Were you recently in a car accident?
Every year, there are over 4 million car accidents in the United States that result in property damage. Hopefully, you weren’t hurt during your crash. However, even if you didn’t sustain any injuries, it can still be stressful figuring out how to handle damage to your car.
To help you out, we’ve created this short guide all about handling the aftermath of a car accident. From calling the police, to talking to your insurance company, we’ll show you exactly what you need to do.
Read on to learn how to handle car damage, the right way.
Safety First After a Car Crash
First things first, when you’re involved in a car crash you need to make sure you and your passengers are safe. Staying in the path of oncoming traffic could cause you to be the victim of a second crash. If your car’s drivable, move your car completely off the road.
For undrivable cars, you’ll want to wait for a break in traffic before you try exiting your vehicle. Next, check yourself and your passengers for any injuries.
Always Call the Police
Even if the accident’s minor, you need to call the police. Trying to negotiate with the other driver can cause all sorts of problems.
For instance, let’s say someone rear-ends you at a red light, and the damage to your bumper seems minor. The driver offers to pay you $500, to save you both the hassle of dealing with the cops.
If you take the money, and later find out the damage’s more extensive, you’ll have a hard time getting your claim approved by your insurance provider. Why?
Insurance providers almost always require a police report to approve your claim. Lastly, when the police arrive, make sure you get the badge # and name of the responding officer.
Gathering Evidence at the Accident Scene
In addition to the police report, there are other key pieces of evidence you can collect at the accident scene. For instance, it’s always a good idea to do a quick voice recording with your phone, where you recount the details of the accident.
Next, take a lot of photographs. Take photos of both vehicles, the damage, the road you’re on, and as well as the weather conditions.
How to Handle Parking Lot Accidents
Was your car parked when the damage occurred? Every year, distracted drivers cause over 50,000 parking lot accidents.
Hopefully, the other driver was responsible enough to leave a note with their contact information. However, if the parking lot accident was a hit and run, there are still things you can do to fix the situation.
For starters, call the non-emergency phone number to get a police officer to come to you. Next, you’ll need to contact your insurance company right away and let them know what happened.
Best Type of Evidence to Gather
Write down the time you arrived at the parking lot, as well as the time of day when you noticed the accident. Next, take photos of the damage from different angles. You should also photograph any skid marks or broken glass on the ground.
Scanning the parking lot, look for any potential witnesses. For example, if there’s a nearby outdoor dining area, it’s possible one of the patrons saw the crash take place.
If you do find a witness you’ll want to politely ask for their name and phone number. Finally, go back into the store to find out if they have any surveillance cameras that may have caught the accident on tape.
Do You Carry Roadside Coverage?
Was your car damaged so badly it’s undrivable? Instead of letting the police call a tow truck, double check your insurance coverages. You may have roadside coverage that will cover the cost of a tow.
Since car accidents are emotionally upsetting, don’t expect yourself to remember what type of coverages you have. Instead, call your insurance provider and let them walk you through the process.
In addition to roadside coverage, you should also find out if you have rental reimbursement coverages. If you do have rental reimbursement you’ll be able to get a rental car while your vehicles getting repaired or replaced.
When It’s Time to Hire a Car Crash Lawyer
In certain situations, it’ll be in your best interest to hire an experienced accident attorney. Oftentimes, car accident lawyers will offer free consultations, so you don’t have anything to lose by reaching out for help.
During the consultation, you’ll be able to find out whether or not you need legal help. For instance, if there was severe property damage, or you were injured, a lawyer can help you get the right amount of compensation. It’s also a good idea to hire a lawyer if you suspect the accident was your fault.
Next, whenever there are multiple vehicles involved in a crash, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer to walk you through the claims process. Lastly, if your insurance company is denying your claim, or offering you a low ball offer, it’s time to lawyer up!
Tips for Talking to Insurance Companies
It can be intimidating talking to insurance companies, especially when you don’t know what to expect. However, as long as you avoid saying the wrong things, your insurance provider will be able to make a bad situation better.
For starters, no matter what type of crash you were in, never admit guilt to your insurance provider. Instead, stick to the facts as you report the crash.
Your insurance company is going to want to know where you were driving to, as well as how fast you were driving. Next, they’re going to ask you who was in your vehicle at the time of the crash. Moving on, your insurance company’s going to want to know what caused the accident, as well as what type of damage you’ve sustained.
Even if the other driver was at fault, you’ll still want to talk to your insurance provider. You should avoid talking to the other driver’s insurance company, and instead let your attorney handle their questions.
How Deductibles Work
While you should always call the police after a car accident, not all crashes warrant filing a claim. For instance, let’s say you back into a pole while exiting a parking lot, causing minor damage to your car. If the damage isn’t significantly more than your deductible, it’s not worth your time to file a claim.
Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay before your insurance coverages kick in. So for instance, if you have a $500 deductible, and cause $100 of damage to your vehicle, you should pay for the repairs on your own.
Be careful about when you call or don’t call your insurance provider. The moment you start filing a claim for car damage you’ll have a claim history, even if you don’t recover any money.
Will Your Insurance Rates Go up?
Moving on, every insurance company rates accidents differently. Even if you live in one of the 10 states with cheap car insurance rates, multiple car accidents can cause your policy premiums to skyrocket.
If the accident’s 100% your fault, you can expect your rates to go up. Also, at-fault accidents will cause you to lose any type of safe driving discounts you may have been receiving.
If you are found partially liable for the accident, your rate increases will be less severe. However, if the other driver’s found 100% liable for the crash, you shouldn’t have to worry about your rates going up.
How to Get Your Car Repaired
Whatever you do, resist the urge to repair your car before the insurance adjuster’s had a chance to check it out. You should also avoid doing the repairs yourself. Your insurance company usually won’t reimburse you for self-repairs.
After filing a claim with your insurance provider, follow their advice as far as what repair shop you’re allowed to go to. Going to unauthorized repair shops could mean you’ll be on the hook for the total cost of repairs.
Handling Damage to Your Car the Right Way
It can be startling how many different emotions bubble up when you’re in a car accident. From anger to stress, you may feel as if your entire life’s been turned upside down.
However, as long as you follow the tips in this article, you can keep a bad situation from becoming worse. Remember to gather evidence showing the damage to your car, and reach out to a lawyer if you think you need legal help.
Do you need something to help you take your mind off things? Have fun exploring some of the lighthearted articles on our site.