When you’ve been in a car accident, you have a lot information coming at you in all directions. It is hard to know what to do first and the entire claims process can be confusing and stressful. Hiring an attorney to handle your claim against the other driver’s insurance company, or your own, is a smart move since they are well versed in how the process works and can effectively counter unfair settlement offers. However, it can help your peace of mind if you understand just how it all works and what happens after your call your insurance agency when you’ve had an accident.
The Car Accident Insurance Process
The statute of limitations for a car accident in Arkansas is three years. This means that when you’ve been in an accident, you have three years from the date of the accident to file your personal injury claim. Once the three years have passed, if you have not filed a claim, you no longer have the option to do so. This is why it is best to begin the process as soon after the accident as possible.
Once the claim is filed, the insurance company will begin their own investigation to determine who was at fault. This means that if another driver was involved in the accident, then their insurance company will also be conducting an investigation – even if that driver was deemed to be at fault and ticketed. The insurance companies work for their own best interest and are looking for any evidence that their own insured was either completely not at fault or partially not at fault. If they can determine their insured was not completely at fault it minimized their financial responsibility.
At the conclusion of the insurance company’s investigation, they will often present a settlement offer if they determine that their insured was partially responsible for the accident. Sometimes they will assert that their insured was not at fault and refuse to pay – that’s a great time to get an attorney to take your case. Don’t jump on the first offer. If you are considering an offer you want to make sure it covers all of your expenses. A personal injury attorney can help you distinguish an unfair, lowball settlement offer from a legitimate one.
It should also be noted that personal injury car accident lawsuits are usually settled outside of a courtroom. They rarely go to trial.
Filing Insurance Claims for Car Damage
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. This sets the claims process in motion and the insurance company can begin their investigation. When you call, you will need to provide the following information:
- Your name as it appears on the policy
- Your policy number
- Your policy’s start and end date
- The location of the accident
- The date and time of the accident
- The names and contact information of all drivers involved as well as their (and your) passengers
- The names and contact information of all witnesses
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers for all drivers involved in the accident
- Police report number
- If you are anyone else was hurt and if anyone sought medical attention
- If there was any property damage
Your insurance company may require you to submit a sworn statement that describes the accident in detail. This might include the time of day, road conditions, visibility, weather, and other factors that could impact driving ability for either driver.
Make sure you have a pen and paper handy so you can write down any information the claims operator gives you, including your claim number. If they assign someone to handle your claim, get their name and number as well.
Car Accident Insurance Claim Time Frame
Under Arkansas insurance laws, an insurance carrier is required to acknowledge a claim within 15 business days from the date they received it. The acknowledgment is typically in writing, but if it is not, then they must place a detailed note in the file.
Within 20 days of the insurance carrier’s receipt of the claim, they must provide the claimant with forms for a proof of loss as well as any instructions or other claims forms. Throughout the process, they must provide any necessary information or requests for information in a timely manner.
They are also required under state law to acknowledge and respond to any communications that would reasonably require a response. The time frame for that response is within 15 business days of receiving the communication.
The insurance company’s investigation must be concluded within 45 calendar days of the date the claim was opened. If for some reason they are unable to conclude their investigation within the prescribed time, they are required to inform the claimant prior to the date that the 45 days expires to let them know they need more time and why. The notice of needing additional time must be updated every 45 calendar days after the initial extension notice.
Once the insurance company receives a properly completed proof of loss, they have 15 days to inform the claimant that they are accepting or denying the claim.
Once the investigation closes, the carrier must deliver or mail all claims checks within 10 days of that date.
If you have been hurt in a car accident or sustained property damage, we know how stressful it can be. At the Law Offices of Alan LeVar, we work hard to get our clients the compensation they deserve. Our attorneys are skilled and knowledgeable but also compassionate and understand the pressure involved in dealing with a car accident. Contact us and let us handle your case so you can focus on more important things like your healing.