Even the best drivers get into car accidents. When it happens to you, do you know what to do? If you want to avoid financial ruin following a car accident, these are the steps you need to take.
Never drive uninsured:
This advice won’t do much good after the fact, but if you’re wondering the best thing you can do to protect yourself in a car accident, the answer is clear: Maintain car insurance.
Driving uninsured isn’t only illegal in most cases, it can lead to serious financial consequences. Uninsured drivers who are at fault in an accident are responsible for paying damages and medical bills out of their own pockets. Even if you’re not at fault, getting caught driving without insurance comes with steep penalties, including a suspended driver’s license.
Don’t assume the minimum coverage required by your state is enough to protect you financially. Since Nevada doesn’t require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or no-fault coverage (also known as personal injury protection), it’s possible to find very cheap car insurance. On average, Nevada policies only cost $104 a month. However, you may want to buy more coverage so you’re protected no matter the circumstances considering that one out of every five Nevada drivers is uninsured or underinsured
The first steps to take after an accident:
If you’ve just been in an accident, the first priority is safety — for you and for other drivers on the road. Stay calm and take these steps while waiting for help to arrive:
- Turn on your hazards. This helps other drivers see you and get out of the way.
- Check for injuries. If you have abdominal pain, fainting, loss of movement, or another serious injury, stay put and call 911.
- Move off the road. If you’re not severely injured and can safely do so, move your car to a safe area like the shoulder. If your car is inoperable, get out and move to a safe area yourself.
- Call the police. Even if the accident was minor, you should always call the police after a collision. The police will take a report, which you’ll need to file an insurance claim. A police report also protects you from fraudulent injury claims by the other driver.
- Exchange information. Once it’s safe, exchange insurance, license plate, and personal information with other drivers involved in the crash. You should also collect contact information for any eyewitnesses.
- Document the scene. Taking pictures of the accident scene and your injuries will help your case during the insurance claim process.
How to file a car insurance claim
When it’s time to file your auto insurance claim, you’ll be grateful you took the right steps at the scene of the accident.
Every car insurance company has its own policies regarding claims, but in general, you’ll have a limited time after the accident to file a claim, submit bills, and resolve claim disputes. Your insurer will require documentation, including the police report, before assigning an insurance adjuster to determine fault and the extent of damage.
If the other driver is at fault, you’ll be working with their insurance company instead of your own. If the other driver isn’t forthcoming with insurance information or the insurance settlement isn’t adequate to cover your expenses, you may need to hire legal representation to file a lawsuit.
What if you’re injured in a car accident?
If you were injured in a car accident, seek treatment as soon as possible and document all medical costs and lost wages due to missed work. Delaying medical care weakens your case in a personal injury claim. It’s recommended to hire a lawyer any time you’re injured in a car accident.
Keep in mind that it takes time to receive a settlement for personal injuries related to a car accident. In the meantime, you’ll need to pay your own medical bills. If you have medical payments or no-fault coverage, you may be able to receive reimbursement from your own insurance company sooner.
It’s hard to think clearly in the aftermath of a car accident. However, taking the right steps following an accident saves you major headaches and a lot of money when filing car insurance claims. Drive safely, but just in case, make sure you know what to do if you’re involved in an automobile collision.
Article By Burt Sims