by Paul Brandenburg, Esq.
How Insurance Companies Process Accidents: You Can Navigate the Conversation
There are nearly 20,000 automobile accidents reported each day in the United States. Due to distracted driving, increased highway congestion, and unexpected weather events, this average number grows each year. Individuals who are employed in driving professions are keenly aware of miscellaneous roadway dangers, and they do their very best to avoid a collision.
Employ Safe Driving Habits
Defensive driving techniques are not always enough to avoid a potential accident these days. Crowded roadways are full of drivers who are focusing on electronic gadgets rather than their surroundings. Distracted driving does not have to involve a smartphone or a GPS device. Some drivers allow the pressures of the day, from a high-pressure job to a busy family schedule, to take priority over road safety.
When an auto insurance company wants to offer the best rates to new or existing customers, they offer a variety of services. Traditional customer surveys and questionnaires have been replaced by dongles that plug into the computer system of a vehicle to capture driving habits in real time. Using an algorithm, the insurance company then compiles rates according to statistics such as average speed, brake response time, and distance the driver keeps between vehicles.
Despite the best efforts of an experienced driver, there is always the possibility that an accident will occur. Just as it is important for drivers to know how to avoid an accident, they should also have a crash course about what to do if they are ever involved in one.
At the Scene of the Accident
The obvious first step after an accident is to take stock of every person involved and investigate for the presence of injuries. If a serious injury is suspected, it is best not to move the individual before help arrives. Call the police, and request emergency medical personnel if required. You can also take this opportunity to exchange contact information and insurance carrier details with the other driver or drivers involved. No one should speculate on the cause of the accident or admit fault during this phase. There are several unknown or unseen factors that will be uncovered as the investigation unfolds.
Remember that adrenaline and emotions often run high at the scene of an accident, and some drivers are not reasonable in the heat of the moment. If it feels unsafe to engage in conversation, stay in your vehicle or find a public place to wait until the police arrive. Engaging in any conversation could become a volatile situation and could start the investigation off on a bad note. Take this time to gather personal belongings from your vehicle and to take pictures of the scene. You may also consider calling for a ride if your vehicle is undrivable.
The next call a driver makes should be to the appropriate insurance company. Report that an accident has occurred, and a qualified claims adjuster or customer service representative will assist with the process of opening an insurance claim. If a tow truck and a rental vehicle are needed immediately, these individuals can assist with the arrangements and can help drivers choose an auto body repair facility. The claim number assigned is very important as it will be needed throughout the entire claims process.
Gather Relevant Documentation
There is no such thing as too much information when it comes to documenting the circumstances of a traffic accident. Dash cameras have become very popular in recent years, and their recorded feed has been used in court cases and insurance settlements countless times. Photos should be taken from every conceivable angle at the scene, providing it is safe to do so. Many cars and trucks are equipped with built in technology that captures ongoing video footage of the area surrounding the vehicle. If you need assistance accessing this data, the manufacturer or a local dealer should be able to assist.
Capturing the position of all vehicles involved is crucial. It is also important to gather relevant landmarks, such as traffic lights, street signs, and any debris in the roadway. If photos or video can help determine the cause of the accident or can confirm road conditions and precipitation at the time of the accident, they can be very useful for the auto insurance company in its investigation of the claim. A trucking accident lawyer may also request this information as a means of developing a viable case for the defense of or compensation for their client.
Since the process of a claim investigation or insurance settlement can take several long months, or even years, it is important to adequately document your findings and keep detailed records throughout the ordeal. Some of the main details to record include:
- Date and time of the accident
- Full names and contact information of all parties
- Road conditions
- Weather conditions
- License and insurance details for all involved
- Initial and ongoing medical treatment records
- Police report stating all the details of the accident
Retain Legal Counsel
After an accident occurs, you may be unsure of your position with respect to the insurance company. An experienced legal representative may be able to assist you with sorting out the details and let you know what to expect along the way. There are some cases where speaking with a lawyer can be especially helpful in fully understanding the consequences of a work-related accident.
Even a minor insurance claim could have ramifications for professional drivers. It is vital for truck drivers and other transportation professionals to fully understand what to expect when speaking with insurance company representatives. Many average people do not understand the ins and outs or the technical jargon used in legal and insurance documents. You should never sign anything that is not completely clear or that could be misinterpreted later in the claims process.
Since most insurance companies record the initial and ongoing phone calls, your statements must remain consistent. The recorded calls can also work in your favor, especially if you have an unresolved question or dispute. Most drivers allow the insurance companies to make important decisions on their behalf without realizing they have a choice in the matter.
Drivers in every state have the right to take their vehicles to the repair shops of their choice for the necessary repairs. Many states also allow individuals to seek medical attention and physical therapy at providers of their choosing. There may be some limitations on the rental car process and paid leave due to temporary loss of employment. These guidelines vary by state and by the circumstances of the accident.
If you have been involved in an accident and need assistance with navigating the claims process, contact the experienced trucking accident lawyers at Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P. – RAM Law. They offer a free review of your case, and they have decades of experience with motor vehicle accidents. You can make an appointment to visit one of their convenient offices in New Brunswick, Somerville, or Freehold, New Jersey. You can also learn more by phoning 732.394.1549 or emailing email@example.com and connecting with a representative.