In Jim Henson’s whimsically rendered (and uncannily dark) Wizard of Oz analogue—a cult favorite known as Labyrinth—and its inspiration, a young girl travels through a strange land in an alternate dimension to find someone. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy seeks the Wizard so that he can tell her how to get home. She is hunted by the Wicked Witch of the West, but her task is simple: she needs only to follow the yellow-brick road aided by friends she makes along the way. In Labyrinth, the course isn’t so clear: Sarah has to find her way through a labyrinth (as the title suggests), her friends are occasionally traitorous (or a liability), and her adversary is an omnipresent goblin king who has stolen her baby brother and donned inappropriate tights. Sarah often doesn’t know who to trust or which direction to turn.

The process of filing an insurance claim more closely resembles Labyrinth than The Wizard of Oz: The requirements are complicated, you can’t know for certain where loyalties lie, and you may need to turn over so much personal information that you feel like you’re being watched by David Bowie in thick eye makeup.  Fortunately, there are ways of escaping the pitfalls of insurance claims, and those ways are outlined in this article.

1.  Breaking the News to the At-Fault Party

The sense of urgency that accompanies a serious injury is not always enough incentive to surmount the humongous obstacle of hinting to someone that you may hold him responsible for an accident. However, this anxiety is misplaced: all you really need to do is tell the person that you’ll be filing a claim, which is standard procedure. Whether you mean to leave the other person’s insurance company out of it entirely or sue him for his spleen (don’t do that), that’s all you have to say.  In all likelihood, your future interaction will be insurer-to-insurer, and any awkwardness will be between you and some insurance agent who isn’t emotionally entangled in the accident. Either way, a dislike of confrontations should never prevent you from seeking the help you need.

2.  Nailing Down the Narrative

It isn’t easy to get your details straight as the world falls down, but filling out an accurate accident report and making a statement for your insurance claim depend on it. The amount you are awarded depends on your comparative fault, and this will be determined by the information you, the other driver(s), and any witnesses record. You probably won’t have a difficult time recalling what happened while filling out an accident report on the spot (although there are right and wrong ways to record that information), but knowing what to include in a formal statement after the fact may starve and near-exhaust you. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that mystifying: a few simple strategies for remembering details and relating them correctly can be found here.

3.  Sorting Through the Forms

In some ways, the red tape that all but strangles many claims is a necessary precaution to certify that all bases have been covered before a case can proceed.  However, some unscrupulous companies use it as a series of riddles to avoid paying into just claims. Whether this is the case or not, you will probably end up filling out a lot of paperwork. On the other hand, if you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, even as the stack rises, you may be right to wonder. In the worst cases, the claimant is dallied with while important deadlines pass, lowering or eliminating his chances for compensation. This is why it is recommended that personal injury attorneys be retained for high-cost claims: if you’re doing a mountain of unnecessary work with no hope of a payoff, a personal injury attorney will know.

4.  Interacting with Insurance Agents

Many people enjoy meeting with their insurance agents. They’re friendly, attentive, and may even remember to ask about your kid’s ladybug-themed birthday party. Part of being a competent insurance agent involves putting the client at ease and making her feel like she is in good hands. Alas, this doesn’t always indicate genuine personal care—the agent might just be an exceptional employee. To put it bluntly, when you’re asking for money, you can’t take anything for granted. As reluctant as you may be to pester or question the motives of such a nice person, it is a right that you may well need to exercise. You might contact your state’s insurance office if you are concerned with delays. Alternately, when stakes are highest, this is another area in which a personal injury attorney comes in handy:  He can tell you whether the agent you’re interacting with is acting as a pair of helping hands or a set of grasping fingers.

5.  Negotiating a Settlement

While most people prefer to settle cases quickly and cleanly, the process to a mutually satisfying end is not always swell. There may come a point when walking the line between asserting your rights and angering the other side more closely resembles a magic dance than simple perambulation. It can quickly become frustrating to deal with people who seem unwilling to take responsibility for the effects of their actions on you. Hiring a personal injury attorney spares you some distasteful interaction with people who are probably irritating you to the very core and increases your chances of prompt and adequate compensation (since the attorney is more likely know what you have legal claim on and how to support that claim).

The hassle of an insurance claim doesn’t need to follow you around like some eternal stench. When you s
uspect that your claim has hit a snag, or a patently just claim is unjustly denied, a free initial consultation with Utah’s best personal injury attorneys, Christensen & Hymas may clear up your confusion. In any claim, time is of the essence so don’t wait to be called.  Just knock, and the door will open.

Photo copy right of LoggaWiggler

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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