A wrecked black car on a road.
When you have a car accident, you need to report it to the insurance company in order to obtain compensation for the losses you may have sustained in the accident. However, many people aren’t sure what happens next. How do car insurance companies handle accident claims in Atlanta, and what do you need to provide?

At the Accident Scene: Helping Your Claim Progress More Smoothly

You can do your part to help a car accident claim progress more smoothly by carefully handling the way you deal with the accident scene. First, report the accident to the police if it involves significant property damage or any type of injury. Wait for the police to arrive. You can copy the liable driver’s insurance information and license while you wait. Snapping a photo on your phone can make it easy to keep up with that vital information. You may also want to collect relevant evidence from the accident, including:
  • Photos of the scene
  • Photos of both vehicles
  • Photos of any damage to your vehicle or the other vehicle
  • Photos of any features of the accident scene that may have contributed to the accident
  • Contact information from any witnesses
Once the police arrive, or while talking to the liable driver, avoid any statement that might accept even partial liability for the accident.  Offer the police the information you have about the accident, but do not make statements that brush off the other driver’s actions or that indicate that you may have shared responsibility for the accident.

Insurance Processing

After the accident, you will need to contact the insurance company to start the claim process. If you suffered injuries in the accident, you may want to get in touch with a lawyer before you begin processing your claim, since a lawyer can help guide the potential outcome of your claim and ensure that you do not inadvertently limit the compensation you can recover.

Step One: Investigation

Once the insurance company receives your claim and determines that you need to file an injury claim, the company will assign a claims adjuster to the case. The claims adjuster will open an investigation into your claim, including a look at all the details that may have led to the accident. The extent of the investigation may depend on the severity of your injuries as well as the circumstances that led to your accident. In conditions where one driver clearly caused the accident, it may take less time and effort to investigate the rest of the details of the claim. However, in many cases, the investigation process can prove quite complicated. The claims adjuster may need to:
  • Take a look at any photos you collected from the accident scene (as well as any photos collected by the other driver)
  • Look over the details of the police report
  • Talk to any witnesses that saw the accident
  • Send out an expert to examine the damage to both vehicles involved in the accident
If the accident involved a commercial driver, the insurance adjuster will also want to look into the details of the driver’s employment, including whether he carried adequate insurance or was covered by the company, and which company will have to take care of the damages from the accident. Once the insurance company has investigated the accident, the claims adjuster may need to take a look at the information related to your injuries. That may mean evaluation of your medical records as well as your medical bills. In some cases, you may need to undergo an independent evaluation from a care provider hired specifically by the insurance company, who will take a look at the full extent of your injuries and the limitations they pose.

Step Two: Evaluation

Once the insurance adjuster has taken a look at all the evidence from the accident, they will evaluate fault of the accident.  The Code of Georgia Title 51 lays out how liability works in many types of accidents, including car accidents, but does not specify who bears liability for various accident types. The insurance companies of the drivers involved in the accident will need to work out liability for the accident. Generally, the two companies will assign a percentage of fault to each driver involved in the accident. In many cases, 100% of the fault for the accident will rest with one driver. In other cases, however, the insurance companies may decide that one driver bears the majority of the fault for the accident, but the other driver bears some liability: 10%, 20%, or more. The driver who bears the lower liability percentage may have the compensation they can recover for the accident reduced by the liability they bear. Once liability has been assigned, the claims adjuster will evaluate the case to determine how much compensation the injured party deserves.

Step Three: Offer

The insurance company will issue a settlement offer based on the compensation the company feels that you deserve for your injuries. Often, however, that settlement offer will not reflect the full compensation you may deserve for serious injuries sustained in a car accident. In fact, you may receive a settlement offer that reflects only a small percentage of the compensation you deserve, overall, for your injuries. Then, you need to negotiate. Working with a lawyer can help considerably with the negotiation process, since a lawyer can give you a better idea of how much compensation you really deserve for car accident injuries. A lawyer can also help you deal with the insurance company as effectively as possible, which may put you in a better position of power as you negotiate and increase the odds that you will recover the compensation you deserve. Once you accept a settlement offer, the insurance company will provide payment, which will end the company’s obligation to you. Do you have questions about an Atlanta car accident claim? Do you need a lawyer to help you negotiate, or to go over the compensation you may deserve? Contact Cambre & Associates today for a free consultation.