Car accidents are different in degree of intensity. Some of them are minor fender benders while others end with the automobile being totally wrecked. In any event it is something nobody plans. You may be a little bit shocked by what has happened but you have to have your wits about you. There are number of things that you should do after your car has been in an accident.
1. Do not leave the Scene of the Accident Immediately. A police report would have to be filled out. If you leave the scene of an accident the other driver may accuse you of being the cause. You want to be there to tell your side of the story to the police officer. While you are waiting for the police, you should exchange information with the other parties. That would include driver’s license, license plate numbers, and contact information. The contact information should also be obtained from any passengers. Talk to any witnesses and request their contact information.
2. Call the Police. This is critical in the event there is any significant property damage or physical injury. A police report will be prepared and you should ask for a copy of it.
3. Take Pictures and Get Names of any Witnesses. This is not just for the police report. It is also for your insurance company. The insurer needs to know what the damage was in order to determine whether or not there is coverage.
4. Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company. They need to know about the accident. What is important is that you are as transparent as possible with them. Do not lie to the insurance company. If you do then the least problem you can expect this to be denied coverage for the accident. Here is where the copy of the police report is going to be essential. Be certain the insurance company receives that.
5. Keep Records of any Medical Treatment. You are now past the day of the accident and you need to keep records of any medical treatment received in relation to the event. This includes any reports or bills that are related to the accident.
6. Hesitate Before Accepting an Early Settlement Offer. The other driver’s insurance company may want you to accept an early settlement. Be very careful about that because you may be harming yourself. The same is true with your insurance company if you happen to have been injured. Do not sign off on the claim until you have received all of the medical treatment required. The danger is if you accept an early settlement or sign off before all of your medical treatment is done, you will be responsible for any additional costs.
This list is by no means exhaustive because there are other things you should consider. Your insurance company may come back with a valuation of damages which is less than the real cost. It is a smart idea to get at least two repair estimates from independent parties. You then have something you can use in negotiation with your insurance company. Recovery for damages incurred to no fault of your own may take some outside assistance. You may need to have an attorney help you get what you deserve. Many accident attorneys will work on a contingency fee that you only pay if you receive an award.
You have to keep in mind you must protect your own interests in this situation. Honestly, anything you say could be used against you when it comes to a final settlement. This is why you have to be very careful when you’re speaking to the insurance company of the other driver. The other insurance company or the other attorney is looking out for the best interests of their driver. It is advisable that you have them speak to either your attorney or your insurance company to perhaps arrange a meeting. It means you not only have another party working with you but you’re also communicating to the other side you need to be taken seriously.
Auto accidents are a very emotional experience. You have to keep these emotions in check as you go through settling the situation. Do not do anything in haste but all checklist carefully. It will save you off a lot of trouble in grief later on.
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