What do I do if I’m involved in an Auto Accident?

If you are involved in an accident—

Do stop at once. Report the accident to the nearest police station. Do this even if the accident seems too trivial to bother with. This will protect you against a hit and run charge.

Don’t allow your car to be towed to a repair shop you are not familiar with. Don’t authorize any repairs by signing a towing release unless you have decided to have your car repaired by the shop your car is being towed to. Read and understand any papers you sign before you sign them.

Do make sure no one is injured. Transport any injured person to the hospital. If injuries appear serious, call an ambulance. If you have any reason to suspect you were injured in the accident, see a physician promptly. You’ll want it on record that you sought treatment right away – not a week or so later.

Don’t give a signed statement to the claims adjuster representing the other driver’s insurance company. The same goes for a phone recording. They may be used against you in court.

Do write a complete description of the accident as soon as possible. Use this handy accident record to help you gather important information. If possible, take pictures, even if it means returning to the scene of the accident at a later time. If you do return at a later time, bring a friend to witness the picture taking.

Don’t finalize settlement of your claim until you are sure you’ve recovered, all bills are in, and you’ve had time to decide what you want.

Do notify your insurance company. Some people don’t notify their insurance company if the claim appears small and there are no apparent injuries. They do this when they are at fault so their insurance premium won’t increase, but what happens if the person they hit claims a back injury six months later? Settling the claim yourself is dangerous. Be careful. At the very least, use a release similar to this one on the back of your check— “Acceptance of this check will constitute full and complete settlement of all claims associated with the accident of (date)” Follow all prescribed procedures when reporting an accident to your insurance company. Note the dates and names of all insurance company representatives you talk with so you know who to contact if trouble develops.

Don’t hire just any lawyer. If you feel you need legal counsel, hire a lawyer who specializes in negligence cases, and has court experience.

Do find out what accident reports you must fill out. Minimum damage that must be reported is

$____________________
How soon?____________________
State Department to be notified____________________

Don’t accept a check for the repair of your car until you’re sure it covers all the necessary repairs. You alone are responsible for having your car repaired and to see that it’s done right. The role of the insurance company is to collect premiums and pay claims. Naturally, they try to hold down claims as much as possible. Your responsibility is to yourself. It’s your car. Have your car repaired to your satisfaction by the shop of your choice.

Do be aware of the “Appraisal Clause” in your insurance policy. If the insurance company and the body shop cannot agree on what the repairs should cost, this could provide a means for fair settlement.

Don’t be fooled by “the lowest estimate.” There is a big difference in body shops. A low bid could reflect an incomplete job. When some items (like alignment) are overlooked on a repair, the consequences to the driver can be serious. An improperly repaired car, especially one with heavy structural damage, is like a time bomb waiting to go off. Exercise your right to determine which shop repairs your car. Make sure every detail has been attended to and repaired to your complete satisfaction before signing any insurance company releases.

Do have even minor damage repaired. Letting your car go unrepaired can cost you in the long run. Dents and rust spots deduct from the resale or trade in value of your car. You’re going to pay for it eventually, so you might as well drive a car that’s in first-class condition now.

GET THESE FACTS IN CASE OF ACCIDENT

Date____________________ Time____________________
Location____________________ City____________________
Driving which direction____________________ Which side of street____________________
At intersection __ Between block __ Were your lights on?____________________
Weather condition____________________ Street condition____________________
Insurance Co.____________________ Policy No.____________________
Other drivers name________________________________________
Address________________________________________
License No.____________________ Phone____________________

WITNESSES NAMES

Officer present________________________________________
Witness name____________________ Phone____________________
Address________________ City________________ State________________
Witness name____________________ Phone____________________
Address________________ City________________ State________________
Witness name____________________ Phone____________________
Address________________ City________________ State________________

LIST OF INJURED

Name of injured________________________________________
Address____________________ Phone____________________
Nature of injuries________________________________________
Hospital________________ Home________________ Physician________________
Name of injured________________________________________
Address____________________ Phone____________________
Nature of injuries________________________________________
Hospital________________ Home________________ Physician________________

PROPERTY DAMAGE

Name of Owner____________________ License#____________________
Address________________________________________
Phone____________________ Describe____________________
_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

Draw diagram of accident showing the direction of both cars and the point of accident. Show Street names and location of street signs (stop signs, etc.)
Describe any other damage or pertinent details below—
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
________________________________________
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Print out a copy of this accident report and keep it in your glove box.