Understanding Car Insurance Claims in Phoenix, Arizona
Making a personal injury claim to an insurance company can feel overwhelming. You have to work with insurance companies, adjusters, lawyers, and law enforcement officers while grappling with personal injuries and missing work. With these tips, you can make your Arizona car insurance claim a smooth and stress-free process.
How to File a Car Insurance Claim in Arizona
Understand the Insurance Coverage
All drivers in Arizona must carry car insurance. People should understand their policy before driving, but if you don’t, now is the time to review it. The state requires the following liability insurance minimums:
- Bodily harm: $15,000 per person
- Bodily harm with multiple injured people: $30,000 per accident
- Property damage: $10,000
Car insurance contains multiple components, with each part covering people for different potential damages. For instance, collision coverage pays for vehicle damage related to the accident. Someone cannot use their collision coverage to pay for medical bills.
Collect On-Site Evidence
Collecting evidence at the accident scene makes a world of difference during the claims process. People who do not require medical attention should take photos and videos as proof of damages. Some of the items to record include:
- Bodily harm or injuries
- Damage to vehicles
- Property damage
- Skid marks
- The other driver’s name, address, and driver’s license number
- The other car’s make, model, and color
- The weather
The more high-quality evidence, the harder it is for an insurance company to reject the claim. Additional resources include talking to eyewitnesses and recovering video footage. Law enforcement officers will file a formal accident report of the incident if it involves an injury, death, or property damage greater than $1,000.
Collect Off-Site Evidence
Car accidents don’t start and stop in one location. The damages and injuries cause a ripple effect that reverberates through a victim’s life. A severe car accident can leave people with physical and emotional pain that lasts weeks, months, or years.
Medical bills, rehabilitation, medication, and therapy can bolster an Arizona car insurance claim. Any bills with tangible amounts – such as a $500 bill to repair a bumper – are considered special damages, while intangible injuries – like emotional distress – do not have dollar values and are considered general damages. An insurance company will compensate victims for both types of damages.
What to Avoid When Filing a Claim
The most significant error people make when filing a claim is admitting fault. Arizona is an at-fault state, so the driver responsible for the accident must pay a majority of the damages. Even the government website advises people to stay silent when discussing fault with the other party or insurance company.
Admitting fault is likely to preclude the inured person from recovering compensation for their damages. It also opens up the possibility of a lawsuit from the other party.
Navigating the Arizona car insurance claims process involves patience and attention to detail. For instance, people shouldn’t sign any releases or waivers unless they understand the documents or have legal guidance. The same applies when giving a recorded statement to the insurance company.
Remember that insurance companies make money by receiving premiums and minimizing payouts. Insurance providers do everything they possibly can to reduce the amount they pay injured victims. For example, while it’s tempting to take the first settlement offer from the insurance company, the first offer is usually very low and does not adequately represent an injured person’s damages.
Keep an eye on the statute of limitations, which expires two years after the accident under §12-542. After two years, the court will preclude injured persons from making a claim and receiving compensation. Anyone that plans to file a claim should get a personal injury lawyer involved early to avoid traps like the statute of limitations.
Determine Whether You Have a Valid Car Accident Claim in Arizona
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of insurance claims in Arizona. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), nearly 130,000 people suffered a vehicular accident in 2019. That figure includes 36,926 injuries and 911 fatalities.
If you suffer bodily injury or emotional distress due to a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Reach out to a local personal injury lawyer to discuss if you have a claim. If so, they can assist you through the claims process.