The Best Way to Report an Auto Accident to Your Insurance Company

Many people wonder about what they should do first when they have been in an auto accident in St. George, Utah. After a few preliminary things are done at the scene of the accident, filing a claim with your insurance company is the next step. You do not have to file a claim, sometimes you may wish to simply notify your insurance company of an accident and choose not to file. However, if you are going to file a claim, which you usually should, then there are certain things that you must be aware of before reporting an auto accident to your insurance company.

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  1. First and foremost, always be safe. Remain in your vehicle if that is the safest place. Get out if it is not. Seek medical attention for anyone that is injured, and turn on your hazard lights.
  2. Always make sure to get the other driver’s information. Take a picture of the other driver’s license plate with your phone. Then write down the other driver’s name, make and model of his car, and his insurance information. Sometimes the other driver may attempt to persuade you not to make an insurance claim, a police report and this basic information must be taken down no matter what.
  3. Always make sure there is a police report. Involving the police immediately after your accident is the only way to make sure that the other driver’s story does not change. A police report gives both parties a neutral third party perspective of what happened. Once it is recorded, fault is much easier for insurance companies to determine down the road.
  4. Look for available witnesses. In a best case scenario, you would want neutral third-party witnesses to write witness statements and include them in the police report. If that is not possible, at least obtaining the name and phone number of a neutral third-party witness could be extremely helpful later when the insurance companies are determining fault.

Once you have completed the first four steps, and you have taken enough time to be calm and collect your thoughts, you are ready to file your claim. Either contact your insurance agent or just use the phone number on your insurance card that you have with you in the car. While speaking with your insurance company, keep in mind that the phone call is likely being recorded. Do not say anything that you do not know to be true. Oftentimes, people do not realize the extent of their damage until well after the accident. That is why it may be wiser to wait and call in your claim after you get home so that you can better assess your injuries. Here are some additional tips:

  1. Do not be emotional and do not make guesses or exaggerations about what happened. Simply tell them the specifics of the accident.
  2. Your insurance company has contracted with you to protect you in the event of an accident. Do not be scared to file a claim with them. Failure to report an accident could be far more problematic for you in the future. Keep in mind that you are filing your claim with your own insurance provider. They are there to help.

If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance provider, be very careful what you say. Do not rely on your memory. Write down what happened at the time of the accident and only tell them that. In fact, at that point, it may be best to just refer the at-fault driver’s insurance company to your attorney. A good personal injury attorney has experience dealing with insurance companies. He or she can take away much of the stress after an auto-accident.

Car Accident – Go to Court vs Mediation

Mediation is the simplest form of dispute resolution that involves a third party. It is considered alternative dispute resolution because mediation and arbitration are alternatives to formal litigation. Car accident mediation is an option, both parties must agree to it. Neither party can force the other party to mediate. Down the road, after litigation has commenced, the court may force the parties to mediate before proceeding but this is not very common. Mediation is not binding on either party, it is simply an attempt to reconcile. With that in mind, you should not agree to mediate if you have no interest in settling your dispute amicably. You should also not agree to it if you believe that the other side has no interest in settling the dispute amicably. To do so would simply be a waste of money.

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After both sides agree to mediation, the next step is to agree to a mediator. The two parties will split the fee to pay the mediator. Mediators are typically experienced attorneys or former judges. You will want one that understands personal injury law and has experience in the courtroom. That way, they would understand how the dispute might come out in court. That knowledge will give more weight to their recommendations and will give valuable insight to both parties.

When you arrive at your mediation, both parties will be allowed to explain their interpretation of the facts. Once both stories are fully out there so that all parties can understand what issues are in dispute, the mediator will begin to act as a facilitator to help the parties resolve those issues. Hearing the adverse side argue their case can be aggravating, when people get aggravated, they get irrational. Being irrational can be a huge barrier to resolving disputes in a mutually beneficial way. For that reason, the mediator may separate the parties into different rooms after explaining the facts. He or she can then bounce back and forth and point out each parties weaknesses in private in an attempt to get their ideas about the case closer to being in accord. It is important to remember that the mediator is not your judge. He or she has no vested interest in one side wining. They get paid no matter what. They are really just there to provide a neutral third party outlook and make recommendations.

There are definitely a few important tips to keep in mind while preparing for your mediation. The first to make sure that the opposing party brings their real decision maker. There is no point to spend time and money reaching a solution only to have the solution rejected by the decision maker. Who you choose as your mediator can also be very important. Most courthouses in Southern Utah will refer you to a trusted mediator if you call and ask. Some mediators are so effective that they can accomplish this is under an hour. That is why mediation can be a great resolution for a lot of disputes. Conflicts can be resolved quickly and cheaply. Formal litigation is far more expensive and time consuming.

This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.