Unfortunately, car accidents are an every day occurrence. They can range from minor fender benders to loss of life. Because they are so prevalent, it is important to know what to do after you’ve had an accident.
First, make sure everyone in your vehicle is ok. If everyone is OK, check your surroundings and make sure it’s safe to exit the vehicle. Obviously, if someone in your vehicle is not OK, call emergency services immediately. Once out of the vehicle, get to the side of the road and call 911. A police officer will need to make an accident report. Remember, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. If the other party leaves the scene of the accident, do not chase them—stay at the scene until police arrive.
Next, take pictures of your damaged vehicle and the scene. Take pictures of the other car or cars involved in the accident. These photographs can be helpful if there is a dispute on who is at fault.
Next, exchange car insurance information with the other driver. Sometimes the other driver may not cooperate with this part. This could be for a variety of reasons like they don’t have insurance or their emotions are running high from the accident. If the other driver is belligerent, stay away and wait on police to arrive.
After the accident report is taken, you will be able to leave. If your car can not move under it’s own power, you will need to have it towed. A common insurance myth is that you are bullied into taking your vehicle to a shop of the insurance company’s choice. This is NOT true, you can have your vehicle towed to whatever shop you want to use. Remember to keep the towing receipt as your insurance company will pick up this cost if you have collision coverage.
Next, determine the damage. If it’s obvious that the damage will be very expensive, call your insurance company and file a claim. If you have minor damage, get estimates on the repairs before you make a claim. This way you will know what the cost is and you can make the decision if it is worth it to make a claim. For example if you have small scuffs on your paint, it may only cost a couple hundred dollars to fix. Depending on your deductible, you may not get much of a pay out from the claim. It would be better to fix this out of pocket and not have a claim on your record. It’s better to make claims on bigger items.
After you have filed a claim, the insurance company pays for the repairs less the deductible. In a total loss, the insurance company will pay you the actual cash value of your vehicle at the time of the loss less the deductible. In a total loss you actually sell the vehicle to the insurance company. All the companies we represent at Hennessey, Thames and Leavitt care about people and make genuine efforts to pay you everything you are entitled to. To learn more, call our office at 601-636-5560!