Any time that an auto accident takes place it is vital that all parties involved follow a number of steps in order to protect their rights and receive compensation. This may include speaking with insurance companies, which can quickly turn into a confusing and stressful affair for those that are not prepared. This is why every driver should know what steps to take after an accident and when it may be time to seek out professional legal help.
Collecting the Correct Information
No matter how the situation plays out or which driver is at fault, everyone should at least know what information they absolutely must collect before leaving the scene of the accident. Legally, all drivers involved must hand over their personal contact information and insurance information, but they are not required to give anything else to the other driver. It is also a good idea to collect the contact information of any witnesses, a few pictures of the scene, and the badge number of police officers if they arrive.
Contacting the Insurance Provider
Depending on your state, if the accident causes over $750 in damage the DMV must be contacted within 10 days, but insurance companies are slightly different. Each provider has their own requirement that can range from 7 to 90 days. While this may seem like a lot of time, it is important to file the information as quickly as possible to get the process moving. The driver will most likely only need to fill out paperwork with information such as the date and location of the accident, the basics of what occurred, and the other driver’s information.
Being Contacted by the Claims Adjuster
When your own insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company begin to contact you, this is when things can get hectic. In most situations, the insurance provider of the at-fault driver will attempt to make a quick settlement. If the settlement seems too low, was offered quickly, or appears to be suspicious in any other way, it is important to not sign any paperwork. The only information that the companies need is your contact information and your insurance information.
When to Find an Attorney
If there are any injuries, a disagreement about who is at fault, or the settlement will not cover every expense, it is time to hire an attorney (Source: Kitchen Simeson Belliveau LLP.). These insurance companies are for profit, and this means that they will always look for ways to pay out little or nothing in their claims. This can lead to one or more victims struggling with serious injuries, medical bills, and a totaled car.
When any driver is in one of these situations it is always better to err on the side of caution. A lawyer should be contacted any time that an insurance provider does not compensate a victim quickly and fairly after a collision.
This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her three-year-old husky Snowball.