Many insurance companies allow claim filing over the phone using a toll-free number located on your insurance card. You should contact your insurance company as soon as practicable to begin the claims process.
Although that does cover the minimum requirement of notifying your insurance company, there is more to filing a claim when damages are involved.
Reporting Your Car Accident to the Police
Suppose you have been involved in an accident involving damage to your vehicle, another vehicle, or property. You should take the following steps:
- First, contact the local law enforcement agency.
- Document everything you can, including the vehicles involved, driver and passenger information, insurance information from all other drivers, and photographs of the vehicles before moving them.
- Move the vehicles out of the traffic lanes if able.
You will need to supply your name, registration number, and insurance information to the police and the driver of any other vehicle involved. If a non-vehicular property was involved, you must inform the property owner if they are on scene.
Mandatory Reporting in Virginia
Vehicle accidents are covered in Code of Virginia Chapter 8, with accident reporting outlined in Va. Code § 46.2-894. You must report an accident if:
- There is an injury or death
- A vehicle or other property is damaged
If you cannot complete the reporting due to injury, you must do so at your earliest opportunity. Not filing an accident report can result in Class 5 felony charges.
Reporting Your Accident to Your Insurance Carrier
When you report to your insurance carrier, it may automatically trigger the claims process. Most insurance companies like you to contact them at your earliest convenience. That may be a few days, but it should not be more than a week unless your injuries prohibit you from notifying them.
During this initial call, provide only basic information such as the date and time, location, and the other parties involved. An insurance company may use anything you say to deny your claim.
Filing a Car Accident Claim with Your Insurance
An insurance claim is a request for compensation from your insurance company. They will generally assign an adjuster who will investigate the accident on behalf of the insurance company. Their job is to find a way to pay as little as possible for damages.
If you need to obtain a copy of the police report, you must file a written request using a CRD 93 form available as an online PDF. Once complete, print the document and send it via mail, fax, or submit it to a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) service center. Each copy costs $8.00, but the pricing is subject to periodic increases.
Most insurance companies allow you to file your claim via telephone, online, in-person, or by completing the necessary forms and submitting them via email, regular mail, or fax.
Statute of Limitations for Claims Filing
You only have limited time to file an insurance claim for damages from an accident. In Manassas, Va. Code § 8.01-243 sets the statute at two years from the time of any accident-related injury. You must file property damage claims within five years from the accident date.
Understanding What to Do at the Accident Scene
The first thing you should do at the scene after notifying the police is attend to your injuries. Do not delay medical treatment. If you do not receive transportation from the scene, go to a hospital as soon as possible. Internal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, whiplash, and other injuries may not be immediately evident. Seeking medical treatment is crucial.
If you can move around the scene, try to take pictures of the vehicle damage from several angles. Get information from other people involved, but avoid talking or speculating about the accident.
Among the information you should request from other people in the accident and witnesses includes:
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of the other driver and passengers
- A picture of the other driver’s license, but do not force the issue
- Record insurance policy numbers and the name of the insurance company
- Information about the vehicle; include the make, model, and license plates
- Take notes from any conversations you have with other people
You will also need to maintain copies of all medical information, reports, bills, and doctor statements regarding your injuries.
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How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help Me?
After receiving injuries from a car accident, an attorney can assist you in filing a claim. You should consider filing a claim when any of the following occur:
- You or others are injured
- When fault is unclear
- If your vehicle is “totaled” or you cannot pay to replace it
Although it is possible to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should avoid it in the above instances. The insurance company aims to pay as little as possible, which may not cover all your related expenses.
Contact a Manassas Car Accident Lawyer for Help with the Claims Process Today
A Manassas car accident lawyer from the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC, is ready to fight for you. Contact our office for a complimentary consultation. Attorney Jim Parrish is familiar with the insurance industry and knows how to build successful claims.