No one expects to get into a car accident when they leave the house for the day, but that often does happen. Nearly 39,000 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020 in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), even with fewer people driving that year.
When you get into a car accident, it can turn your life upside down, causing much distress. Even if injuries are minimal, there are many issues to contend with, such as:
- Filing a police report
- Obtaining medical care
- Filing a car insurance claim
- Working with an insurance adjuster
- Scheduling vehicle repairs
- Take time off work, possibly losing income
All of this can feel overwhelming. It’s important to understand the process for filing your car insurance claim so that you aren’t left on the short end of the deal when it comes to a settlement. Even if you were partially responsible for the accident, you have legal rights to protect after a car accident. It’s essential to understand the do’s and don’ts for car insurance claims in Illinois so that you will know what to expect.
List of Do’s for Filing a Car Insurance Claim in Illinois
You should do several things that could help your insurance claim. These are as follows:
File a Police Report
It’s vital to report the accident to the police so that there is an accurate record of what happened. Be sure to describe what occurred during the accident. You can get a copy of the police report for the insurance company, but it’s not a requirement. A lawyer may be able to handle this task for you.
Seek Medical Attention
If you’re badly injured, you will want to go to an emergency medical facility for care. However, even if you don’t think you sustained injuries, it’s essential to see a physician to get checked out. Often, physical injuries don’t show up right away. You want to have documentation of the medical care from the beginning.
Get Eyewitness Accounts
If there is a potential for a dispute in what occurred, you may want to solicit an eyewitness to give an account for the police report. If the accident is clear-cut, you might be able to forgo this step (e.g., a car rams you in the side, and they clearly don’t have the right-of-way). Still, having witnesses to support your claim can help prove your case.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Let your insurance agent know immediately about the accident and all its associated losses. Be sure to let it know about the physical damages to the vehicle and bodily injuries you may have sustained.
Work Closely with the Insurance Adjuster
Keep in close touch with the insurance adjuster to avoid missing any important information or appointments. Make sure you give them all the required information they request right away and let them know if you have relevant updates.
Protect Your Vehicle from Further Damage
The damage that occurred during the accident will be the insurance company’s responsibility. However, if additional damages happen due to negligence on your part, you could be liable. For example, if the window gets broken but you don’t cover it, the insurance company won’t pay for rain damage to the interior.
File Within Illinois’ Statute of Limitations
When dealing with a personal injury of any kind, you must file your claim within a certain time frame. Illinois law, 735 ILCS 5/13-202, states that you have up to two years to file a claim for personal injury.
If a loved one suffered fatal injuries during a car crash, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is also two years, according to 740 ILCS 180/2.
Keep a Record
It’s vital to keep a record of everything pertaining to the accident after it occurs. Keep any documents you receive. Take note of all communications you have and any fees you pay.
List of Don’ts for Filing a Car Insurance Claim in Illinois
Some actions could negatively affect your car insurance claim. These are the don’ts you need to be aware of:
Don’t Make Any Repairs
Don’t take the step of starting to repair your vehicle on your own without the insurance company’s approval. You want to ensure you get the funds and approval for the repairs. Otherwise, they may not cover all the costs.
Don’t Sign Anything (Right Away)
Eventually, you will sign an agreement for settlement, but you don’t want to do that without considerable negotiations or an understanding of your rights. You need to be sure you know the extent of your vehicle’s damages and your medical injuries.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, there is really no way that you can know what your damages will be. You might think your car has minor damage. However, when you take it in, you may find out the damage is much more extensive. Also, medical issues may not surface the first day; some people experience delayed symptoms from the car wreck.
Don’t Take the First Repair Estimate You Get
Unless you have a certain mechanic you always use, you don’t have to accept the first estimate you get. You can shop around for different estimates until you find one you are comfortable with.
Don’t Settle on the Loss Amount if You Disagree
If the insurance company is offering you an amount to settle for the damages, but you don’t agree with that amount, you have the right to ask for an appraisal. The other party will get an appraisal, too. Both parties must pay for their own appraisals. An umpire will help judge which figure is accurate if the appraisers disagree.
Call Kryder Law Group Today for a Free Consultation
Do you need additional help with an accident claim? Working with a car insurance adjuster may not be at the top of your priority list. Maybe your schedule is hectic, or you don’t want to deal with the back-and-forth negotiations that are involved. No worries — you have options.
Get in touch with Kryder Law Group for help after your Illinois-area car accident. Our attorneys can assist you with the steps in recovering the damages from a car accident. Call for a free consultation at (312) 223-1700.