A car accident can be a scary time in anyone’s life. Even if the damage is minimal there is a police report to file, the other driver to deal with and an auto insurance claim to file. If it is your first accident you may find yourself overwhelmed and unsure what to do first. Fortunately filing a claim is a step by step process that is relatively simple to learn and understand.
You must keep many things in mind in order to file a successful claim. Everything you say and do from the moment of the accident may have an impact on your claim. You must be certain that the police report is complete and accurate and that you have accurate information from the other driver. You should also be sure to file your insurance claim in a timely manner.
Determining “relative fault” in an accident is a complicated process that can only be handled by experts. “Relative fault” is the percentage of fault for an accident that lies with each driver. In most jurisdictions even the driver who is in the right has a responsibility to try to avoid an accident. Since relative fault will not be determined at the scene of the accident, it is important to stick to the facts and avoid a discussion of fault.
You should write your own statement of what happened for your records at the scene if possible or as soon as you get home. You also need to get the other driver’s full name, insurance information and vehicle details. Also try to get a police report for even minor accidents.
After the Accident
Contact your car insurance company immediately. The insurance company will probably send you forms to fill out and will likely request the police report and the other driver’s insurance information. If you have any questions at all on how to fill out the forms do not hesitate to call your insurance company. The forms are the primary documents used to settle your auto insurance claim so be sure that they are accurately and completely filled out. What happens next depends on the type of insurance you have, your insurer’s policies and procedures and their determination of fault.
If the other driver was at fault then you will normally receive a quick settlement offer from his insurance company. Read the offer carefully and have it reviewed by an attorney if possible. You will likely lose your right to sue if you take the settlement offer but a reasonable settlement will put money in your hands long before a lawsuit will. Only you and your attorney can decide whether to accept the settlement.
A car accident is scary for anyone. The paperwork that follows can be even scarier. However, filing a claim is a step by step process that anyone can learn. Simply follow the above tips and be sure to ask a lot of questions. You can be successful in filing your auto insurance claim.