Sometimes the messiest part of a car accident isn’t the accident itself, but the process of making a claim and potentially going to court. Following the proper steps at the scene of the accident and in the days afterward can mean the difference between receiving quicker payments for losses with minimal confusion among all parties involved and fighting an uphill battle with insurance companies and disputes with the other driver. It’s good to brush up on these essentials should you ever find yourself in a situation where they really count.
In the Moment
Immediately following an accident, you may be rattled and not thinking straight. Try to take a moment to clear your head and collect all the proper information from the scene. This includes: contacting the police, who can provide a statement that your insurance company may later use to determine who is at fault; exchanging contact information and insurance policies with the other driver; documenting all relevant information about the crash; and taking pictures of the damage and scene.
Statute of Limitations
You should inform your insurance agency of the crash shortly after it occurs so that they can guide you through it, but you have a little more time to file a claim. The statute of limitations to file a claim differs from state to state, but these are the average timelines:
- Personal Injury Claim: 2-4 years
- Property Damage: 2-6 years
- Car Accident Report: Immediately-30 days
You should double check what your state’s statute of limitations are. You never want to go file a claim only to discover it’s too late.
Once you’ve contacted your insurance company, they’ll want details of the accident and the damage. You’ll need to give them general information and proof, including the other driver’s information and the photos you took at the scene. You might also receive a call from the other driver’s insurance agency if there are contradicting stories about the accident and fault is not clear.
The insurance companies of each individual will ultimately determine who is at fault, though they may use police reports to help them with this. They will send a claims adjuster to help you with next steps like investigating the accident and handling payments, repairs and injuries claims.
There are different types of claims, so be sure to contact a lawyer to advise you on the best route for getting the most compensation. Insurance companies are in the business of making money and dishing out the minimal amount, and you don’t want to go home with anything less than you deserve.