Auto accidents are jarring experiences, and it can be tough to remember what you need to do to receive compensation for injuries and property damage. Many auto insurance companies and auto clubs provide checklists in their apps or proof of insurance cards to guide you.
That checklist will help you gather your thoughts at an accident scene. However, if you wish to ensure compensation, you should take additional steps. Here are five tips on what to do if someone hits your car and you want compensation.
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1. Gather Information
One important note: Insurance companies are not your allies. All insurance companies make money by denying claims; not paying them out. The opposing insurance company may look for ways to pin fault on you. Your insurance company wishes to pay out as little as possible and may deny claims based on lack of information.
Therefore, you must take the information gathering step seriously. After the accident, start by collecting:
- The other driver’s name and contact information
- Their insurance information
- Names and contact information for witnesses
- Name and badge number of law enforcement reporting to the scene
Make good use of your smartphone too. Take pictures of:
- Damage to both vehicles
- Street signs and other indicators of location
- License plates of involved vehicles
- Any apparent injuries, including bruises and abrasions
Later, you need to secure copies of:
- Accident reports
- Law enforcement reports
- Repair estimates
- Receipts for copays and medical expenses, if you sustain injuries
There is no such thing as overkill for a list of what to do if someone hits your car. You don’t know what will become important later. So when it doubt – save it.
2. See A Doctor
Medical treatment is a frequently overlooked item in knowing what to do if someone hits your car. You might be tempted to dismiss your symptoms or assume they will heal independently of medical assistance.
Even “just whiplash” can lead to long-term pain, limited range of motion, and vulnerability to future injury. Any pain level experienced after an accident could require medical attention.
Also, it is best to document your injury. Your claim is more credible the sooner you seek treatment than if you linger with symptoms for weeks. In addition, many accident injuries don’t fully manifest for days or weeks after an accident. If that’s your experience, the sooner you get the advice of a medical professional, the better.
Many people may not see the big deal with minor soft-tissue injuries. However, whiplash and back pain require pain control and physical therapy to heal fully. If your copay is $60.00 per visit and your doctor prescribes 15 physical therapy visits, those expenses add up quickly! Your settlement offer should cover those copays, plus any uninsured costs and reimbursement to your health insurance carrier.
Many drivers lose insurance claims because they fail to take care of their health. Once you establish care, attend appointments consistently. If you skip appointments or neglect treatment, that works against you when you seek compensation.
3. Work With Both Insurance Companies When Necessary
Accident victims commonly ask, “Someone hit my car: Whose insurance do I call?” The answer is – it depends. But there are good reasons to involve your insurance company and the other driver’s carrier.
First, many drivers carry medical coverage called personal injury protection (PIP.) This coverage ensures you don’t drown in medical bills while receiving treatment and recovering. Some policies also include wage reimbursement with PIP coverage, so you can receive extra payments if you miss work. If the other insurance company disputes your injuries, your insurance company can help pay your medical expenses until the matter settles.
Second, property damage is more objective, and opposing insurance companies usually don’t dispute it. You can generally handle car repair or replacement through the other driver’s company without much hassle. However, if your insurance company offers additional benefits, like loan payoff if you owe more on your car than it’s worth, it may be better to go through your policy.
There are situations where you could be stuck with one insurance company. If you carry liability-only insurance, you may have to pursue the other driver’s insurance for medical and property damages. You may also learn that the driver who hit your car is uninsured or underinsured, meaning you must rely on your coverage.
4. Document Your Expenses And Challenges
This step is essential in knowing what to do if someone hits your car and you face challenges. Injuries often lead to missed work, neglected households, childcare and property upkeep issues. You may face overdue bills and overwhelming pain.
When these challenges arise, document them. Keep a journal or symptom record, and update them every day. These current records help establish credible patterns that could lead to higher settlements. Keep the receipts if you spend any money on additional help, including house cleaning, landscaping, or child care.
Record voice memos on your mobile device if you are not in a place to write something down. If a grocery trip or other errand becomes challenging due to pain, record a voice memo indicating the date, time, nature of the chore, and how it affected you. Many people find videos or voice memos easier to record their daily activities, so feel free to use modern technology to your best advantage.
5. Communicate Carefully
You must be careful how you communicate with insurance companies and even your friends. Saying the wrong thing can have a negative effect on your claim’s value.
First, let your documentation speak for itself. Do not elaborate on receipts, medical records, accident reports, or anything you submit to an insurance company for review. You don’t need to re-explain how something happened if it is in a report, receipt, or other documents.
Second, do not discuss your accident on social media or public websites. An insurance company may construe even your positive posts as possible insurance fraud or misrepresentation of your pain. Many people avoid discussing challenging aspects of life on social media, so, if you are in the habit of making things appear not as bad as they are on Facebook, keep your accident off social media.
Finally, if you find your insurance adjuster underestimates your claim or fails to take you seriously, it’s likely time to find a personal injury attorney. Sometimes, the best course of action on what to do if someone hits your car is to hire legal assistance and allow them to manage your claim.
What To Do If Someone Hits Your Car And You Need Help
When you’re a car accident victim, it’s not easy to know what steps to take and when. A lawyer can help you when your claim process becomes difficult. Find out how by starting with a free case evaluation today.
Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.