When another driver hits your car, knowing what to do next can give you an advantage in recovering compensation for your injuries. The steps in an auto insurance claims process are generally the same every time, even though the details of an accident vary from case to case. Knowing how the auto insurance claim process works in Missouri allows you to better prepare for what comes next and maximize your potential compensation.
The Kansas City, MO, car accident lawyers at The McCallister Law Firm have handled many auto insurance claims and want to help you protect your rights. Below you will find a list of the main steps in an auto insurance claim and information about how you can maximize your compensation. Keep reading to learn more.
STEPS IN A MISSOURI AUTO INSURANCE CLAIM
If another driver hits you in Missouri, the first thing to do after calling the authorities and seeking medical attention is to speak with a Kansas City auto accident attorney. An attorney can review your case and tell you who might be responsible for your injuries, what compensation you could receive, and whether you should move forward with an insurance claim or lawsuit. After you meet with a car accident lawyer, the next steps in an auto insurance claim are:
- Preliminary investigation – Once you have hired an attorney, they can investigate the crash and look for evidence to support your case. To maximize your potential compensation, you and your lawyer will need proof that someone else caused your injuries and evidence of all the injuries you sustained. You and your attorney can use photos from the crash scene, medical records, police accident reports, and other evidence to substantiate your claim.
- Determining who caused your injuries – After the preliminary investigation, your car accident lawyer will review the evidence to identify who is liable for your injuries. Depending on how the crash happened, the potentially liable parties include the other driver, a car or parts manufacturer, or another party. In some cases, multiple parties share fault for a crash, which means you must file multiple claims to recover full compensation for your injuries.
- Identifying all your covered losses – No insurance company will pay any more than they have to for an auto insurance claim. To recover maximum compensation, you need to discover what the at-fault party’s insurance policy covers. You must then document all the injuries and financial losses you sustained from the accident. The more evidence you have that shows your injuries from the crash and their effect on your life, the more money you can recover.
- Filing an insurance claim – Once you and your lawyer have documented your injuries and identified who caused the crash, you can file an insurance claim against the other driver or another liable party. Your car accident attorney can help you prepare your claim and correct any issues with the claim and accompanying documentation before submitting the claim.
- Settlement negotiations – After the insurance company receives your claim, they will review the evidence you gathered and either make a settlement offer or reject the claim. If they accept the claim, you and your lawyer can review the settlement offer to see if it meets your needs. If they reject the claim, you can submit additional evidence to make your case. Regardless of the outcome, never accept an insurance company’s initial determination about your claim without talking to an attorney.
- Settlement negotiations end, or you file a lawsuit – If you and the insurance company can reach an acceptable settlement agreement, that is the end of your case. But if the insurance company will not negotiate in good faith, you may need to file a lawsuit. Car accident lawsuits can be risky and expensive, so make sure you talk to a lawyer before you file.
- Discovery – If you file a lawsuit, the next step is for both sides to exchange the evidence they have gathered. In legal terms, this process of exchanging evidence is called “discovery.” Depending on your case’s complexity, the discovery process can take several months or longer.
- Mediation – Before your case heads to trial, you and the insurance company will likely be required to meet with a mediator. Mediation is a faster, cheaper alternative to a trial and can break the logjam in a car accident case. Hopefully, you and the insurance company can reach an agreement through mediation. If not, then it is time to prepare for trial.
- Trial – Most car accident cases never reach the trial stage, but sometimes you must take an insurer to court to protect your rights. Because trials are risky and expensive, ensure you work with an experienced car accident lawyer. Without skilled assistance, you could risk losing the money you need for medical bills and other losses.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MISSOURI AUTO INSURANCE CLAIMS
Auto insurance claims in Missouri can be complicated, and here are the answers to some of the most common questions we receive about these cases:
- How long do I have to file a car accident lawsuit? According to the Revised Statutes of Missouri, you have five years from the date of a car accident to sue any potentially liable parties. If you miss this deadline, your case will most likely be automatically dismissed, barring you from recovering compensation through the court system for your injuries.
- How much is my auto accident claim worth? Every car accident claim is different, and an attorney will need to look closely at your case before they can tell you how much it is worth. You might be eligible to pursue compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and damaged personal property.
- How much does it cost to hire an auto accident lawyer? At The McCallister Law Firm, our Missouri car accident lawyers work on contingency. That means you do not owe us any fees unless you recover compensation for your injuries. We take this approach so that anyone who needs an attorney can afford one.
CONTACT A MISSOURI AUTO ACCIDENT LAWYER TODAY
The McCallister Law Firm is ready to enforce your rights after a crash and help you secure maximum compensation. Call us today or visit our contact page for a free, no-obligation case review.