(Updated Article – Original Publish Date: January 15, 2014)
An auto accident has the ability to throw your life into a tailspin. Many people after being involved in collisions are unsure of what steps they should take first. Below is a car accident checklist showing 8 items to remember to help maximize your settlement.
- 1. Exchange Information – After a car accident, it is required by law that you pull over to the side of the road and exchange information with the other driver(s) involved. In some severe cases, this is not possible when the driver(s) is incapacitated. The information you will want to exchange includes: names, addresses/phone numbers, and the insurance company.
- 2. Seek Medical Attention – Some people are taken directly to the hospital to receive emergency medical services, but it is optional for others. If you were involved in a car accident, we encourage you to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don’t think you need it. Many car accident injuries are not noticeable until a day or two later. Going to the hospital also creates a paper trail and valuable evidence to use in your car accident claim.
- 3. You Can Wait a Few Days – It is very normal for people who have been involved in car accidents to feel as if they have to file a claim the same day or next day. This is not the case. While you do want to file your claim sooner rather than later, it is perfectly OK to take a few days to recover.
- 4. File a Claim with Your Insurance – The next step is to report the accident to your insurance company. This begins the claims process. Once you explain the details of your case to your insurance company, your case will be assigned to an adjuster who will determine liability and the total cost of damages. If you have medical payments coverage or personal injury protection make sure to take advantage of these.
- 5. Keep a Close Watch on the Progress of Your Claim – All claims take a different amount of time to resolve due to the varying nature of car accidents. Your insurance company is there to field your questions, so never be afraid to check in on the status of your claim. Some insurance companies even allow you to do this online.
- 6. Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer – Not all, but in many cases, insurance companies will offer you an extremely low settlement the first time around. This is because insurance companies are for-profit businesses that make money the less they give away to you. This often means they try to minimize the value of your claim. Watch out for these 10 insurance company tricks.
- 7. You Can Contest Your Case – Insurance companies do provide a way for you to contest the value of the settlement they offered, but they also reserve the right to refuse to change your reward (or lack thereof). If this is the case, and you have not yet retained an attorney, we encourage you to do so.
- 8. Seek Attorney Representation – Having a car accident lawyer as your advocate can significantly increase your chances of getting maximum financial compensation after a car accident.