Navigating Car Insurance Claims After an Indiana Accident: A Step-by-Step Guide

Category: Car Accidents

Article by Daniel J. Tuley

Navigating Car Insurance Claims After an Indiana Accident: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re injured in a traffic accident, it’s easy for confusion to set in. Should you call the police? Do you file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance company or your own? Can you negotiate a settlement yourself, or will you need an attorney’s help?

It’s crucial to understand your legal options and obligations after a crash in Indiana. In this article, we explain what you must do if you’re injured in a car accident, the deadlines for reporting the crash and filing an insurance claim, and how to increase your chances of getting fair compensation.

Understanding Car Insurance Coverage in Indiana

Before diving into the claims process, it’s essential to understand how car insurance coverage works in Indiana.

  • Insurance is required. By law, Indiana requires motorists to carry liability insurance to pay for injury costs and property damage after an accident. Drivers have the option of paying for additional types of insurance like collision, comprehensive, supplemental life insurance, and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance cover to provide added protection.
  • Indiana is a “fault” state. In Indiana, the person who caused the accident is liable for injury and property damage costs. In certain situations, the fault is evident, such as when a driver collides with a parked car or rear-ends a vehicle stopped at a traffic signal.
  • Indiana follows modified comparative negligence. When more than one motorist is at fault for an accident in Indiana, insurance companies use a “modified comparative negligence” system to determine which drivers were liable and what percentage of fault each driver was responsible for. Modified comparative negligence is often called the “51 percent rule.” If a driver is 51 percent or more at fault in a collision, that driver cannot recover any damages.
  • Insurers may perform subrogation. If you aren’t at fault, you can submit a claim to the other driver’s auto insurer or your own auto insurance company. However, insurers can seek repayment from one another (called subrogation) if they paid for costs that should have been covered by someone else. For example, your own auto insurer may attempt to collect reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurer. Similarly, your medical insurance provider could seek subrogation for your accident-related treatment after you receive an auto insurance settlement.

Now that you understand the basics of car insurance coverage in Indiana, let’s explore when it’s appropriate to file a claim.

When Should I File a Car Insurance Claim?

  • Someone else is primarily at fault. Determining fault is important since it ultimately determines whose insurance covers the crash costs. If the other driver is 50 percent or more at fault for the accident, you should file your claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.
  • There is significant property damage. You will need to file a claim if your vehicle is a total loss after a crash or if you have sustained significant damage to your vehicle. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for repairs.
  • Someone is injured. If you’ve suffered an injury or injuries in the accident, you may be forced to take time off work, attend ongoing doctor’s appointments, and pay high medical costs. If you don’t file a claim, you will have to use your healthcare insurance or your own savings to pay for accident-related medical care.

Important Pre-Claim Steps After a Car Accident

Your insurance claim starts long before you file the paperwork. In fact, many of the crucial steps to getting compensation from an insurer happen in the moments after the crash. If you are involved in a traffic accident in Indiana, you should consider doing the following.

Call 911

In any traffic accident, the priority is to call 911 for emergency services. If nobody was injured in the collision, you should still call the police so they can investigate the scene and complete an accident report. In Indiana, if a traffic collision results in an injury, fatality, or damage to property exceeding $1,000, you must report the crash to the local police within ten days. But if you’ve been injured, don’t wait ten days—or ten minutes—to call the police. Make the call immediately after you’ve summoned medical help.

Exchange Information

You’ll have to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Be sure you get the driver’s name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, and license plate number. You will also need the name and contact information of their insurance company and, if possible, the driver’s policy number. If the other driver is incapacitated, ask the police to help you get the necessary information.

Document Everything

Try to document the accident scene as thoroughly and accurately as possible. Take photos or record a video of the damage to the vehicles, the position of the vehicles, road and weather conditions, and any nearby signs or important roadway features. If there are people nearby who saw the accident happen, gather the eyewitnesses’ names and contact information. Photos and eyewitness statements that verify your insurance claim can help you get a settlement. If your case later goes to trial, photographs and witness testimony can be powerfully persuasive.

