How to Make a Claim in a Car Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault

When you’re in a car accident, it can be difficult to know how to make a claim for compensation. Most people don’t think about the specific considerations until they need to file a claim. Of course, when you’re in a car accident, the first thing you need to do is attend to your immediate safety.

Once you’ve done that, the process for making a car accident claim starts right away. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind if you need to file a claim for a Tampa auto accident that wasn’t your fault.

Call the Police

The first step to filing a claim after a car accident that isn’t your fault is calling the police. A police officer has training and experience in compiling a comprehensive report after an accident. In fact, most road patrol officers make several traffic crash reports each week. Their experience can work in your favor as they carefully document who was involved in the accident and how it occurred.

The law enforcement officer should gather a lot of the information that you need, but it’s important to make sure that they do. They need to collect the contact information of other drivers and witnesses as well as the other driver’s insurance information.

The officer should evaluate the scene and make a preliminary determination of fault, but it’s important to keep in mind that a law enforcement officer doesn’t necessarily have the final say on who’s at fault for the crash. When the report is complete, you can get a copy to give to the insurance companies.

What You Need to Do

In addition to the police officer’s work, make sure you take photos at the scene. Chances are, you’re not going to be able to see the photos that the officer takes, so it’s wise to take your own. You may want to avoid any interaction with the other driver if they are hostile. If the law enforcement officer records the person’s contact and insurance information, that should be what you need to file an appropriate claim.

The Claims Process

You may need to file a claim for damages to your vehicle, personal injuries or both. You’ll likely need to file a claim with both your insurance and the insurance company for the other driver. In many cases, insurers have a website or phone app to guide you through the process. That app or website should help you submit all of the different information the insurance company needs initially to process a claim.

Vehicle Damages

Claims for vehicle damages in Florida go outside of the state’s no-fault system. That is, if the other side is at fault for the crash, you can recover from them even if you don’t have serious physical injuries. Each driver should have insurance that pays up to $10,000 for property damages. That means, when the other driver is at fault, you should be able to submit a claim to their insurance for your losses.

You might also have coverage from your own insurance for your vehicle damages. This type of coverage is called collision insurance and is optional. If you have it, you can look to your own insurance company to cover your losses too. They will usually try to get your deductible back.

Personal Injury Damages

Personal injury damages are part of Florida’s no-fault laws. That is, generally, you recover from your own insurance provider regardless of who’s at fault for the crash. To recover for your injury damages, in most cases, you submit the claim to your own insurance. Again, there should be an app or website form to guide you through the process.

In some cases, you may be able to go outside of the no-fault system to sue the other driver for your serious injuries. This might apply when you suffer permanent injuries, scarring, or permanent loss of a major bodily function. If you can move outside of the no-fault system, you may qualify for pain and suffering damages that are otherwise unavailable to injured victims.

When the Insurance Company Doesn’t Pay

In a perfect world, you submit your claim, and the insurance company pays you quickly and fairly. After all, the point of the no-fault system is to ensure everyone has coverage regardless of fault. Unfortunately, the insurance companies sometimes try to deny valid claims. When that’s the case, you have options.

There’s usually an internal administrative review process that allows you to ask the insurance company to look at the case again. A fresh set of eyes may overturn the original decision. This review might be all you need to reach the right result. You can look on the insurance company’s website or call the insurer to ask how to make this request.

If the insurer still doesn’t get it right, you may bring an action in court. This may be an action to force the insurance company to pay you fairly, or it may be an action for your severe damages that fall outside of the no-fault system. In any event, you have a right to bring your case for the courts to decide as you aren’t bound by the insurance company’s decision.

Related: How to Sue After a Car Accident in Tampa, FL

How an Attorney Can Help

An experienced auto accident attorney can apply their knowledge to give you guidance on the best way to proceed with negotiations with the insurance company. Sometimes, just knowing that a skilled attorney is fighting for you can be enough to prompt the insurance company to pay you fairly. If you need to bring a case to court, your attorney is critical to preparing your case. They know how to demand records using Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure.

If you have been in an auto accident that is not your fault, and need help navigating the insurance claim process, contact Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys today. This skilled legal team can help you better understand what aspects you need to consider for a successful personal injury claim. They can help you address the case from all sides to arrive at the maximum amount of compensation for your losses. Schedule your free consultation by calling (813) 333-6666 today.

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 35 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.