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Filing a Personal Injury Claim with Your Own Insurance Company

When you are involved in an auto accident, you will usually file your personal injury claim with the insurance company of the party at fault. However, there can be four instances when you may have to file a first party claim with your own insurance company.

1) No-Fault Coverage

When you carry PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance or you live in a no-fault state, the question of negligence or proving fault becomes irrelevant. However, keep in mind that your first party claims are limited to the coverage you have taken.

2) Uninsured or Underinsured At-Fault Driver

If the driver at fault does not carry any insurance or is underinsured, and you have taken a policy that includes coverage for these two items, then you will be filing first party claim from your insurance company.

Do not worry, there is still a chance you can obtain funds from this other party by suing them. They may not be able to afford insurance (or they just do not care that they are thwarting the law) but if they can afford a car, they are not that broke. Either way, they need to be hit financially hard for driving uninsured and driving sloppy.

3) Other Passengers in Your Car Seeking Damages 

When there are other passengers in your car during an accident, and they seek damages from your insurance company.

4) Need for Funds

After the accident, you may need funds immediately to meet medical costs and you are unable to wait for the insurance company of the at-fault driver to complete their investigation and finalize your claim.

First party claim means a person filing a claim with his own insurance company, which is different from a third-party claim, where the person files a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. To begin the process of first party claim, you need to call your insurance company as soon as possible informing them of the accident. You will be given a claim number, which will be proof of you having filed the claim, along with the date and time. The rest of the procedure will be almost the same, where you are assigned an adjuster, who will get in touch with you after a few days.
The Effect of Prior Injuries on Your Present Personal Injury Claim

Your prior injuries can affect your present injury claim, as insurance companies are constantly on the lookout for reasons to deny or substantially reduce your settlement amount. The insurance company will try to say that what you claim as your new injuries are your old injuries or an aggravation of your prior injuries. Hence, the money they offer as settlement will be minimal.

Your Right to Fight

However, you do not have to accept what the insurance company says, as you are entitled to fair compensation, whether your injuries are new, or it is aggravation of prior injuries. Since the insurance company is likely to use your prior injuries as an excuse to lower your settlement, you need to have proper proof to show your present injuries are new or that your prior injuries have got aggravated due to the accident. The best proof you can produce during negotiations is your medical records, and when you have suffered prior injuries, you will need all the medical records of these injuries, plus the records showing present injuries.

Medical Support in More Ways than One

For proving your present injuries are new and not an aggravation of your prior injuries, you will need the help of your doctor, who can provide a written narrative of diagnosis and prognosis of your different injuries. The narrative of your doctor will be vital for showing where you prior injuries have ended and your new injuries have begun.

Doctor Cooperation

Before obtaining the narrative, tell your doctor what you are trying to prove, so that your doctor can focus on such details. It will be difficult for the adjuster to ignore a professional’s medical opinion, especially when it is supported by diagnostic test reports, X-rays, and scans.

Since it is possible for new injuries to overlap with prior injuries, it is best to make a full disclosure of your prior injuries, as the adjuster will eventually find this out, and if you come clean in the beginning, you have better chances of obtaining a fair settlement.
Improving Negotiation Tactics for a Personal Injury Settlement

When liability of the insured can be established clearly, and you have proper evidence for your personal injury claim, then you should get a fair settlement amount. However, this is not always the case, as the adjuster will be employing various tactics to downplay your evidence and reduce the settlement amount. Therefore, in such instances, it usually boils down to negotiating skills of your lawyer in negotiating a proper settlement.   

You need to help your attorney in this regard. The better you do in helping your attorney the more confident they feel in defending you and battling against the opposition. If they need you to help them gather information which they will, you should work with your attorney every step of the way. You hired them to represent you and they can only do this in the most effective manner if you cooperate with their agenda.


Your attorney has been through this before. Have you? Your attorney has a case like this every week perhaps, they know the routine and they know how to obtain the highest financial amount possible. Remember, the better they do, the better you do.

Your Attorney’s Mindset

A marvelous and focused personal injury lawyer will focus and learn in detail about the client’s injuries, the recovery period, and the possibilities of future side effects and disabilities due to the injuries. Such an attorney will also have good knowledge about medical procedures and terminology. Each personal injury claim is unique because the range of pain and suffering experienced for different injuries is different.

The Adjuster’s Objective

Therefore, each claim is negotiated separately on its own merits. When the attorney is knowledgeable about all aspects of the injury and the possible effects in future, he is in a much better position to put forth the case accurately and negotiate a fair settlement amount. The adjuster will not be able to deceive the lawyer or trivialize the seriousness of the injuries.

The adjuster will be able to do this if you have not provided all the germane information to your attorney. You do not want to hurt someone who is only trying to help you. Remember, you need this money actually more than your lawyer. If you form a bond with your lawyer, the adjuster will not be able to break it.

