A car accident is not only a dangerous event but can also be a very costly one if the driver is not careful. Although no one wants to face an accident in their lives, it is a good idea to have a management plan ready to deal with the aftermath to reduce damages on the victim’s side. Read on to find out how to deal with car accidents and what common mistakes to avoid to protect yourself.
Keep Your Cool
Car accidents can be scary, and it is a natural reaction to become overwhelmed or emotional and express anger at the other driver. However, it is important that you don’t lose your temper when handling the situation. Keeping a cool head will help resolve the situation quickly without any mess. Don’t quarrel with the other driver. Calmly assess the damage and cooperate with the police and emergency responders. Answer the questions you are asked honestly without adding unnecessary details or complaints.
Ensure that You Receive Medical Care
Even if you feel well, for the time being, some serious injuries can develop over time so you must undergo a thorough medical examination. Moreover, the medical documents following the accident will be helpful when you are filing a claim later on.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
Legal procedures can get messy and complicated especially in serious car accidents. Therefore, it is a good idea to contact a professional to guide you through the legal procedures and provide advice in your favor. To save you from the long-term effects of injury-related losses, we recommend hiring a personal injury attorney.
At the very least, an attorney would be able to give you an idea about what to expect regarding lawsuits and how you can protect yourself legally. They can also convince insurance companies to help you get a fair claim in case of serious losses.
This will be significant later on when you will file claims or to settle any lawsuits. Ensure that you note down all relevant details like the other driver’s name, contact details, and insurance company information. Also, take note of the car model, number plate, and also exchange the information with the other driver. Recording the contact details of any witnesses is also a good idea.
Reporting the Accident
You must always notify your insurance company of any damage to your vehicle. Otherwise, you risk cancelling your policy. Depending on the severity, you may need to file a police report as well. Consult an attorney or your insurance company on this matter.
If you are able, take pictures of the scene, including the damages to all vehicles involved and their relative positions. Take pictures of any debris, skid marks, obstacles, defective road signs that may have contributed to the accident. Photograph your injuries as well.
You will have to pay the deductible to your insurance if you are involved in a hit and run. However, your rates will remain the same. You will need to notify the police within 24 hours for the insurance company to consider it as a hit and run case.
Notifying the Collision Reporting Centre is another task that you need to do following the accident. They, in turn, can also inform your insurance company about it.
Ideally, you should talk to your insurance company while you are still at the scene or within 24h of the accident. Remember not to accept blame for the accident or deemphasize your damages and injuries. Wait until you have contacted your lawyer before making any written or recorded statements.
Fault determination rules differ depending on companies. Don’t be surprised if your insurance company faults you and increases rates even if the police rules otherwise. To prevent such issues, talk to your broker and understand the policies and also consult an attorney so that the ultimate decision is in your favor. Remember that if the police determines that the accident was your fault, it could be on your driving record for 6 years and even increase your rates.
Keep an Accident Log
This will help you find any details in your favor and also serve as evidence in police reports. This should include claim documents, medical reports and bills, car repair bills that you pay out of your pocket. Refer any calls by the other driver or their insurance company to the adjuster handling your claim.
Seek Expert Help
If you are unsatisfied with fault determination ruling or confused over legal or insurance-related terms, it is ideal you seek expert help in the field like an attorney or insurance experts rather than dealing with it on your own.
For an at-fault driver, the insurance rate may rise upto 30% and stay so for up to 6 years. A second similar incident can label the person as a high-risk driver.
Your driver’s record will have a significant effect on your claims. Previous accidents and tickets could risk your insurance policy being canceled and you being labeled a high-risk driver. Talk to your broker to clarify the matter before submitting your claim.
A good driving record can qualify for accident forgiveness coverage. The at-fault driver’s first offense may also be covered up at an additional cost. However, if you switch insurance companies, this won’t apply, and your accident will still appear on records.
An easy way to do this is to use online comparing sites like nerd wallet that can help you compare rates from top insurance companies.
Insurance companies generate rates depending on the type of vehicle, location of the accident, driver’s previous records. A clean record goes in favor of a driver.
To calculate how much an accident will actually cost you, multiply the rate that the insurance company quoted you with 6. This is the number of years the premium will rise up for. Thus, it is better, in the long run, to pay out of your pocket if your damage is minor and requires cheaper repairs. For e.g., a $1000 damage which increases by $500 dollar every year for 6 years will cost you $3000 through insurance.
You may look up quotes to determine whether you can save money by switching insurance companies. Repeat this process for the next 6 years to find an insurer with a lower rate.
Paying Expenses Personally
As mentioned before, paying for repairs yourself is more money-saving in the long run.
Many insurance companies have preferred repair shops, which help ensure that your repairs will be handled properly and any issues will be dealt with by the insurance company on your behalf. However, you can choose where to get your car repaired though you will be responsible for managing the repair then.
The bottom line is getting involved in car accidents can be a messy and complicated business. However, with the proper guidance, you will be able to settle any claims and protect yourself from lawsuits. Being level-headed and having a systematic approach will help you handle any situation without trouble. Finally, the fundamental thing about handling car accidents is not to get into one in the first place, and you can reduce those chances by driving safely. So drive safely and always remain alert while on the road.