Being involved in a car accident isn’t something that most people plan for. With a little bit of luck and a regular practice of prudent driving you may go your entire life without getting into an accident. But the reality is that each time you get behind the wheel there is a risk of a crash, and it is important to know what steps to take if one occurs.
There are several steps to take if you are involved in a car accident. The first is to ensure your personal safety and the safety of others while you are still at the accident scene. If anyone needs medical attention, make sure that EMS is called to the scene.
Once that need has been addressed, you should exchange relevant information with others at the scene, such as contact information for each person involved, driver’s license information, and insurance policy details. You also want to get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident, and the badge number of any law enforcement officer who came to the scene.
At this point you should contact your car insurance agent. This can be done after you return home from the accident scene, or even the next day. It is important to contact your insurance agent even if you believe the other driver may be at fault for the car accident, and you intend to pursue an insurance claim against that driver or the driver’s insurance company. This is because there may be benefits available to you through your own insurance policy that you eventually may need to utilize.
For example, just because you believe the other driver is at fault for the accident, that does not necessarily mean the other driver’s insurance company will agree with you. And you will need an insurance company to provide authority for repairs to the auto repair shop where your car is getting fixed. If the other driver’s insurance company is disputing fault for the accident, that insurance company may not be willing to immediately agree to pay for those repairs. You may also need a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. That is where your own insurance company might step in and pay for the repairs and the rental vehicle, depending on the insurance coverage you have. But your insurance company can do this only if have notified your insurance agent of the accident.
Notifying your insurance company of a car accident is even more important in a situation where the other driver may not have any car insurance at all. Again, depending on the details of your policy, you may be entitled to compensation from your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist coverage.
The importance of contacting your insurance agent doesn’t only apply to situations where you are trying to get your car repaired following a car accident. If you were injured in the accident, you may incur medical expenses as a result of a visit to the emergency room, your own doctor, or for treatment like physical therapy.
Medical treatment is very expensive and few of us have the means to pay for it out of our own pocket. Depending on the state in which you live, and the type of car insurance coverage you have, you may be entitled to benefits from your own insurance company to help pay for those medical expenses. Your agent can detail your coverage options, so the first thing to do is make that call.
When you contact your agent, be prepared to provide the following information:
You may be able to handle a simple car accident claim on your own -- if you suffered very minor injuries and the other driver's insurance adjuster is accepting liability, for example. But if your case involves significant injuries or the other side is saying you were at fault for the accident, there is no substitute for having an experienced lawyer on your side. Learn more about Resolving a Car Accident Claim.