It doesn't matter whose at fault, accidents are scary and confusing. Almost as soon as it occurs, you are left dazed and confused. Who do I call first? Do I talk to the other party? Who is a "fault"? Should I take pictures? Where do I go to get my car fixed? The questions are endless! And, as most people today, you already have way too many things to do without having to hassle with an accident.
First we should consider the very first thing to do right after an accident occurs.
1. MAKE SURE EVERYONE AND THEIR VEHICLES ARE SAFE.
Check yourself and your passengers to make sure everyone is OK. If the vehicle cannot be moved or there are injuries, turn on the cars emeregency flashers, remain in your seats with seatbelts fastened and call 911. If there are no major injuries and the vehicle is able to move. Move your vehicle to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If you have an roadside emergency kit, (if you don't, you should) retreve the flares or warning triangles and set them up.
2. EXCHANGE INFORMATION.
"After the accident, exchange the following information: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle. If the driver's name is different from the name of the insured, establish what the relationship is and take down the name and address for each individual. Also make a written description of each car, including year, make, model and color — and the exact location of the collision and how it happened." Finally, be polite and don't place blame on yourself or the other driver. That is the job of the police. Getting into a fight over whose fault it was, dosen't help anyone.
3. DOCUMENT THE DAMAGE.
Use your camera (or your phone) to take pictures of the accident area and both vehicles. This is for your benefit and protection in case of a law suit but also for the benefit of your insurance adjuster. If there are witnesses, try to get their contact information in case the other driver tries to dispute what occured.
4. FILE AN ACCIDENT REPORT.
"Although law enforcement officers in many locations may not respond to accidents unless there are injuries, drivers should file a state vehicle accident report, which is available at police stations and often on the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site as a downloadable file. A police report often helps insurance companies speed up the claims process."
5. CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.
If the accident was minor, you and the other driver might decide to pay for the damages out of pocket. But when the repair estimates arrive, suddenly the cost is too high. The repair process becomes delayed now. "Also, keep in mind that you have no way of knowing whether another driver will change his mind and report the accident to his insurance company. He may even claim injuries that weren't apparent at the scene of the accident. This means that your insurance company may end up paying him a hefty settlement, or worse yet, you could be dragged into a lawsuit. So make sure that your company has your version of what happened and check your policy — if the damages paid out by your insurance company are below a certain amount, the accident may not be considered chargeable. And you will avoid the penalty of a premium hike."
6. FIND A REPAIR SHOP.
This can be a daunting task. However, if you have had a friend or realative that had their vehicle repaired recently, ask them if they were happy. Or do your research online. Most shops will welcome a phone call to ask about their rates and if they have free estimates.
The insurance company may try to steer to you one of their direct repair shops. The insurance company will often supply you with a rental car, and get your car repaired quickly. This can be of some benefit if you do no have the time to do the research and the running around getting estimates. But keep in mind, the downside to this is that your aren't in controll of who repairs your vehicle and what with quality. You might get your car back in 3 days, but is it repaired with quality parts with a warranty. Sometimes, taking the extra time to look around will save you money, and you will have a quality repair that will last for many miles down the road.
This post was written by:
Melissa DucoteWith excerpts from the web article