Compton Law’s top 10 tips for handling car accidents:
- Make sure everyone is OK. Before concerning yourself with vehicle damage and exchanging insurance information, make sure that all parties in the accident are OK.
- Call the police. The police report and investigation contain the crucial and basic information your attorney or claims adjuster will need when investigating and evaluating the insurance claim. Moreover, reporting the accident to the police is almost always legally required.
- Do not apologize. Yes, politeness is an admirable trait, but in this situation, a simple “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” can be seen as an admission of liability and can affect your chances of monetary recovery.
- Gather information. Get all the relevant contact information of any bystanders that may have seen the accident.
- Call your insurance company. Report the incident to your insurance company, even if you are completely at fault. Also, keep track of the time and money spent pursuing your claim. Keep copies of everything you send to the insurance company.
- Take pictures. Having proof of the damage to the car will help for insurance purposes and serve as evidence if there is a dispute down the line. Always keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment for these situations.
- Take notes. Taking pictures and detailing the accident and the nature of your injuries as soon as possible can serve to expedite the process.
- Be careful who you talk to. If the other party’s insurance company contacts you, your best response is to contact your insurance company or attorney. Why? Because they are better equipped to handle the situation.
- Don’t automatically accept the first estimate or offer you get. Jumping the gun on the settlement can be a costly mistake.
- Get an attorney. If your injuries are severe, there is a dispute with an insurance company, or the seemingly simple car accident suddenly turns complicated, seeking legal counsel who have navigated these potential minefields before.
A final tip, keep an “accident kit” in your car consisting of a pen and paper for taking notes, a camera to take pictures of the damage, as well as a first aid kit and a road safety kit.