A car hits you from behind as you sit at a red light and now you’re standing on a street corner wondering what to do next. The accident was clearly not your fault, but you still have work to do. Follow these steps to make sure that your car repairs and medical bills are covered in the wake of a crash.
Collect Information from the Other Driver
As soon as you determine that no one is seriously injured and in need of immediate medical attention, swap information with the other driver. You should gather their name, contact information, insurance provider, and policy information.
While you are on the scene, use this time to collect evidence that you can use for your claim. Take photos of the scene and talk to witnesses who saw the accident. You can ask for their contact information as well if you think their statements can help your case. Many people are eager to move away from an accident and continue on with their days, so make sure you talk to witnesses quickly before they leave. If you do not have a chance to talk to them, snap a picture of a witnesses’ license plate. We may be able to track them down that way.
Call the Police and Ask Them to Make a Report and Confirm Who is At Fault
Some drivers don’t want to involve the police in minor accidents because the issue isn’t life-threatening. However, it is still important to notify the authorities so they can document the accident. Call the non-emergency police number if no one is seriously injured and ask them to dispatch an officer. They will be able to determine fault and issue a ticket. This way, if the driver tries to deny fault in the future, you have official documentation of what the authorities decided. Many insurance carriers claim to require a police report to pay a claim.
Notify the Other Driver’s Insurer
In the event of a minor accident, the at-fault driver might not want to contact their insurance company. They might try to convince you to settle the costs outside of the insurance companies so their rates aren’t raised. However, this means you might not get the full amount you need, or the driver might not respond to your calls or emails when your bill is paid. Worse yet, when you leave and the adrenaline wears off, you feel pain and find out you have been experiencing what the army refers to as “walking wounded” in which you do not know you have been injured until later.
After an accident, contact the driver’s insurance company and let them know that the driver was at-fault in the crash. The insurer might already have a claim open, or this might be news to them. This allows you to officially start the claims process so your repairs and bills are covered.
Document the Repairs and Medical Recovery Process
As you seek medical attention for any injuries and send your car in for repairs, document the process. Save your bills and quotes from various mechanics and medical providers. You should also make note of any additional costs that you have as a result of the accident. Did you need a rental car while yours was being repaired? Have to hire a lawn service? Save the receipts. Did you have to miss work to see a doctor? Save the emails with your manager and the lost wages because of the unexpected time off.
Review Your Options With Your Insurance Company
If the other driver’s insurance provider isn’t willing to cover your costs, or if the driver doesn’t have insurance, contact your insurance company. Your accident coverage will likely cover costs for uninsured drivers, so you don’t have to pay because of the driver’s irresponsibility. Your insurance company might also decide to contact the other driver’s provider to make sure that you are covered.
Insurance carriers often try to get you to give a recorded statement right away before you speak to an attorney or before your adrenaline wears off and you start feeling the pain. These are often used against you later not only in terms of what you say but even what you don’t. It is best to get an attorney to tell you when you have to and when you don’t have to give a recorded statement. When you do have to give one to get insurance coverage, of course, it is best to have your attorney present.
Contact An Attorney to Review Your Accident Claim
However, this list is not everything. There is much more that can often be done to help your case when an accident isn’t your fault. Don’t wait until you feel like you are a ping-pong ball between insurance providers and can’t get anywhere. Contact an attorney. You can hand off much of that headache to a professional who is used to dealing with difficult insurance providers. They can give you advice on how to move forward and work with you until the dispute is settled or prepare it properly for litigation.
Herman and Wells specialize in insurance claims and disputes. We have worked with insurers across the country to resolve claims and make sure our clients receive the compensation they need. If you have hit a wall with your insurance provider, schedule a free consultation with our team and let us fight for you.