Understanding Car Accident Claims

After The Crash: Five Things To Do, And Five Not To Do Following A Car Accident

by Lois Gibson

Getting in a car accident can be downright frightening. But after you've confirmed that you're alive and relatively okay, it's time to get down the business. The way you handle yourself and the collision over the next several days can mean the difference between being able to collect from the insurance companies and having to file a complicated lawsuit with the guidance of your lawyer. Chances are, the entire claim process will be a lot simpler if you follow these dos and don'ts.

Five Things To Do

DO call the police. The other driver may insist that they will pay out of pocket for your damages or that the two of you can settle without involving the police. But if you later discover your injuries are more serious than they seem, you'll be in hot water. Always call the police so that an official police report is generated. Your insurance company needs the police report to process the claim.

DO get the other driver's information. The police officer should facilitate the exchange of information once on the scene. You need the other driver's full name, insurance company, policy number, phone number, and license plate number.

DO take pictures. Take as many as you can. Photograph your car, the other car, any obvious injuries, and the entire accident scene. If the other driver tries to argue that the accident occurred differently than it actually did, these photos may prove to be invaluable in proving your case.

DO keep your cool. Even though you are angry or upset, there's no reason to lash out at the other driver or involved parties. This could make the other driver more likely to dispute the claim.

DO contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Call them immediately -- before you go to the doctor's office, head home, or contact your attorney. They may have guidelines you have to follow when seeking medical care, and by calling them upfront, you can ensure you follow them.

Five Things Not To Do

DO NOT talk to the other driver until the police arrive on the scene. A brief "are you alright?" is acceptable, but you would not want to accidentally say something that could be taken as admitting fault for the collision. For instance, even saying "I'm sorry!" could be taken as an admission of guilt in some cases.

DO NOT accept a cash payment from the other driver. They may offer to give you $1000 or $2000 and call it even. This is never a safe choice. What if you wake up the next day with debilitating back pain? You need to be able to go through their insurance company to seek the compensation you deserve.

DO NOT turn down medical care. Unless you were in the most minor of all fender benders, you absolutely need to go to the doctor and get looked over. If you don't get medical attention promptly and later find out you have injuries, you'll have a harder time proving to the insurance companies that they were caused by the accident.

DO NOT lie to your insurance company. It may be tempted to exaggerate or stretch the truth to make your claim more convincing, but this constitutes insurance fraud, and you could be subject to harsh fines if caught.

DO NOT drive your car home if it is unsafe to do so. If your car is badly damaged, have it towed home or to the nearest repair shop. Driving home without mirrors, with a broken windshield, or with a smoking engine is not safe and may simply lead to another accident further down the road.

For more information about what you should and shouldn't do after being involved in an automobile accident, reach out to attorneys like Katz Nowinski PC.