The Five most important things to know after a car accident and about talking with an insurance agent
What you say CAN hurt you!
DEALING WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES AFTER AN ACCIDENT
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, HANDLE INSURANCE COMPANIES, AND GET THE MOST FROM YOUR SETTLEMENT!
Were you injured in an auto accident? If you are involved in an automobile accident, you must protect your rights!
1. Don’t admit Fault
It is very important when you cause an accident not to admit that it is your fault.
This can be difficult, as your first instinct may be to apologize to the person you collided with and tell him or her you accept the blame. However, even if you believe the accident was your fault, it’s best to keep it to yourself. Don’t tell anyone on the scene. This includes the other driver and the passengers in the other car.
Do not talk to the others involved about the accident, or how it happened. Don’t ask the other driver provocative questions to place the blame on him or her. Don’t get into a fight or accuse the other driver of anything. Don’t ask the other driver how fast he or she was driving. These are questions covered by the police and insurance; you don’t need to discuss them.
It’s best to simply ask the other driver if anybody was hurt, and then recommend you should all wait for the police to arrive. If you are feeling angry or emotional, keep it to yourself, and take a walk while you wait to calm down.
2. Get a copy of the Police report.
You need to document the event for later use by the insurance companies. Hopefully you took pictures!
You should have the following early in this process:
- Police report
- Traffic tickets given to the other person (or to you)
- Photos of the scene of the accident
- Names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses and what they saw
- Medical records and bills
- Photos of your injuries
If you do not have these yet, you can call the police station to get the information.
3. Tell your own Insurance Company about the accident.
Most auto accident claims are typically handled through insurance companies. The most important one is your own company!
Notify your insurance company of the accident Promptly. Your insurance company is accountable for the correct, appropriate, and reasonable investigation of your claim, even if it wasn’t your fault.
After the accident you may hear from the other driver’s insurance adjuster as well as your own claims adjuster. Know which you can talk to and what you can say.
If you weren’t at fault in the accident, you may call the other driver’s insurance company. But, we don’t suggest that you do this until you know exactly what to say. Every word will be carefully considered and if you say the wrong thing, it could affect your rights or your claims!
You have a duty under your insurance policy to cooperate with your insurance company. You must cooperate in the investigation, settlement or defense of the case with your company, sign authorizations if requested, submit to an examination under oath and submit a proof of loss to name.
4. Don’t sign ANYTHING without talking to your own company (or your attorney)
Before signing any documents it is always best to check with an attorney to be sure you are not signing away any of your rights.
Your insurance adjuster will request a recorded statement. You must give your company this statement or the company can void your coverage. Your insurance adjuster will then decide if you are at fault or if the other person is at fault. If you are at fault your insurance company will pay the damages and any personal bodily injuries of the other party up to the policy limits you purchased.
If you are not at fault for the accident, the other party’s insurance adjuster will request a recorded statement. You are not required to give a recorded statement, and we suggest that you not give this statement because anything you say can later be used against you. If you are required to give your version of what happened in the accident in order to get the adjuster to pay your property damage, tell them what happened, but do not allow them to record you.
5. Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
It is important to seek medical treatment immediately after an accident even if you feel you are not seriously injured. Frequently, symptoms do not become apparent for several hours after an accident. Unfortunately, many accident victims wait to get treatment. Waiting to get treatment is not only bad for your physical wellbeing, but may hurt your chances of getting a fair settlement for your injuries.
What else do I need to know?
WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD I OBTAIN?
First and most importantly seek immediate medical attention if you are seriously injured in an automobile accident.
- The full names, addresses, telephone numbers of any drivers involved in the accident and their contact information.
- The drivers license number of any drivers involved in the accident.
- License number, make and model of the cars involved; and the name, policy number and contact information for their insurance companies.
- Names and addresses of any passengers in the other vehicles.
- Names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Record the actual location and time of the accident.
- In what direction were the vehicles traveling just prior to the accident?
- Record the weather conditions.
- Was there anything “wrong” with the vehicles before teh accident, such as a broken headlight or brake light?
- If the police were called to the scene of the accident, obtain the officer’s name and badge number and the city in which the officer works.
- If the police issued a violation to the other driver, ask the officer what type of violation was issued and the court date.
- Record the damage to your vehicle and all the other vehicles involved. If possible, take pictures of all the vehicles.
- Did any person involved in the accident report any personal injury shortly after the accident?
- What personal injury did the injured person report? Did anyone say “I’m not hurt?”
- Was medical assistance rendered at the scene of the accident?
- Did any of the vehicles need to be towed from the scene of the accident?
- Record how the accident occured.
- Did anyone accept responsibility for the accident, or make a comment such as, “it was my fault.”
- Were any of the drivers involved driving while working, or driving a company owned vehicle?
SHOULD I CALL THE POLICE?
Yes, it is important to contact the police immediately if you are involved in an accident. Police will immediately investigate the scene of the accident, take statements of witnesses, and will examine the other driver to check for drug or alcohol use. The police can also be valuable witnesses to your injury at the scene, and they can assist in securing an admission of fault from the negligent driver.
CAN I BE FOUND LIABLE IF MY CAR IS REAR-ENDED IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT?
If you are hit from behind or “rear-ended” by someone, the accident is virtually always that driver’s fault, regardless of the reason you stopped. A basic rule of the road requires that a driver be able to stop safely if a vehicle stops ahead of the driver. If the driver cannot stop, he is not driving as safely as the person in front of him.
WHEN SHOULD I CONTACT AN ATTORNEY?
It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury attorney will begin the process of preserving any evidence, obtaining police reports and contacting any witnesses to the accident.
The Law Office of Joseph E. Anthony is ready to assist you!