Therefore, having some medical knowledge about your injuries is very helpful during negotiations. There are many online resources such as Mayo Clinic and Web MD, where you will be able to gather medical data and the possible short and long-term effects of your injuries.

Tell the Truth

When you are armed with authentic knowledge, you can easily put forward a persuasive argument that will be difficult for the adjuster to dismiss. However, insurance companies invest a lot of money in hiring medical professionals who are able to provide expert testimony. Hence, make sure that whatever points you put forth to the adjuster are not likely to be disproved by expert testimony in court.
How to Take Photos at the Accident Scene

Immediately after the accident, you should call 911, report the accident, and seek medical attention. While you wait for the police to arrive and you feel okay, you can take photos of the accident scene, as they will provide valuable evidence during your claim settlement process. Most of the mobile phones now have fantastic cameras, but it is always better to have a digital camera, so that you are able to take clearer photos and also stamp them with the date and time.

Know How to Use Your Gadget

Most likely you have one and in fact, many smart phones take pictures that are as good as many basic digital cameras. You do not have to be a photographer to some decent pictures of the area, type of day, other party, and the people who saw it. If you can take pictures of your cat taking a nap on a couch, you can take pictures of your wreck. If you do not know how to use the camera function on your phone, find someone who can help you out.

Addition to Your Word

The police will be in a hurry to clear the accident scene as soon as possible, and hence, you will have a short time to click photos that can prove negligence of the other driver or shows the cause of the accident. The photos taken by you of the accident scene should be able tell how the accident took place, and the damage that was the direct result of the accident. These photos will serve as graphic evidence of personal injuries and the property damage that took place.

First, you need to take overall photos of the entire accident scene. Here you need to take wider shots from different angles, and do not be worried about capturing details yet. These photos will form the stage on which detailed photos that you click later will have more meaning. Next, take photos of the stop signs and traffic lights, which can be tied in later to prove the fault of the other driver.

Take Plenty of Pictures

Now, start clicking all the vehicles involved in the accident. These photos should be able to show the proximity of the vehicles to each other and their distance from the main accident spot. Always try to include reference points in the backdrop of your photos, which will provide a better perspective. Lastly, take detailed photos of the damage done to your car and other vehicles involved in the accident. You should also photograph objects that were damaged in the vicinity.
How to Collect Witness Statements at the Accident Scene

Statements provided by witnesses at the sight of the accident can be used as strong evidence while proving fault of the other driver. Since these witnesses are a third party, their statements are unbiased and independent, and therefore carry more weight. Immediately after the accident, the scene will be quite chaotic, and talking to strangers will be the last thought on your mind. However, if you are feeling all right and are able to move about, you should try taking witness statements, as they will be valuable evidence in your claims process as well.

Plausible Witnesses

The possible eyewitnesses of an automobile accident usually include, drivers and passengers of other cars not involved in the accident, people who are rendering aid to the injured, people staffing shops or other establishments nearby, people walking on the pavement, and utility or road construction workers.

Be Personable (Let them Speak)

Approach the people whom you feel would have witnessed the accident, identify yourself, and inquire politely what they saw. One important thing to keep in mind is to never argue with they are telling you, or try to coax them into telling something different. Do not start your conversation with leading statements like “you saw him speeding, didn’t you?” and so on. You will be alienating witnesses if you are pushy or start arguing with them.

Take a Picture

Witness statements are not formal legal documents, and you can write them in whatever style you want. The witnesses themselves can write what they saw, if you are unable to write. The witness statement does not have to be witnessed by another person or notarized, but make sure the witness signs at the end of the page mentioning the date and time, along with full contact details. It would be ideal to take a photo of the witness holding this statement page.
Determining Liability in Multi-Vehicle Accident

A multi-vehicle accident is often called a pile-up, and it is a major accident where the insurance companies are faced with high payouts. Such accidents mainly occur on high-speed roadways, and normally involve four or more vehicles. Apart from high-speed roads, multi vehicle accidents can also occur at slower speeds at intersections. Since the payouts are huge, insurance companies assign the case to highly trained accident investigators, who are capable of finding out the underlying cause of the accident and driver/s responsible for the pile up.

Determining fault in a pile up is a very complex process, since the investigators have to identify the negligent act amongst multiple drivers. Several aspects are considered including:

     Drivers who were driving above the speed limit
     Which drivers were following too closely to the vehicle in front
     Which drivers were driving under the influence or were distracted by talking on a cell phone or other distractions
     Were there any mitigating circumstances such as bad weather, poor roads and so on
     Was more than one driver negligent
     Did any of the drivers violate any traffic rules

Usually for determining fault, the investigation team will:

§    Speak with the investigating police officers and review the police reports. The team will mainly look for any citations given by the police for traffic or other violations.
§    Carry out interviews with the involved drivers, passengers of those cars, and also interview witnesses
§    Take photographs of the accident scene, focusing on the vehicles, skid marks, and damaged objects in the vicinity.
§    Review the driving records of the drivers involved in the pile up, and look for prior tickets, accidents, and arrests.

