Whether you at fault or not, the aftermath of an auto accident is not fun. Besides worrying about your health and the health of others involved, expect to exchange information, deal with insurance companies, wait for damage assessments and repair your vehicle.
How can you better your favor after being involved in an auto accident? Do things by the book. Following the proper steps below could help relieve some of the non-medical-related headaches caused by a crash.
1. Check yourself and others for injuries
If you’re able to move without hindering pain, check yourself and others involved in the collision for injuries. If need be, call 911 immediately. Consider contacting the police; an official report can put you in a better light in the eyes of the insurance company.
2. Move the vehicles to a safe location
If the cars are still drivable and in the roadway, move them to a safe space on the shoulder or to a side road before exchanging information.
3. Exchange information and take detailed notes
Take detailed pictures, videos and notes of the damage to your and the other driver’s vehicle. As cited by NerdWallet, the app WreckCheck allows you to record the time of the crash, write detailed notes and record any audio detail as well. Many car insurance companies offer similar apps.
Also, collect the following specifics:
- The driver’s full name and the name of their insurance company and policy number
- The driver’s and witnesses contact information (if they’re willing to surrender that information)
- Photo and video of any damage to both vehicles
- The name, contact and badge number of the police officer on the scene
- The police report number
- The location of the accident
- The type, make and model of the other vehicle involved in the accident
- The driver’s license and license plate number of the driver and vehicle involved
4. Figure out what insurance coverage applies to your case
Insurance coverage differs depending on who is at-fault and the type of insurance they carry (if any). If the other driver was at fault, expect their insurance company to pay for the damages to your vehicle up to the driver’s policy limit.
If you sustained injuries that required medical attention, the other driver’s policy should include liability coverage to cover the medical bills. If the state where the accident occurred is a “no-fault” state (Louisiana in not), the personal injury protection in your policy will go toward your medical bills.
If the at-fault driver didn’t have insurance or if their policy didn’t cover the extent of your vehicle’s repairs and your medical bills, consider pursuing uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Louisiana does not require either type of coverage.
If you were at fault for the accident, your car damages would be covered in the amount of its “cash value” by your policy’s collision coverage, minus the deductible. Your car insurance and health insurance companies work in tandem to determine any coverage for your sustained injuries.
5. Should you file a claim?
Minor accidents may look trivial, which could entice the at-fault driver to offer a cash payment toward the vehicle repairs. If you are the at-fault driver, keep in mind that bills for any vehicle repair, no matter how minor, are often much more expensive than previously anticipated.
If you end up filing a claim against the at-fault driver, follow the steps below:
- File the claim with your insurance company; they will ask for a deductible before the process can begin. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, your deductible may be refunded.
- If the driver’s liability coverage is not enough to cover your medical bills, turn to your personal collision coverage (optional) or underinsured motorist coverage (not required in Louisiana).
- If the other driver’s insurance company deems them at-fault, you will ask you to get a repair estimate or wait for an insurance adjuster to inspect the vehicle.