Immediately Following the Accident
If you have been in an accident, you should follow the same steps regardless of fault. Check on the status of the passengers in your vehicle, and if you are able, check the status of all others involved in the accident. If your accident was severe, call 911 immediately. If your accident wasn’t severe, you should still notify the police. Each state has it’s own requirements for reporting accidents to the police. If the police do not come to the accident scene you should still file a police report.
If the police come to the scene of the accident, you should refrain from making statements against your interest in their presence. Only state the facts of the accident. The police will investigate the scene and may assign fault.
After an auto accident, regardless of fault, you should seek medical attention. You may have sustained serious injuries that need medical attention. To cover the cost of your medical care, you can use your health insurance, your auto insurance (if coverage is provided in your policy), or if you live in a no-fault state you can use PIP. However, if you wait too long to seek medical attention, your insurance company may reject your claim.
What to Avoid
You should not leave the scene of the accident, nor should you hide any evidence that might be present at the scene. These actions could result in criminal penalties.
Furthermore, at the scene of the accident, you should refrain from making statements against your interest. These statements can include phrases that indicate your fault or that address what you were doing prior to the accident. Keep in mind, your words may be used against you when the other party submits a claim against your insurance.
Interacting With the Insurance Following an Accident
At the scene of the accident, you should notify your insurance company of the accident. You should provide your insurance with the facts of the case, but do not admit fault. The insurance company will conduct its own investigation of the accident and will come to its own determinations of fault.
If you have collision or comprehensive insurance, you may be able to make a claim against your auto insurance to provide coverage for medical treatment, and property damage. However, comprehensive insurance will only cover accidents where the opposing object was something other than another vehicle, such as an animal or a stationary object. If you live in a no-fault state, you will have access to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. PIP will provide coverage for medical expenses, wage loss, and funeral benefits up to your policy limits.
However, your insurance will also have to provide coverage for the party who wasn’t at fault. If the cost of their injuries exceeds what is available through your policy, you will be liable to cover the remainder of their fees.
If you are at fault, or if over 50% of fault is assigned to you, your insurance premiums may rise. However, select companies offer accident forgiveness, and if you purchased this plan prior to your accident, your premium will not rise.