How do I file a claim after my car accident?
Experiencing a car accident can be devastating, no matter how severe. It can be hard to keep a clear mind and remember all the documentation that needs to be collected after such an event. Still, it is important to get all the necessary information in line to avoid any inaccuracies in reporting what occurred. Something that should be done immediately following the accident is filing a claim with your insurer.
With the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer, the purpose of filing your claim is to request compensation for damages from your insurance company. This compensation can go toward either repairing the vehicle (depending on the extent of damages) or purchasing a new vehicle if yours was totaled. What many people do not recognize about this process, though, is that it is not as simple as making a call to your insurance company alone. Here are a few necessary steps to appropriately filing a claim after an accident:
Call the Police
This does not occur to everyone as a part of the filing process, but, surprise! It is one of the most important elements. Having a police report as a part of your documentation is a huge help to your recollection of the accident, especially considering that you may be very worked up and emotional afterward. Accurate information is a necessity when reporting to your insurance agency and will be your best bet to avoiding undeserved fault.
Having the presence of an officer on the scene is also an asset to your safety, as you may not be fully prepared for how the other party involved might react. If there is any possibility of violence, the police will be there to keep everyone safe.
Document Details of the Accident
In addition to the police officers’ report of the accident, you need to add your own perspective as well. A few things you can do to document the accident from your own perspective include:
- Take photos of each vehicle involved
- Write down notes of what happened before you forget or details get mixed up due to heightened adrenaline and emotions:
- Were you making a turn?
- Did this occur at a stoplight/sign, or on a freeway?
- Did you signal properly?
Of course, there are many more elements that you can add to your documentation of the accident, but these are some essential details that can alleviate the burden of fault to someone who may not deserve it.
Report the Accident to the DMV
This is another element that is entirely non-negotiable. In fact, in many states, it is a requirement that anyone involved in an accident, whether they are found to be at fault or not, are required to report the event to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Under such state laws, neglecting to complete this step can result in the suspension of your license, which will only hurt your case for compensation.
Contact Your Insurer
Now that you’ve got all your bases covered, contact your insurance company as soon as possible, preferably from the scene of the accident. They will provide you with all the information you need to provide, and any next steps for transportation in case your vehicle was totaled.
After they gather all the necessary information from you, you will be transferred to a claim specialist who can further guide you on what to expect next according to the damages, determine who was at fault, and settle on the appropriate compensation.