If you are one of the millions of people each year who was injured in an auto accident and are dealing with rising medical bills, lost wages, ongoing pain, etc. there are some important steps you need to take to help get those bills covered and to bring a successful auto claim.
The first is to contact your own auto insurance to get medical benefits coverage. You should have what is called personal injury protection (PIP) or no fault medical benefits coverage with your auto policy. This medical benefits coverage will cover your medical bills up to the policy limits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. To get these benefits you will have to fill out some forms and send them back to your auto insurer. If you are not sure how to fill them out an attorney experienced in handling auto claims can help you with this. You should contact your own auto insurance about the accident even if you were just a passenger in someone else’s car.
What if you do not own a car and were just a passenger in another person’s car when the accident happened? Then you contact the auto insurance for the car you were a passenger in and go through the same process of filling out forms. Once these medical benefits are exhausted you will get a letter notifying you of this from the auto insurer. At this point you must submit all future medical bills to your health insurance. If you do not have health insurance any additional unpaid medical bills can be included as part of your damages for an auto claim if you have one.
The second is to make sure you get property damage coverage for your damaged car from your auto insurer if you have that coverage. Your auto insurer will inspect the damage to your car and provide reasonable costs for repairs. If your car was totaled your auto insurer will get a check for the current value of your car. This does not mean the original price you paid for the car but instead the present value of the car which will usually be less.
Third, you should get a copy of the police report. Hopefully after the accident either you, the other driver, or a witness contacted the police. You will also want to give a statement to the police about the accident so that they can complete their report and investigation. If you are having problems getting the report an attorney can also help you with that.
Fourth you (or if you are medically not able to a family member or close friend) should take pictures showing the extent of the damage to your car.
Fifth if you have lost wages you will need to get copies of your taxes from the past couple of years as well as recent pay stubs to help show what those lost wages were. You should also make a list of names of any co-employees or managers at your work who can talk about what kind of employee you were at work and how the accident changed you.
Finally you will need to get your medical records. This can be handled by contacting the medical records department at the hospital or doctor’s office you treated. However an attorney who is experienced in handling auto accident claims can get these records for you after you sign an authorization allowing any hospital or doctor you treated with to release your records to your attorney.
If you or a member of our family was involved in an auto accident and are not sure what to do next, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call and answer your questions at 215-568-6800.