5 things you should know after you’ve been involved in a car accident that is not your fault
You could be involved in an accident at any time. You might be on your way to work, heading to the airport for a long-anticipated vacation, or driving home after picking your child up from school. No matter where you are headed or what you are doing, there is no dispute that being in an accident is a huge hassle, and it can be hard to know what to do or where to turn to for help. While this is not an exhaustive list, it is meant as a guide to help you get started.
First, if there is more than a minor scrape on your car or you think you or someone in your car might have an injury, it is important that you contact the police and get a police report. Having a police report that accurately describes what happened in the accident is helpful for the insurance companies to make their determination of fault. While the police officer’s determination of fault is not binding, it is often used by the insurance companies in their assessment and will help you if the other driver lies to his/her insurance company about what happened in the accident.
Second, if you think you have an injury, get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. While many serious injuries are apparent, such as a broken leg, oftentimes muscle strain injuries take a few days to really show up. If you are feeling any pain, don’t just assume it will go away on its own. Get checked out to be safe. If it turns out you do have an injury, the longer you wait after the accident to get medical treatment, the more difficult it will be to prove that your injury is related to the accident.
Third, if your vehicle has damage and you have full coverage insurance, then you have a choice whether you want to use your own insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance to pay for the damage. While many people choose to have the other insurance company pay for the damage, this can take a long time. Since your insurance company has a contract with you, they are much more inclined to provide timely service, and you may be able to get your car fixed faster. Then, once it’s fixed, your insurance company will fight with the at-fault party’s insurance company to recover their money. This process is called subrogation.
Fourth, make sure you ask your insurance company about medical payment coverage. Insurance companies are required to provide a minimum of $2,000 in medical payment coverage on any policy that is sold in Maine, and many policies have much higher limits. Many people don’t even realize they have this insurance, but it can be extremely useful, especially if you don’t have health insurance or you have a high deductible plan.
Fifth, when you report your claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you are not obligated to give a “recorded statement.” Many times the insurance company will ask you to do so, but you can, and should, decline. Be advised, however, that you may be required to provide a recorded statement to your own insurance company.
Finally, if you’ve been injured and you have any questions on how to handle your claim, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney.