No one is ever truly prepared for an auto accident. When someone hits your car, the initial shock of the event can put you in a state of mind in which you are not ready to deal with the legal ramifications. This is not a situation in which you want to find yourself, so we present this article as a short introduction to the subject. With a little knowledge, you can get through the situation a lot more smoothly.
Step One: Call 911
Obviously, human life and safety are a lot more important than any vehicle. Therefore, the first thing you should do is check to see if anyone has been injured. Even if all parties seem fine, it’s still a good idea to call 911 regardless. Not all injuries are apparent at first glance, so everyone involved in the crash should get checked by medical personnel. Not only that, but you need to document this accident for legal purposes.
If you are dealing with a case where the other driver is clearly at fault, they might try and convince you to forego calling 911 or the police. They might offer to pay for the damages to your vehicle or something along those lines, but you probably shouldn’t take those kinds of offers. If both parties leave the scene of the accident without any documentation that it occurred, you will have an extremely difficult time collecting any damages from that person.
Step Two: Obtain A Copy Of The Police Report
When you call 911 to report the accident, you can be pretty sure that a police officer will show up as well. They will talk to all parties involved and make a preliminary determination of fault. At this point, you should make sure that you cooperate fully with the officer and give them as much information as you can. Just remember this: The contents of that police report might help you or harm you, depending on what that officer sees and hears.
After a day or two, you should be able to go down to your local police station and obtain a copy of the police report. Your insurance company will definitely want a copy or at least some assurances that you have ordered one. Make sure you ask the police officer how soon you can request this police report so that you can give your insurance company a timeline.
Step Three: Call Your Insurance Company
Now that you have started the process of obtaining the police report, it’s time to make that difficult call to your insurance company. At this point, many people are not sure if they should call their insurance company or the other drivers’ insurance company. The answer is that you should always call your insurance company first.
The other drivers’ insurance company is not going to help you any more than the law demands. From their perspective, they don’t want you to be in the right, because that means they become liable for damages. That’s why you should call your insurance company first. They are the ones who will attempt to help you, as their interests converge with yours. Be sure to follow their instructions, as they probably know the law much better than you do.
Step Four: A Lengthy Process Begins
Once you have informed your insurance company of the accident, they will probably want to send an inspector to your residence. They will inspect the damage to your vehicle, and they will probably want to take a close look at every affected area. Make sure you are cooperative and helpful to the inspector, as this will help them to do their jobs. Besides, you probably don’t want to make this person mad, anyway.
When it comes to dealing with the other insurance company, your insurance company will probably handle all of that. Dealing with them on your own might be a bad idea because they will record any phone conversation that you have. If you aren’t familiar with the law, they can trick you into saying things that will damage your claim. Remember, these people don’t care about you at all. They don’t want to pay, and they will do everything in their power to avoid paying you anything.
There is a chance that the matter could end up in court, but most cases don’t go that far. In spite of the fact that they don’t want to pay, most insurance companies will recognize when their driver was clearly at fault (even if it takes them a while!). However, they aren’t going to admit anything to you. That’s why you should leave that part to your insurance company. In cases where the other driver left the scene (“hit and run”), you may not have a choice.
You should know that most states have laws that force all insurance companies to perform an investigation before denying fault. Other states have laws that make it illegal for a company to deny fault without justified cause. It would be nice if we could give you a universal rule to follow, but every state is slightly different. Thus, we advise you to investigate the laws in your state regarding this matter. Your insurance representative or your attorney are both good places to start.
Dealing with the ramifications of a car accident can be one of the most frustrating events in your life. As the insurance companies argue back and forth, you will certainly have to jump through some hoops, both corporate and legal. At the same time, the question of which insurance company you should call is a simple one. You should call your own insurance company and let them deal with the other company. We hope that this article has made you better prepared for this kind of situation and that you are able to handle things in a timely and convenient manner. If you have enjoyed our work, please fill out the contact form below.