Accidents happen. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 10.8 million auto accidents in 2009. No one ever means for them to happen; that’s why we call them “accidents!” The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to be prepared in the event you find yourself involved in a motor vehicle accident. DWRE has created this checklist for our clients to help them put their lives back together following an auto accident.
- Check on everyone – Cars can be replaced; people cannot. Before you focus on any damage to your vehicle, make sure everyone is OK. If not, call 911 for medical assistance.
- Be polite, but don’t admit fault. In this situation, avoid saying things like “I’m sorry” or “I wasn’t paying attention” that could possible be seen as an admission of fault, and ultimately, liability.
- Talk to any witnesses, and collect their contact information for follow up contact.
- Contact Your Insurance Company – Even if you are at fault, you should quickly report the incident to your insurance company. Similarly, it is important for you to begin keeping track of the time and money you spend perusing your claim after an accident.
- Document the damage – Take photos of your car and the other car(s) involved in the accident. It is important to have photographic proof of the damage for your insurance company and to serve as evidence. It is helpful to keep a disposable camera in your car, or snap photos with the camera on your phone. You should also take notes that detail the accident and any injuries.
- Get an Insurance estimate – The insurance company can provide a valuation of the damages, which serves as the amount you can recover to fix or replace your car. Keep in mind that you can seek estimates from outside sources if you are not satisfied with your Insurer’s valuation.
- Collect offers – You do NOT have to automatically accept the first insurance estimate or offer you get.
- Hire an attorney – In the event of a dispute with your insurance company, or the other parties involved in the accident, what began as a simple fender-bender may turn complicated, so it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel. An attorney can coach you about how to speak with your insurance company, and should the other Insurance Company contact you, it is usually best to refer them to your attorney, who will have more experience handling this sort of situation.
- Download our checklist and keep it with you in your vehicle: DWRE_AutoAccidentChecklist2013