WHEN ACCIDENTS HAPPEN - How to Respond in a Tough Situation
Being in a car accident is the last thing anyone wants - but when it
does happen, there are ways of making sure that the legal and insurance
issues are handled with as little stress as possible.
- First of all - stay calm.
- If someone is injured, be sure to call for medical help.
- Make sure you call the police.
- Don't publicly make any statements where you either
accuse the other person of causing the accident or take all the blame
yourself. It could open you up to legal problems.
- Whatever you do, don't leave the scene until you've
had a chance to talk with the officer and you've gotten their name.
It's important to make sure that your side of the story goes on the
record. Afterward, it's a good idea to get a copy of the police report.
- Make sure you have a pre-printed copy of your
insurance information in the glove compartment, along with a camera you
can use to provide pictures for the insurance company. A disposable
camera with a flash for nighttime or interior shooting is usually best
- In dealing with the other driver, make sure you get
their name, address, driver's license number and insurance information -
and that they get the same information from you.
- Also, make sure to get information from any witnesses as well.
- Make sure you get pictures of any physical evidence of what could have caused the accident.
- Write down pertinent details such as where the accident took place, what the weather was like, etc.
- Once the information's exchanged, report the accident to the insurance company immediately, even if it's not your fault.
- Make sure you understand how you're covered, and
don't be afraid to ask the insurance company to explain the conditions
of your coverage and payments.
- Don't be afraid to seek legal advice - and don't sign anything if you don't understand it.
- When you're using a body shop to get repairs to your
vehicle, be aware that the insurance company can recommend a shop, but
you are under no legal obligation to use its services. You have the
legal right to choose the shop to do your repairs.
- Also be aware that insurance companies sometimes try
to dictate what type of parts are used in a vehicle's repair. They
might insist that a shop not use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)
parts, as they are more expensive. You have a right to know what kind of parts are being used on your
vehicle, and to know if your insurance policy dictates what kind of
parts can be used in your car. If your policy lets you choose, you have
the right to decide for yourself.
- An insurance company also has the right to inspect
your vehicle, but it is not required to do so. In addition, they cannot
require you to visit one of their own claim centers.
- And finally: Make sure you learn from this accident,
but also let yourself move on from what happened. Everyone has an
accident once in a while - it's just something that happens.
Remember - Drive Safely!
Want more information on your rights? Call us at 203-783-5944.