Car Crash Guide
- Cooperate with law enforcement authorities.
- Avoid any confrontations.
- If you are injured, be sure to get medical care immediately.
- Remember that many injuries will not be apparent for a day or two. If possible, get names and addresses of any witnesses.
- Ask a family member to take photos of your injuries, your car and the scene of the accident. Also take photographs of all of your injuries again a couple of days later, when bruising may be more visible.
- Beware of insurance companies that often want to settle quickly. Be sure to consult with an attorney regarding your rights and then decide what course is best for you.
Automobile Accident Cases
Which insurance company should I file my property damage claim with?
If both you and the person responsible for the accident have insurance coverage, you have the option of submitting a property damage claim to your insurance company under the collision coverage of your policy, These amounts would not be reduced by any deductible, or submitting a claim against the other person’s insurance carrier for the damage to your vehicle. The downside of submitting a claim to your insurance company is that you will have to pay your deductible to have your vehicle fixed. The upside is that often times it takes less time to process a claim with your own insurance company because, under your collision coverage, it does not matter who is at fault for the accident. Your insurance carrier only needs to determine the amount of the damages and not liability.
If the other person’s insurance carrier accepts liability for the accident immediately, it may be wise to file a claim directly with the other person’s insurance carrier. That carrier will be responsible for reimbursing you for a rental vehicle, for a reasonable period of time until your car is fixed, and will also be responsible for paying the towing and storage charges.
Regardless of which carrier you file your claim with, most times a reputable auto body shop can deal directly with the insurance company to reach an agreement on the appropriate amount to be paid to have the car repaired. If your vehicle is declared a total loss, you should find out the bluebook value of your vehicle as a guideline to what the insurance carrier should be offering you. Property damage claims are often times frustrating because the market value of the car is sometimes less than the outstanding loan and usually less than what the car is actually worth to you.
Who will pay my medical bills?
There are three potential sources of payment for the medical bills incurred as a result of an automobile accident: 1) your health insurance carrier; 2) your automobile insurance carrier; and 3) the automobile insurance carrier of the responsible person.
Bills should be forwarded to your health insurance carrier. In the vast majority of cases, the responsible party’s insurance will not pay the medical bills until the claim is settled.
If you have automobile insurance, you should submit bills to your automobile insurance carrier for payment under the medical payments (med-pay) provisions of your policy. New Hampshire law requires med-pay of at least $1,000 be offered with every New Hampshire automobile policy.
While your health insurance carrier usually has a right of subrogation to receive reimbursement for medical bills it paid once you settle your claim, New Hampshire law prohibits subrogation for medical payments coverage under your own automobile insurance.
As a courtesy to our clients, we submit the medical bills to our client’s insurance carrier for payments under the med-pay provisions of the policy. We do not take a fee for this service. It is our goal to make sure each client gets the maximum amount of insurance coverage available, regardless of the source.
How long does the claim take?
The answer to that question is largely dependent upon the nature and severity of the injuries. If you are injured in an automobile accident that is someone else’s fault, you are entitled to receive your lost wages, and reimbursement for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Because your future pain and suffering is an important factor in the value of your claim, it is not wise to settle a claim before you have reached your maximum medical improvement.
Reaching maximum medical improvement does not mean you are pain-free. It merely means the active medical care has ended. Unless we have a final report from the doctor, it is extremely difficult to properly evaluate a claim for settlement. Accordingly, how long your claim takes depends on how long it takes to reach maximum medical improvement.
How much is my claim worth?
Once again, this depends on the nature and severity of your injuries as well as the amount of medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Under New Hampshire law, you are entitled to receive full, fair, and adequate compensation for your out-of-pocket expenses, as well as your pain and suffering. Fair and adequate compensation for pain and suffering increases substantially if you have sustained a permanent injury that restricts you from either working or participating in hobbies or sporting activities you enjoyed prior to your injury. Each insurance carrier evaluates cases differently and it is helpful to know what information each carrier deems important.
Do I need a lawyer?
Allstate Insurance sometimes gives people who have been injured by Allstate-insured drivers a brochure which suggests the injured person will not need a lawyer in order to settle a claim with Allstate. Taking advice from an insurance company on whether you need a lawyer or not is like asking a salesperson who is selling time share units whether you are getting a good deal. While in some cases the advice may be accurate, it is always wise to get a second opinion. At Normand | Higham, we regularly speak to people free of charge and give advice on how to settle a small claim without a lawyer’s involvement. Most clients appreciate our honest advice and end up referring cases to our firm in the future.