If you suffered harm in a car accident recently, your first avenue of recourse will be filing a car insurance claim to compensate for damages. Insurance law differs from state to state, and each company may have unique policies when it comes to accident reporting and filing claims.
To get insight and information on your case, speak to a Houston accident attorney.
If you have Texas AAA insurance, here’s what you need to know about your steps following a car accident:
Your First Steps
The immediate aftermath of an accident often proves chaotic, but it’s essential to keep a level head. Remain calm and pull your vehicle over to the side of the road. Make sure that all passengers and drivers are physically okay, and call emergency medical services for anyone injured. Regardless of insurance policy, assuring everyone’s safety is the most important first step.
If you call 911, the dispatcher will likely send an ambulance, the fire department, and the police to your location. If there are no serious injuries, call the police yourself. Keep in mind that in some areas the police will respond to the scene of an accident only if someone reports an injury. If the accident involves property damage only, you may have to report to the police station later to file a police report.
Exchange Contact Information and Gather Evidence
Once you call the police and receive further direction, it’s time to exchange insurance information with the other driver. Get all essential contact information including name, phone number, license plate number, and policy information. Get the name of the other driver’s insurance agent if possible. Also, get any contact information from witnesses at the vehicle scene.
When speaking to the other driver, be polite and courteous. Don’t get overly emotional or make accusations, even if you think he or she is at fault. Never admit fault, even if you think your own negligence played a role – this could prove disastrous to your insurance claim. Don’t even apologize to the other driver, as this simple nicety may be construed as admitting fault.
While waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to your vehicle. Take pictures from multiple angles and include any surrounding landmarks for context. Take close-ups and panoramic pictures – be as thorough as possible.
Filing the Police Report
When the police arrive, provide a statement for his or her report. Once again, be factual and don’t make accusations, as this will not help your claim. Describe the circumstances surrounding the accident in detail. Stick to your perceived version of events and remain as calm as possible. After collecting your statement, the other driver’s statement, witness accounts, and forensic evidence, the police officer will make an initial designation of fault in his or her report.
Reporting Your Claim to AAA
Now is the time to contact your AAA agent for further instruction. Though you may end up filing a claim through the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you still must report the incident to your own company. This especially applies if you have personal injury protection (PIP), which will cover the cost of your medical expenses in the event of an injury.
Your AAA agent can help you by sending a tow truck to take your vehicle to the shop of your choice, completing your claim notice, arranging for a rental car, even contacting your family members. When placing a call to AAA, prepare to offer the following information:
- The time and date of the crash
- The city and street name
- Information from the police report – i.e., the name of the responding officer and the report number
- Names of the other drivers involved, as well as the driver’s license number and insurance information
- The license plate number of the other vehicle
- Witness contact information, if applicable
Providing all this information can help expedite the claims process. Once you provide it, your AAA agent can provide you with further guidance in accordance with the terms of your policy.