By the Numbers

Since most states follow the rule of comparative negligence, liability can be spread amongst several vehicles involved in the accident, and each driver can receive compensation based on his percentage of fault.

This is why you are not supposed to tail gate. This means you are driving too close to the car in front of you. There are certain distances you are supposed to drive in relation to the speed you are moving at. To most people this is pretty much common sense but some people are just aggressive and rude. These same types of people could be road way bullies as well hoping to compel you to move out of the way so they can speed on by.

Aggressive Driving

These rude tail gaters can easily be the perpetrator of a large wreck because if some tule fog roles in, there is some debris on the road, if the front driver has to slow down quickly because of traffic concerns, the tail gater behind this person will rear end them and this could cause a large accident if some cars behind the tail gater join this collision. This does not happen all the time but it does happen nonetheless. Hopefully this tail gater can be found to be most at fault.

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Our office will handle the entire process and negotiate with the
 adjuster  to get you compensated for your injuries. If property
   damage, workers' compensation or social security disability
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 Will the person who caused my injury be punished?

Not in the traditional sense of the word. Defendants in civil actions for personal injury do not receive jail terms or criminal fines as punishment. Those are criminal sentences, and personal injury cases are civil actions. However, in some cases, juries and courts can award what are called “punitive damages,” which are designed to punish defendants who have behaved recklessly or intentionally against the public's interest. The goal in ordering the payment of punitive damages is to discourage such defendants and others from engaging in the same kind of harmful behavior in the future.

 When will I get my settlement?

A personal injury lawsuit can average 2 to 3 years, but keep in mind that each case is unique, therefore one cannot predict the amount of time needed to bring you your settlement. Just keep moving forward in your lawsuit and make sure that your lawyers and their staff are getting the job done.

 What if a person dies before bringing a personal injury lawsuit?

It depends on whether the person died as a result of injuries from the accident or from unrelated causes. If a person injured in an accident subsequently dies because of those injuries, that person's heirs may recover money through a lawsuit known as a wrongful death action. Also, even if a person with a personal injury claim dies from unrelated causes, the personal injury claim survives in most cases and may be brought by the executor or personal representative of the deceased person's estate.

 What should I bring with me for my meeting with a lawyer?

You should provide a lawyer with any documents that might be relevant to your case. Police reports, for example, contain eyewitness information and details about the conditions surrounding auto accidents, fires, and assaults. Copies of medical reports and bills from doctors and hospitals will help demonstrate the extent and nature of your injuries. Information about the insurer of the person who caused your injury is extremely helpful, as are any photographs you have of the accident scene, your property damage, and your injury. The more information you are able to give your lawyer, the easier it will be for him or her to determine if your claim will be successful. If you haven't collected any documents at the time of your first meeting, however, don't worry; your lawyer will be able to obtain them in his investigation of your claim.

 How soon after I am injured do I have to file a lawsuit?

Every state has certain time limits, called "statutes of limitations," which govern the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. In some states, you may have as little as one year to file a lawsuit arising out of an automobile accident. If you miss the deadline for filing your case, you may lose your legal right to damages for your injury. Consequently, it is important to talk with a lawyer as soon as you suffer or discover an injury.

 What is “negligence"?

The critical issue in many personal injury cases is just how a "reasonable person" was expected to act in the particular situation that caused the injury. A person is negligent when he or she fails to act like an "ordinary reasonable person" would have acted. The determination of whether a given person has met the "ordinary reasonable person" standard is often a matter that is resolved by a jury after presentation of evidence and argument at trial.

 How do I know if I have a personal injury case?

First, you must have suffered an injury to your person or property. Second, you should consider whether your injury was someone else's fault. It is not always necessary to have a physical injury to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Some personal injury claims could be based on a variety of nonphysical losses and harms. In the case of an assault, for example, you do not need to show that a person's action caused you actual physical harm, but only that you expected some harm to come to you. You also may have a case if someone has attacked your reputation, invaded your privacy, or inflicted emotional distress upon you.

 Why use a personal injury lawyer?

When you are hurt in a wreck, you have lost more than the cost of your medical expenses. Injuries affect your work, your leisure and your family. In other words, injuries can affect your whole life. It is important for you to obtain fair and reasonal compensation for the damage to your life which is caused by a personal injury.

Personal injury lawyers understand how injuries impact your life. Personal injury lawyers help you to understand the law concerning personal injury damages and they help to negotiate a reasonable settlement with insurance companies. If the insurance companies will not be reasonalbe, then personal injury attorneys help you tell your story to a jury so the jury will be able to provide reasonable compensation.

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