When Should the Victim of an Automobile Accident File an Insurance Claim?

When Should the Victim of an Automobile Accident File an Insurance Claim?

  Victims of automobile accidents should file claims with their insurance providers as soon as possible following any collision, but the real questions to have answered are:

  • Whose insurance carrier is responsible?
  • Is there even any insurance coverage available?
Virginia is one of only two states in the country that does not require automobile owners to carry liability insurance. State law provides drivers with an option to pay an annual $500 fee in lieu of liability coverage. Virginia also has a fault-based system, which places the responsibility for compensating all accident victims on the at-fault driver.

Who Do You Call for Answers?

Don’t let poor timing and insufficient planning lead to collateral damage. Not following protocol can negatively impact any financial recovery to which you may otherwise be entitled.

Immediately after the incident:

  • Call 9-1-1 to report the incident and request medical assistance, if needed. Don’t be tempted to skip this important step. State law mandates that accidents with any injuries that cost more than $1,000 must be reported to law enforcement.
  • Contact your insurance company to notify it of the incident. Check your policy; in the majority of cases, notification is a requirement of the insurance carrier.

As soon as possible after the accident:

  • Call your personal physician and schedule a post-accident evaluation for any potential late-effect injuries.
  • Call for a copy of the police report.
  • Contact Emroch & Kilduff to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.
State law can be confusing, determining liability may not be straightforward, and insurance adjusters often attempt to make their opinions sound like fact. They are notorious adversaries, and their singular focus is to discredit your claim and minimize any financial payout. It is not unusual for insurance adjusters to show up at the scene of an accident in an effort to get a verbal or written statement. Seek legal counsel before you sign any document or give a statement to anyone except a law enforcement official. The bottom line is that obtaining compensation for the full cost of your injuries and property damage will require in-depth investigation and a thorough knowledge of insurance company tactics.

You Have Options

Financial reimbursement can come from many different sources, including:
  • Your auto insurance liability policy
  • Your personal uninsured/underinsured policy
  • Any additional special coverage amendments to your policy, such as medical payment benefits
  • Insurance benefits available from the at-fault driver
  • A third party that may be held legally responsible
  • The at-fault driver’s personal assets
While you have two years from the date of the collision to file a claim against the negligent person for injuries, and five years to file for property damages, an insurance claim usually needs to be initiated within 24 hours following an accident. If you have legal representation, insurance adjusters are obliged to deal directly with your attorney.

You Also Have Rights

You have the right to competent legal representation, and you have the right to expect an insurance company to honor its contractual obligations and responsibilities. If you have been injured, you have a right to be made whole. Explore your legal options. Call Emroch & Kilduff today at (804) 358-1568, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation.

William B. Kilduff


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If you have been injured because of someone elses negligence, contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers for a free consultation. For your convenience, Emroch & Kilduff has two office locations in Virginia: Richmond and Tappahannock.

Contact our offices today online or by calling (804) 358-1568 to schedule a free consultation, discuss the details of your injury, and determine the best path forward given your individual circumstances.

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