Dealing with Insurance in the Aftermath of a Crash
On behalf of Bradford Fulton at Carter & Fulton, P.S.
The immediate aftereffects of a motor vehicle accident can be difficult enough. Hopefully no one was seriously injured; if there were injuries, recovering takes the highest priority. Unfortunately, as anyone who has been in an accident knows, dealing with the crash involves more than just recuperating. You must also deal with insurance companies and the cost of medical expenses and lost wages.
First Steps after an Accident
The following first steps apply to milder accidents that occur on relatively safe roadways. If the accident is serious, the most critical issue is your safety. If you are unable to move the car from a busy road, do not leave the vehicle. Stay in the car until proper authorities can make the area safe.
If it is safe to do so, however, you can take a few steps that will help you later in dealing with insurance companies. Take down the other driver’s information. This will include the other driver’s license number, name, address, phone number, and license plate number; also obtain the other driver’s insurance information, including the company and policy number. If the driver is not the vehicle owner, obtain the owner’s information. Contact the police, even for minor accidents.
Take notes, such as what direction you were driving, what direction the other driver came from, and where the accident occurred. Note the weather conditions and time of day. If you have a cell phone with a camera, take pictures, including damage to your vehicle. If there are witnesses, obtain their names and phone numbers so they can confirm what actually occurred prior to the crash. Do not take the blame for the accident. Fault isn’t always clear in the shock of an accident. Prematurely admitting negligence either at the scene of the accident or when informing an insurance company can hurt you later.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Car Accident Insurance Claim
You should also avoid the following common mistakes when dealing with insurance companies:
- Giving too much information: You do not need to give a detailed accounting of the accident when first informing the insurance company. Also, the call does not have to be recorded. Do not provide an estimate of car damages without getting several appraisals.
- Ignoring injuries: Do not dismiss injuries, even if you believe you will make a full recovery. Do not tell an insurance company you are uninjured, even if you believe it to be true at the time. Make sure to pay attention to your health for several weeks following a wreck. Not all injuries are obvious immediately. Traumatic brain injuries can be difficult to note at first, but can have effects that linger for years. Psychological issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, can take time to diagnose. Don’t share your medical history with insurance companies.
- Settling quickly: Do not let the insurance company dictate a lower amount than that to which you are entitled. Insurance companies are businesses that do not always have your best interests at heart. When dealing with your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurance, do not sign anything you offer attorney can review it.
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, it is often wisest to contact an attorney. A personal injury lawyer experienced in dealing with insurance companies and car accident cases can help you understand your rights and fight to obtain the compensation you need to recover and move on with your life.
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