Even to the most careful of us, accidents do happen. An accident leaves you in shock, enraged at the driver that ran the red light, or worse, with some injuries. Keeping a cool head is vital after an accident. It helps you follow the post-accident process more accurately and thoroughly. We’ve prepared tips that will make it easier for you to navigate the process.
Check for Injuries
This is the first important thing to do after an accident. Immediately, determine whether you or the other party is injured. Call the police and 911 to get an emergency response if there are injuries. Consider calling a law enforcement officer even if it’s a minor accident. They help in preparing an official report you could use in seeking compensation.
Move to Safety
Get the car off the main road or shoulder it off to avoid causing any traffic or getting hit by approaching cars. Have the reflective lights and emergency triangles set up to warn approaching vehicles. Move to safer areas if there is any danger of explosion.
Exchange Vital Information
State laws are different on the information that is expected to be exchanged at the scene. But in almost all states, you’re required to provide your insurance information alongside your name to the other party. This is the perfect moment to contact your car accident attorney to prevent further contradictions. While exchanging information with the other driver is important, remember to keep it at a minimum to avoid giving out information that might be twisted against you.
But still, get information especially:
- Insurance information and name of the other party
- Photos of the scene
- Witness statement and their contact information
- Contact of the other driver – if they’re willing
- Police report
- Officer’s number and their contact
There are smartphone apps to help document the scene but even making notes on a piece of paper could capture vital details.
Determine the Insurance Coverage to Apply
Insurance claims largely depend on the at-fault driver and the types of coverage both drivers have. And, this is especially a tricky process. Legal experts from KerleySchaffer.com advise that you get an attorney to help you navigate the details. If the other driver was responsible then the claim would cover:
- The expenses for you and your passengers’
- Damage to your vehicle through the other driver’s liability coverage
- All the medical bills up to the limit of the at-fault driver’s limit of bodily injury coverage
Should the other driver have no insurance, California State has the uninsured coverages that will pay out the claims.
Decide on Filing a Claim
Most drivers avoid the hassle of dealing with insurance by paying cash for the repairs especially if the damages were minor. But, what appears minor on-scene might set you back a few thousand dollars a few months down the line. Or, you might end up using your insurance upfront while it’s the other driver that was at-fault.
Here is how to go about filing a claim:
- Have a claim filed with your insurance company. You will have to pay a deductible that might be refunded from the other driver’s insurance.
- The at-fault driver’s insurance investigates the accident to estimate the damages and the repair costs
- The insurance company will cover your medical costs and those of your passengers up to the liability limits of the at-fault driver. In the case where you had catered for some medical bills, they will reimburse.
- And, if their limit is not enough to meet the bills then your collision coverage could come in handy. You have it, and even most uninsured motorist coverage does. With both, deductibles apply.
Shop for Lower Rates
After an accident, your premiums could shoot up significantly in some cases going up by 50% or more. This depends on the accident severity and your insurer. Sometimes accidents can leave your car totaled. If you are the at-fault driver, some companies will offer accident forgiveness but generally, most accidents result in higher premiums. The Consumer Federation of America report suggested that some insurance companies will raise the premiums but up to 10% even when you weren’t responsible for the accident. Yet, policies should levy a rate hike only when the driver is at fault. Also, the time that the accident happened might affect your premiums.
Be sure to walk through these details and shop for lower rates if need be. It is relieving to survive a car accident. It is the first victory. But, the post-accident process is where more victory is if you handle it thoroughly. Be focused on the business both at the scene and when filing a claim with the insurance. Be sure to get an experienced attorney on your side to fight for you.