Unless it was a minor fender-bender with no discernible damage, you should inform your insurance company after an accident.
Read on to find out what to do after an accident, how to make a claim with an insurance company, what happens after you contact the insurance company, and what you should absolutely do before making a statement.
What to do after an accident
If you’ve been involved in an auto collision that resulted in damage and/or injury, call 911. The police and, if necessary, emergency medical personnel will come to the scene. The police will conduct a report, which you will need later if you file a claim. Get the police officer’s name, the report number, and a copy of the report.
Get the information from the other driver or drivers. This includes: name, address, phone number, email, insurance information, license plate number, driver’s license number, and make and model of vehicle. Also get the contact information of any passengers. Seek out witnesses, and get their names and contact information. Photograph the accident, the road conditions, and your injuries.
Seek medical care, even if you don’t feel you need it. The shock of an accident can overshadow the symptoms of conditions such as whiplash. If you do not seek medical care and later find you have injuries you wish to include in your claim, you may not be able to include these injuries.
Report the incident to your insurance company, and to the other driver’s insurance company if he or she is at least partially at fault.
You can read more about what to do after an accident in our article here.
Liability in an accident
If the accident was wholly your fault, you should contact your insurance company and file a claim under your collision coverage, if you have it. If the accident was totally or partially the fault of the other driver, you should contact both your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company.
Arizona is what is known as a comparative negligence state. This means drivers can be deemed liable for a percentage of their responsibility for the accident. So, you might be found 30 percent to blame for the accident, and the other driver might be 70 percent at-fault. In that case, you would be entitled to receive 70 percent of the damages. These might include reimbursement for medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses such as a rental car, pain and suffering, and lost wages if you are unable to work for a time.
Filing a claim with your insurance company
When you call your insurance company to file a claim, you’ll need to give them:
• Your name and policy number.
• Your policy’s start and end date.
• The date and time of the accident.
• The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
• The driver’s license number and license plate numbers for all the drivers.
Your insurance company might also ask you to make a sworn statement about the specifics of the auto accident, the vehicle damage, and your injuries. It is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney before you make a statement to your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company.
What happens when you make a claim?
After you file a claim, you’ll set a process in motion:
1. A professional at the auto insurance company will be assigned to work on your claim.
2. You’ll meet with that claims worker to discuss your coverage.
3. The claims professional will inspect your car, look into evidence of injury claims, and evaluate your case. A payment may be made at this point.
4. Your case will be resolved, and any payments due to you will be made.
Can I contact my insurance company to help me get a rental car if my car is being repaired?
We have written about this topic in more detail here. But here’s the answer in a nutshell. If you need a rental car following an accident and the accident was the other driver’s fault, the other driver’s insurance company should cover your rental car.
However, if liability in the case is being debated, or if the accident was your fault, or if the other driver’s insurance company is giving you the runaround, you can contact your own insurance company. But your insurance company will pay for or reimburse your rental car only if you have rental reimbursement coverage.
Should I contact my insurance company if the at-fault driver has no insurance?
Again, we have written about this topic more in detail here. But here is the short answer. If the at-fault driver has no insurance or inadequate insurance to cover your damages, you can file a claim against your own insurance company. But you can do this only if you have uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage.
Clearly, dealing with auto insurance issues can be complex. If you have questions, and before you make a statement to any insurance company, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The Lamber-Goodnow Personal Injury Legal Team offers free consultations to accident victims. There is no obligation and no out-of-pocket cost. We get paid only if you get paid.