Police report vs. collision report
If the police arrive at the scene of the collision, they will usually prepare a police report, even if you don’t ask for one. The officer will give you a case number – you will later use the case number to obtain the report. If the police do not respond to your collision, you should prepare and file a “collision report”.
Damage to your vehicle
Getting your car repaired will probably be one of your top priorities. The law requires that insurance companies promptly pay property damage claims where fault for the collision has become reasonably clear. You may want to consider obtaining several repair estimates from quality auto repair facilities in your area. Start by asking family and friends for references.
Call an attorney BEFORE you call the insurance company
The best advice is to contact an experienced attorney before you call any insurance company. The attorney will be able, even over the telephone, to give you valuable advice before you do something that might damage your claims.
If the collision was not your fault, you should contact the other party’s carrier, advise them of the collision facts, and ask that they confirm coverage for the collision. Unfortunately, just because somebody has an insurance card, it does not necessarily mean that his or her coverage is still valid or hasn’t been canceled due to non-payment. Always call to check.
Determine the coverage provided in your own policy
Towing and Storage
If your car needs to be towed, check to see if your policy pays some or all of the towing or storage bill.
While your car is being repaired (or while you’re looking for a new vehicle), check to see if you have car rental coverage under your own policy. If you did not cause the collision, the other party is responsible for your rental car expenses, but you should contact their carrier before you rent a vehicle.
Visit your doctor immediately if you need to
If you have any symptoms of injury or pain resulting from the collision, get checked out by a medical professional right away. If you are injured, but do not seek medical attention, you will be damaging your ability to get full compensation.
PIP or MedPay coverage
Your insurance policy may provide PIP or MedPay coverage. If you have this coverage, reasonable, necessary, and related medical bills will be paid. In order to request payment, you should contact your own carrier and submit the appropriate applications.
Take photographs and maintain a diary of injury and its effects
A daily diary can help you document the effect injuries have had on you and your daily activities. Include information about medical treatment, prescribed exercises, and medications. Also, take photographs of your vehicle and your injuries until the injuries have resolved.
- A CNN article which describes how insurance companies like State Farm and Allstate are saving billions of dollars by underpaying accident victims;
- An Insurance Journal article which covers consumer group and whistle-blower allegations that insurance companies are manipulating computer claims programs they use to underpay injury claims; and
- An internal (and formerly confidential) Allstate memo which describes their tactics to keep your settlement value as low as possible.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is provided as a free service to consumers and does not constitute legal advice. Nothing contained herein should be relied upon as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.