The decisions you make in the hours, days and weeks following a car accident can have a lasting impact on your health, your finances and more. As much as we’d all like to think an accident will never happen to us, in Nevada alone, car accidents of varying severity are a fact of life for hundreds of people every day. In this article, we’ll take a quick look at some of best ways to meet your legal responsibilities while ensuring your interests are protected after a crash.
Immediately After an Accident
Car accidents are the type of dramatic event that can change everything in a split second. Your first priority should be to remain calm. These can be emotional moments, but getting angry or defensive doesn’t help anything. Take a second to breathe and collect yourself. Then, check for injuries. If you or any of your passengers are hurt, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to move anyone who has been injured.
If there are no injuries and it is safe to do so, pull over to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. This is a good time to take a second and replay the incident in your mind. If you can, write down what happened as you remember it — this will help you avoid giving contradictory information when reporting the car accident to your insurance company or the police.
When to Report a Car Accident to the Police
If the accident involves obvious damage to either vehicle (i.e., the vehicle can’t be driven) or an injury of any severity, it should be reported to police immediately. A 911 operator will dispatch an officer to your location, and if necessary an ambulance or tow truck. When talking to the police, be honest but stick to the facts and choose your words carefully. Don’t offer up information that isn’t requested and don’t give an official statement until you’ve had the opportunity to speak with a personal injury lawyer.
If police are not called to the scene, your insurance company may require you to file a report after the fact. This can be necessary when fault is in question or when damages exceed a certain threshold. Contact your local police department for assistance. Just as you would at the scene of the accident, when speaking with an officer, be straightforward and honest, and relate what happened as clearly as you remember it — without unnecessary embellishment.
When to Report a Car Accident to Your Insurance Company
The short answer to the question of when to report a car accident to your insurance company is — almost always. You pay for insurance for a reason, and if you’re not at fault, your rates likely won’t go up. Even if you are responsible, the hassle of trying to pay for an accident out of pocket isn’t worth the small bump you may experience in your premium. Here’s why:
- Proper repairs are expensive. Even if the visible damage is minimal, mechanical and body work for a simple repair job can easily cost thousands of dollars.
- Filing a claim gives you long-term protection. Paying out of pocket offers you little or no recourse if repairs fail or if further damage is discovered after the fact.
- Injuries may not be obvious. Filing an insurance claim after a car accident gives you the option of pursuing compensation for medical expenses and lost wages that occur as a result.
The only time it’s worth it to avoid contacting your insurance is in the event of a single vehicle accident with no readily noticeable damage. If there are no other parties involved (say, for example, you scrape your bumper in a parking lot), feel free to get an estimate for repairs first and then decide whether or not to file a claim.
If you’ve been involved in an accident of any severity, get a clearer picture of your rights and responsibilities by contacting Dallas Horton & Associates. Call our office to book a free consultation today.