Someone Hit My Car, Whose Insurance Do I Call?
The scenario is all too familiar: you’re going about your day when you suddenly find yourself involved in an accident. When someone hits your car, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the stress of the collision. On top of dealing with injuries and damage to your car, the last thing you feel like doing is battling with the insurance company. All of this begs the question: when hit by someone else, whose insurance company should you call?
When someone hits your vehicle, it is important to exchange information. Though it might be tempting to offer an apology to the other driver, resist the urge — especially if the accident was clearly not your fault! Instead, be polite but firm that you collect their full name, address, license plate information and car insurance policy number.
Whether the accident was a simple fender bender or a more serious collision, it’s a good idea to call the police. Move your vehicles to the side of the road when possible so you do not block traffic – or worse – cause another incident. Once police arrive, they can take statements from both drivers and document the accident. Having an official accident report on the record can make the car accident claims process easier for everyone involved.
Of course, all of this goes without saying that you should first call 911 if anyone is hurt in the collision. Help injured victims as best as you possibly can and wait for paramedics to arrive. Do not move injured victims unless absolutely necessary.
Making the Call
After leaving the scene of an accident, car insurance policyholders are required to inform their own insurance company of the incident – even if they are not responsible for the crash personally. Regardless of fault, reporting a collision to your auto insurance claims department is a duty required in most car insurance policies.
Each driver involved in the wreck should report the accident to their own insurance company. If and when the at-fault driver’s insurance company agrees to pay your claim, it is easy enough for your insurance company to close your claim. Those involved in accidents also have the option of reporting their claim to the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Chances are good, they will have already called and supplied much of the information. You will just need to call and report your side of the story.
Filing a Claim
You do not have to wait for the other driver to call their insurance company to start a claim. In fact, you can call their company yourself and get the process started. When you make the call, be sure to have the following information ready to share with the claims adjuster:
- Name, license plate number and policy number of the at-fault driver
- Address of the accident location
- Names and contact information of witnesses
- Details on the driving conditions, date and time of the accident
- Details of what happened to cause the wreck
- Police report number or badge numbers of the police officers involved
If you have documentation of any medical treatment you received because of injuries sustained in the crash, having copies on hand can also be useful when speaking to a claims adjuster. Bills and other proof of expenses may also be requested by the insurance company.
Seeking Legal Representation
If the injuries sustained in the wreck are serious or the cause of the wreck is in question, it may be a good idea to seek legal advice. A confidential consultation with a personal injury attorney is often free and can give you a good idea of where you stand legally. A lawyer can help ensure that the insurance company pays you what you deserve.
Some insurance companies are quick to offer up cash after an accident as a way to appease injured, angry drivers. Resist the urge to take their first offer without having an attorney looking it over first. Many companies try to send victims a check for the property portion of their claim and a small sum for the bodily injury portion, too.
When they send such a check, they require victims to sign off on an agreement to not seek additional compensation from the company. Too many injured victims sign such contracts without realizing they are forfeiting their rights to sue. A personal injury attorney can walk victims through the claims process and ensure they are not waiving their rights away for an immediate (albeit small) payout.
An attorney can also help should the insurance company deny your claim or offer a settlement that you feel is too low. Negotiating with the insurance company can be stressful. Allow a lawyer to be your advocate while you recover and relax.
The days and weeks following a car accident can be overwhelming, but knowledge is power. By doing your homework, understanding the claims process and knowing your rights, you better your odds of taking home a fair settlement. Just don’t be afraid to work with a personal injury attorney if you feel you’re facing an uphill battle with the insurance company!