Traffic accidents are a terrible experience. They can be terrifying even if nobody is physically injured. There’s a lot of confusion and emotions run high. And depending on how bad the accident was, it could leave you without a vehicle for at least a short amount of time.
Damage to your vehicle, trips to the doctor, rental vehicles — traffic accidents can be costly. But this is why we have insurance. It is meant to alleviate the financial burden after a traffic accident and get us back on our feet as quickly as possible.
Insurance companies, however, don’t always make this as easy as it can be. This is particularly true if the other driver is at fault and you are forced to deal with their insurance company.
Insurance companies only make money if they pay out less than they take in from monthly fees. This can lead many companies to attempt to get away with paying as little as possible when it comes time to make a claim.
So how can you be sure you get what you deserve after an accident?
Here are six tips to help you deal with insurance companies after a traffic accident:
- Get a Copy of the Police Report
- Photograph the Crash Scene
- Research the Necessary Repairs
- Don’t Provide a Statement Without a Lawyer Present
- Know Your Local Definition of a “Total Loss”
- Don’t Take a Bad Offer
1. Get a Copy of the Police Report
The first thing you should do after a traffic accident is to contact the local authorities, especially if people involved in the wreck sustained physical injuries.
The police will arrive on scene and write a report of what they find. This will include who was involved, what happened, and can even identify who they believe to be the person that caused the accident.
This report will be valuable to prove to your insurance company what happened on the day of the accident. The police will offer you a copy of this report. Take it.
2. Photograph the Crash Scene
You should try to provide any documentation possible of the crash scene. Photographs are a great way to show the results of the accident.
If you aren’t injured, and if it’s safe to do so, use your phone to photograph as much of the scene of the accident as possible.
Take pictures of the damage to your car as well as the other vehicle. And if any other pieces of property — light pole, fence, building — were struck, take pictures of those as well. Take pictures of any injuries sustained in the accident.
These photographs can be used as proof of damage when speaking with the insurance companies. Keep the photos private and do NOT share them on social media.
3. Research the Necessary Repairs
The insurance company is going to have your vehicle inspected. This will result in a quote for potential repairs. Insurance companies don’t usually work with every local car shop, however. They will usually have a partnership with specific locations.
Take the time to research the quote you were given for the repairs. This quote will be used to create the offer from the insurance company to cover the damage to your vehicle.
Verify that the quote is realistic for adequate repairs to your vehicle. Also verify that all repairs are addressed in the quote.
4. Don’t Provide a Statement Without a Lawyer Present
Insurance companies will occasionally ask you to make a recorded statement relating to the accident. They will tell you that this process is routine and that you shouldn’t think too much of it.
However, these statements can be used against you when it comes time to make an offer for the settlement.
It is not required of you to make a statement, so don’t do it. However, if you do feel the need to make a statement, speak with an accident attorney before doing so.
5. Know Your Local Definition of a “Total Loss”
One of the most feared judgements from an insurance company after an accident is the total loss. This means they have deemed your vehicle as being too damaged to fix.
But the method for determining a total loss differs between states. Educate yourself on what constitutes a total loss in your area.
For example, insurance companies in both Kentucky and Tennessee will consider a vehicle to be totaled if the repairs equal or exceed 75% of the vehicle’s worth.
6. Don’t Take a Bad Offer
Many people believe the offer from an insurance company is set in stone. But you have the option to negotiate with the insurance companies if you believe the offer doesn’t cover everything it should.
An accident attorney can help you get what you deserve from the insurance company after an accident. Remember, it’s in the insurance company’s best interest to complete the claim by paying out as little as possible.
Have you been in an accident around Nashville, TN or Bowling Green, KY? Bart Durham Injury Law has been standing up against insurance companies for decades.