Getting into an auto accident is – at the very least – a major inconvenience. At its worst, it can be a life-shattering event that results in long-term injuries. If another driver disobeyed traffic laws and rammed into you, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. You will have to file a car accident claim, and there is a very specific process for this. Learn the steps you must take to increase your chances of a successful claim outcome.
Call the police at the scene of the accident. This is especially true if bodily injury is involved. Right after the accident, you may be shaken up and not exactly in the right state of mind. However, please remain composed and call your local law enforcement. A police officer will be able to more objectively assess what happened and record the event. He will also be able to call ambulance if necessary or keep you safe if the other party becomes belligerent.
While you’re still at the scene, collect as much information as you can. The responding police officer will collect the information, but you should still document as much info as you can. This includes acquiring witness names and contact info, documenting time, taking photos of damage, etc. You should also write down or record an audio of yourself describing in detail what happened. It’s best to log in the information while your memory is still fresh.
You are required by law to report the incident to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The timeframe for doing so differs depending on your state of residence, though it’s usually five to 30 days starting from the date of the accident. You can submit the report within minutes online, though you may also submit the report in writing or visit the local DMV in person. Keep in mind that failure to file with the DMV may result in a revocation of your driver’s license even if you were not the party at fault.
When you call your insurance company, you will be connected with a claims specialist or an adjuster. This person will discuss your options and work with any third parties and their respective insurance agencies. The adjuster will also provide specific instructions, such as where to take your vehicle for repairs and where to go for a rental car.
On the subject of insurance agencies, you may also hear directly from the other party’s insurer. Expect to provide them the same information you provided your own insurer.
If the claims process goes smoothly, then this step can be avoided. However, there are instances when you may need to hire legal representation. You may be eligible, for example, to file a separate diminished value claim, which is additional compensation due to a vehicle’s partial loss stemming from the accident. This is something an attorney can assist you with. The bottom line is that a car accident lawyer can help you acquire the claim settlement offer you deserve.