays out. Sometimes, an arbitration panel may be utilized to settle payment disputes between insurers.
If the Other Driver Sues You
If you are determined to be at fault for your car accident, the other driver can bring a personal injury lawsuit against you. Although car accident cases usually settle before this stage, if it happens, your insurance company will represent you in court and settlement negotiations.
What Happens After Uninsured Driver or Hit-and-Run Accidents
You might wonder what happens on the insurance side if one driver does not have insurance. After an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident, your own insurance company should pay you if you already carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage. Most drivers have this insurance unless they specifically opted out when buying their policy.
After the insurance company pays you up to the minimum amount of coverage you carry, they will still try to find the uninsured driver and pursue reimbursement. The insurer may use the evidence you provide from the accident, such as any pictures you got of the driver or their vehicle, in their search.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Handle Your Claim
It’s important to remember that even your own insurance company is a for-profit business that cares about its bottom line. As a result, insurers do not like to pay much for insurance claims, even from their policyholders.
An experienced Georgia car accident lawyer can help ensure you get treated fairly and that your rights are protected. It’s easy for something you said or did after the accident to be taken out of context or used against you.
For example, something as simple as saying “I’m okay” or sounding cheerful after the accident can get used as “evidence” that you weren’t hurt badly and in need of medical treatment.
Try to File Your Claim As Soon As Possible
One thing that can significantly reduce your chances of getting a fair settlement is by filing your claim too late. If you pass the time that the statute of limitations affords you, you miss your chance to win compensation. In addition, if you wait too long to file, the insurance company may see that as proof that your car accident wasn’t that serious.
As time passes, critical evidence pertaining to your car accident can disappear. Don’t find yourself in a position where you have to fight an uphill battle against the insurance company. Instead, get help from our lawyers as soon as possible and file your claim.
No Upfront Fees
Our car accident lawyers can help you file a claim and fight for fair compensation without any need for payment upfront. We know the ins and outs of how insurance companies work, and the last thing we want to be is an additional financial burden after your car accident.
We operate on a contingency fee basis which means that we only get paid if we can win a settlement on your behalf. If we can’t win a settlement, you owe us absolutely nothing in return. Thus, our goal is to get you the maximum amount of compensation possible. While you recover from your injuries, allow us to deal with the insurance companies for you.
Talk to Our Car Accident Lawyers Today
Don’t miss out on the compensation you deserve after a car accident. John Foy & Associates can guide you through each step of the process. We never work for or back down from insurance companies. We know how to win cases. To schedule a FREE consultation and case evaluation with one of our car accident lawyers, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today.