Like most California drivers, you know the basics of what to do after an auto accident. You’ve exchanged names and numbers, you have all the other driver’s insurance information, and even took photos of the damage to your vehicle. But no matter how calm and collected you feel afterward (or not), many questions are still going through your mind after an automobile collision. What happens now? Who do I talk to? What do I say? What should I avoid saying?
Should I call my own insurance company after even a minor accident?
Let your own auto insurance company speak — and work — for you. While you’ve got your California car insurance information in hand, call them as soon as you can speak privately. It’s actually your duty — and an obligation per your car insurance policy contract — to work with your own carrier.
What should you say to your insurance company after an accident?
Start by providing the basic facts about your accident in the Bay Area, and answer questions about the accident as simply and in the best way you can. It’s understandable you may be upset after getting into an accident with another vehicle, and might have difficulty recalling every little detail of the incident. It’s okay to estimate or generalize if you’re not completely certain about specifics.
On the other hand, limit what you say to anyone else
You aren’t required to provide anything to the other party’s auto insurance carrier, so don’t talk to them unless it’s necessary to get your own car fixed after an accident. If they do question you, just let them know you (or your insurance company or lawyer) will get back to them. And never permit a recorded statement.
Do I need to call my insurance company even if it wasn’t my fault?
Don’t assume it was your fault, or that it wasn’t your fault. It helps to keep in mind that accidents always involve more than one individual. Even if you’re the kind of person to take pride in admitting when you’re at fault, you’d definitely be in the wrong to immediately take the blame for an accident. There are experts who figure these things out by sorting through all the evidence, so let them do their job. It’s far better to be surprised by finding evidence on your side rather than an unexpected rate hike or a disappointing settlement.
Should I call a lawyer after my car accident?
The other party’s insurance company may not like it, but it’s always in your best interest to get advice from someone you trust. An experienced car accident attorney will be knowledgeable about your situation as it relates to California law, and will be committed to ensuring your rights are protected and you receive fair compensation.
How long do I have to report an accident to my car insurance company?
Sometimes, we’re asked questions like “I was so upset after my accident that I didn’t think to call a lawyer right away. Is it too late?” Although the statute of limitations for these types of cases against private persons and companies is two years for injury claims and three years for property damage, claims against public entities such as Muni, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, etc., must be filed within six months. Again, a reputable lawyer can help you decide whether it makes sense to engage their services, and typically offers an initial consultation at no charge.
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