VEHICLE ACCIDENTS FAQs
I’ve just been in an accident, what do I do?
Try to stay calm. A cool head can make a difference. Locate witnesses and get their names, addresses and telephone numbers. Exchange information, including insurance data, with the other driver. Call the police. If there is debris from the accident, think about returning and taking photos. Don’t discuss the facts of the accident with anybody else, unless you’re asked by the police. Tell them the truth. If you have been hurt, make sure you get medical care as soon as you can. Call your insurance agent and promptly report the accident. Don’t discuss any aspect of the accident or your injuries with the other person’s insurance company representative. No matter what that person tells you, you are not obligated to be interviewed.
If you are injured in an accident, it is important you seek treatment immediately. Sometimes serious injuries do not cause immediate pain. If you experience even minor pain after an accident, seek treatment immediately.
Remember to obtain the name, address, license number, and insurance information from the other drivers involved.
After an accident, who should I talk to and what should I say?
Whether it is five minutes or give weeks after an accident, don’t discuss it with the other person’s insurance company representative or adjuster. Their job is to get as much information about your accident or your injuries and then try to use it against you. You can talk about the accident with your insurance company. In fact, your policy says you must cooperate with your insurance company. But even so, your insurance company is going to look out for its own interests before it looks out for yours. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer before you talk to any insurance company
If the accident is serious, or if you are partially or totally at fault in the accident, you should contact a lawyer prior to speaking to anyone, if practical. You lawyer can review the facts with you to ensure that your statement is clear and factually correct. If necessary, your lawyer can help you fill out any required accident reports and insurance claim forms.
You will be asked at some point to provide your version of the accident, often by police, if they are called to the scene. Most, if not all states, will require you to file an accident report with the department of motor vehicles. Your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company will also want your version of the accident.
The accident was not my fault. What rights do I have?
You have the right to have your medical bills paid and your wage loss reimbursed. You also have the right to make a claim against the driver who caused the accident. In that claim you may recover damages (money) for pain, suffering, disability, disfigurement, emotional distress, loss of earning capacity and other losses that you may have suffered. The money for these losses is paid by the other person’s insurance company. You also have the right to get your car fixed, or, if its totaled, get the value of the car as it was just before the accident. This is called a property damage claim. It can be made against your insurance company if you have what’s known as “comprehensive” coverage. You may also have the right to collect that damage from the other person’s insurance company.
What can I do if my insurance company refuses to pay my claim?
After an accident, many people find out the hard way that their insurance company isn’t the warm, fuzzy group portrayed in its commercials. Studies have shown that in almost half of the claims submitted to insurance companies, legitimate requests for payment are denied. In many others, the injured person isn’t aware of his or her right to receive benefits, and the insurance company doesn’t go out of its way to set the record straight.
Can I make a claim against the person who caused the accident?
You can make a claim for pain, suffering, disability and many other kinds of losses against the other person’s insurance, if you can prove the other person’s fault was greater than yours.