According to studies, one person dies as a result of an auto accident every 12 minutes, while every 14 seconds one person is injured. Most individuals who drive are involved in a car accident at least once in their lives. It is helpful, then, to know what to do in the event you’re involved in a collision. Here are a few frequently asked questions about auto accidents.
I’ve Just Been in a Car Accident. What Do I Do?
The first thing to do in the event of an accident is to check on everyone in the car. If anyone has sustained any injuries, call 911. Severely injured people shouldn’t be moved unless by paramedics, as they may have a neck or back injury that needs to be braced. If the driver and any passengers have minor injuries, turn on the car’s hazard lights and try to move it out of the way of traffic if possible. Once the car is out of the way, turn off the engine. If another vehicle was involved, get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, type of vehicle, and insurance information. In cases where the other person refuses to give you his or her information, call the police. Then take as many photos of the car damage and personal injuries as you can. You may wish to call a police officer anyway, as they will file a police report, which you can later use to file insurance claims. The police officer will also be able to take down witness reports.
How Do I File a Claim?
Different auto insurance companies will have different methods of contact. Some companies will have apps, some phone numbers, and some e-mails. If the other driver was at fault, you could contact their insurance company to make a claim, called a third-party claim, in Ohio. If you are in another state with no-fault laws, you must rely on your insurance company to pay damages first before pursuing additional compensation from the other driver. Visit the insurance company’s website for contact information, as they will likely have an entire section dedicated to filing claims.
To be compensated adequately, make a claim as soon as possible. The documentation you took just after the car accident, any police report filed, and any witness reports taken down can all be used to prove your claim. Submit copies of this documentation to your insurer and keep copies for own files.
Should I See a Doctor?
After an accident, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. While you may feel fine now, muscle or tendon damage could manifest in another day or two. Internal bleeding is also difficult to determine if you’re not a medical professional and can be dangerous if left untreated. If you were injured as a result of the accident, you could also use your medical records or doctor’s note to contribute to any personal injury claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Each insurance company has its own particular timeframes for filing a claim, called a statute of limitations. Check your policy or ask an agent or the insurance company for more information.
What Do I Do If the Other Driver Has No Insurance?
While Ohio has penalties for driving without insurance, it does not have laws in place regarding insurance companies and their inclusion of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). If your insurance policy has UIM coverage, your insurance will cover the damages up to a certain amount. If your policy did not include UIM, you could sue the uninsured driver to cover the cost of compensation. This suit cannot be resolved without the consent of your insurance company.
What Do I Do If the Other Driver Leaves?
If you can’t reason with the other person, or they never stopped to begin with, try to get their license plate number, car description, and their physical description (e.g., height, weight, hair color). The police can use this in their investigation to find the other driver and press charges. In many states, it’s illegal to leave the scene of a car accident without providing identifying information. If you have UIM coverage, you can also file a claim with your insurance company.
What Do I Do If the Other Driver’s Insurance Agent Contacts Me?
You’re not legally obligated to speak with them directly. If the company needs information, you can tell them to contact your attorney and give the agent your lawyer’s information. A car accident lawyer will know how to handle the insurance company of the other driver, particularly if they try and deny liability when the accident was the other driver’s fault. You also do not need to provide any documented statement or release your medical files to the insurance company of the other driver.
How Can I Get My Car Repaired?
If your insurance company supports it, you can contact an agent for car repairs. Depending on your policy, they will make the vehicle repairs themselves. If the other driver was at fault, your insurance company would then seek repayment from the at-fault driver.
How Do I Get Around If My Car Was Totaled?
If your vehicle was completely ruined by the accident, you could get a rental car while it’s being repaired. Typically, the at-fault driver’s company will pay for the rental, but if they deny liability, contact your insurance company about a rental. They can seek reimbursement from the other insurance company.
What If Insurance Doesn’t Fully Cover My Injuries or Recovery?
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company and your insurance are insufficient to pay for extensive medical care, you should talk to your lawyer. You’re eligible for full health care coverage, even if care becomes too expensive for either company. Some injuries will last a lifetime, which means you’ll need medical care for years. If neither insurance company carries coverage to that extent, a personal injury attorney can fight for you in court.
Make sure you’re fully covered in the event of a car accident. Contact us to speak with one of our Columbus auto accident attorneys for more information or a free consultation.