Someone ran into you while you were driving, and now you’re the victim of an accident. You weren’t expecting this, and it wasn’t in your plan for the day. You’re upset and distraught, and you aren’t sure what to do now that someone else’s negligence has caused you injury and/or damage to your vehicle. You’ve called the police, they showed up and filed an accident report, and now you have the insurance information of the other driver at your fingertips. What do you do now? This is the part where many accident victims become confused. Do you call your insurance agency if the accident was someone else’s fault, or do you call theirs? Do you wait for them to call their own insurance company, or do you do it yourself? What is proper protocol, and how do you handle what’s going to happen next?
Q: Should I Call Insurance Companies?
A: There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Do you call their insurance company or your own? Do you wait or do it yourself? You can do whatever you want, but there are some things to consider before you pick up the phone and begin making calls. The first is how you want to handle this specific situation. The best solution is to call your insurance company first. They can advise you how to handle a situation like this one. In many instances, your own insurance company can handle the claim for you and then seek reimbursement from the other insurance company.
Let’s say the other driver has insurance, but it’s not very good. Their car is very old and they don’t carry much more than the basics in terms of coverage. Their insurance company might not agree to rent a car for you while you’re waiting on your own car to be repaired. Your insurance company will quickly find a car for you to rent, cover the cost on your behalf, and handle the situation in full for you. They will then take their claim to the other insurance company and seek reimbursement for that.
You can call the other driver’s insurance company, but you should never negotiate with them. Instead, you should merely file the claim with them by providing the car accident report and the information you were given by the police. This is to alert them there was an accident. Some drivers forgo doing this because they don’t want to take responsibility for the accident. They hope you might just go through your own insurance and forget about theirs. You want to let them know, but you don’t want to talk to them about finances at this point. You’re merely providing them with the facts.
This is called a notice of claim. You can do this without issue, but you don’t want to discuss the claim with the insurance company any further. Your job is not to discuss anything with them other than notifying them of the claim. It’s still a good idea to contact your own insurance company and ask them what to do in this situation. They can advise you of the specifics.
Q: Should I Call an Attorney?
A: It’s not always necessary to call an attorney following an accident, but it’s helpful when you are injured and will seek damages from the accident. Damages include anything from lost wages to medical bills and more. An attorney’s job is to help you navigate the process of an accident following the occurrence. They’ll advise you what to do next, how to handle the situation, and what to say and do. They’ll always advise you to say nothing at the accident other than providing simple answers to questions asked by the police.
Attorneys also advise clients not to discuss financial information or negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance agents work to come to you with the lowest possible offer following an accident. You are always worth more than they’re willing to pay. Additionally, you might not yet be aware of how damaging your health is following the accident. If your injuries are severe, you might need more time to determine how well you can recover from them if ever. You might have lifelong medical issues that require doctors, specialized equipment, or more.
Never discuss the specifics of an accident with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and never tell them you’ll accept payment from them in a specific amount. They record everything, and anything you say can be used against you if you decide to follow a lawsuit to obtain damages from the accident. Notify them if you want, but you’d be better of calling your own insurance company or an attorney and discussing your option with them prior to doing anything else.