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Posted in Car Accidents on September 29, 2022   |  by Gary Burger

How to File a Car Insurance Claim

How to File a Car Insurance Claim. Car insurance companies estimate the average driver will be in about four car accidents in their lifetime, or about once every 18 years. Given the time between accidents, or if you've just been in your first accident, you may not remember or know how to file a claim with an insurance company. Below, you'll find Burger Law's step-by-step guide to filing a car insurance claim. If you were injured in your accident and want to know how to go about seeking compensation, call Burger Law today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online for a free consultation. We are based in St. Louis and Chicago, and serve the injured throughout Missouri and Illinois.

If a negligent driver injured you in Missouri or Illinois, see how much your claim may be worth by using our free personal injury calculator.

What to Do Immediately After the Accident

When you're in an accident, it's important to remain calm. Pull over to a safe space on the side of the road and speak with the other driver. Without being confrontational, ask for their insurance information and contact information.

Next, call the police to come and file a police report. Police are trained to determine liability in car accidents, and their report will be central to proving the liability of the other driver. Additionally, both Missouri and Illinois require you to report an accident if:

  • One of the parties was uninsured
  • The injury resulted in bodily injury or death
  • The property damage exceeded a certain amount ($500 in Missouri; $1,500 in Illinois)

In Illinois, you have 10 days after the accident to report the crash to the Illinois Department of Transportation. In Missouri, you have 30 days to report the accident to the Missouri Department of Revenue.

You should also take photos of both cars and the surrounding road. If you were injured, seek medical treatment as soon as possible, even if you do not believe your injuries to be serious.

Steps to Filing a Car Insurance Claim

Below is a step-by-step guide to filing your car insurance claim and getting compensation for your damages:

  • Call your car insurance company as soon as possible — Even if the other driver was at fault, you should notify your own insurance of the accident. If the other driver was uninsured or underinsured, you would be relying on your own insurance company to compensate you.
  • Get your documents in order — You can obtain your crash report from the Missouri Highway State Patrol or the Illinois State Patrol. Collect all the pictures you have of the crash, and organize any medical bills and medical records if you were injured.
  • File your claim with the at-fault driver's insurance — You do not have to be too specific about the accident. Insurance adjusters will try to use your words against you to avoid paying you, even if you were just being honest and the accident wasn't your fault. Each insurance company has its own specifications for what they need, so look on their website to see what they need and where you should send it. In addition to the above documentation, you generally need to include:
    • The date of the accident
    • The location of the accident
    • Your name and the at-fault driver's name
    • The at-fault driver's policy number
  • Wait for an insurance adjuster to contact you — Their first settlement offer will often be low, especially if you were injured. When they call you, be clear that the other driver was at fault and be direct about your injuries, but don't go into too much detail. It can be difficult to deal with an insurance company after an accident, and insurance adjusters use a lot of tricks to devalue your claim.
  • Speak to an attorney if the insurance adjuster isn't being fair — Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so there's no harm in calling to see if you're really getting a fair settlement offer. If their offer is far below the full compensation you deserve, it would likely be worth it to hire a lawyer.

What if the At-Fault Driver Wasn't Insured?

If the other driver didn't have insurance, or you were injured in a hit-and-run accident, you should still follow the same steps, but instead you'll be dealing with your own insurance company. Unfortunately, the fact that you've been paying into their insurance for years doesn't mean they'll be any more willing to give you fair compensation.

Contact a Missouri and Illinois Auto Accident Law Firm if You Were Injured in a Crash

For crashes with minor damage, or when your injuries aren't severe and don't require much medical treatment, you might be able to get fair compensation after some brief negotiations with the insurance adjuster. Unfortunately, it's much more difficult if your injuries require ongoing physical therapy, chiropractic care or other treatments, or if the insurance company won't admit their driver did anything wrong. Always reach out to an attorney at the first sign that the insurance company doesn't want to be fair. We answer questions and review cases for free, and are committed to getting our clients the best possible results in their cases. You don't pay unless we win. Speak to a car accident attorney today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online.