Request a Police Report

Police officers are trained to investigate accidents thoroughly and impartially. Their reports aim to provide an accurate and objective account of what transpired, preventing discrepancies in the drivers’ recollection of events. This documentation helps insurers assess the circumstances of the incident to determine coverage and liability. Without a police report, insurers may have to rely solely on the accounts of the parties involved, causing disputes and delays in claims processing. Ask the officers how to obtain a copy of their report and when it will be available.

The Insurance Claims Process

Insurance companies have different filing deadlines. Some require filing within 30 days, while others will accept claims after a year or more from the date of the crash. Waiting too long to file can result in a technicality denial, so it’s always best to file your insurance claim as soon as you can.

The general steps of filing an insurance claim include:

  • Notify the insurer(s). Contact the insurance company once you have been released from the accident scene. Tell them the date and time of the crash and ask what information you’ll need to file your claim. Even if you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you may want to call your own insurance company to notify them of the accident.
  • Complete the claim form. Insurance claims require the names, vehicle descriptions, policy numbers, and information you gathered from the scene. If incapacitated, you can get the relevant details from the police report. Double-check that all numbers and spellings are accurate before sending your claim in. You can likely file an insurance claim online and check its progress with a mobile app, but some may require printing and mailing the official form.
  • Understand your insurance policy. Insurance claims are formal requests to your insurance company to provide payment for an event covered in your policy. It’s important that you know what’s covered (and what isn’t) and the dollar limit you can potentially collect for your losses. Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy to understand your rights and obligations. For example, will your premiums increase if you make a claim? Are you still entitled to a no-claims discount if you weren’t at fault for the car accident?
  • Get follow-up medical care. Prompt care after a crash is vital for insurance claims. It establishes a clear link between the crash and resulting injuries, facilitating smoother claims processing. Keep track of physician reports, doctors’ notes from work, and other crucial documentation of your accident-related injuries. Attending your ongoing medical appointments shows that you’re doing everything possible to recover, lessening the likelihood of disputes or denial of coverage.
  • Be careful when talking to insurance agents. After you file, a claims adjuster assigned to your case will examine the evidence to determine which driver was at fault. They may call you to get more information or clarify details. Be warned—an adjuster’s job is to save the company money. You may have to speak with the insurance agents several times or even meet face-to-face. Anything you share with insurance company agents can be used to devalue your claim. Be honest, but don’t offer more information than is needed.
  • Wait for compensation. Once you reach an agreement with the insurer, ask how you will be paid and when you can expect payment. Most policyholders will receive a check in the mail, although some insurers offer direct deposit. Keep in mind that your insurer might increase your premiums even if your claim is approved.

What If My Claim Is Denied?

Submitting your auto insurance claim is the first step in a long process. If the insurance company isn’t reasonable and does not settle with you quickly and fairly, you have a few options:

  • Contact the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI). If you believe your insurance company is violating state regulations or acting in bad faith, you could file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance. They have the power to investigate your complaint and take appropriate action if necessary.
  • Consider mediation. If your insurer proposes a settlement amount that is too low, you may need to negotiate. If you’re unable to reach a resolution with your insurance company directly, consider seeking mediation through a neutral third party. Mediation can often help facilitate communication and lead to a mutually acceptable agreement.
  • Seek a lawyer’s help. If the auto insurer continues to deny your claim after your good faith efforts, consider seeking legal advice from a lawyer familiar with insurance disputes in injury cases. You could be able to collect payment from more than one type of insurance. If necessary, an attorney can advise you on your rights and advocate for you in negotiations or legal proceedings.

Get Help Filing an Insurance Claim

As you can see, there are many hurdles to overcome before car crash victims receive compensation. If your injuries are severe, it’s best to let an experienced personal injury attorney handle your claim and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Your health and your future are too important to risk!

Our legal team can listen to your story and explain whether you can or should pursue a personal injury lawsuit. If so, we can step in and take over legal matters while you heal, working to obtain complete compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Contact Tuley Law Office today to schedule a free consultation.

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