What To Do When You Have A Car Accident

What To Do When You Have A Car Accident

10 years ago this week I was in a serious car accident, the car was totaled but I was okay but here’s somethings to be aware of.

So I was slowing down on a two lane south suburban road, two cars behind a car making a left hand turn. Out of nowhere I’m hit from behind at 35 MPH and pushed into the car ahead of me.

The car in front of her turned and missed it all.

Airbags go off, everything in the car goes flying (be aware loose items become projectiles), and I have to get my wits about me and figure out what happened.

I find my phone and look to the car ahead and no one is moving, so I climb out (and front end is smashed), and go check on the person I hit and she is okay and calling someone.

I then call 911 and report the accident, I then call my mother (I didn’t know my wife back then), and tell her what happened (and to standby), and I check out what’s left of my 2002 Chevrolet Malibu LS. The picture you see if of one on a car lot, since mine was in pieces.

My car is smashed on both ends and the driver behind me was a teenager on driving her father’s Infiniti, she claimed I hit the car in front of me first and then she couldn’t avoid it. She also began taking pictures of everything.

Law enforcement shows up and has us pull off the road. The young driver who hit me, goes to the officer (who tells her to stop taking pictures), and is blaming me for the accident.

I just stood off to the side and was quiet, I wanted to see how the officer would handle this.

It’s important to let the police do their job, they do this all day long. Sure I was upset at the allegation but I knew the truth.

The office later comes to me for an explanation and I told him what really happened and he says “I thought so”, he also calls for a police tow because with the airbags out, it’s illegal to drive my car. The person I hit (her car was drive-able), is allowed to go.

The accident report would be completed later that day and would have to be picked up at the station that evening. If you have a multiple car accident and can’t get a police report “on the spot” don’t freak out, just pick the report up later when the police tell you to.

As for the tow, don’t just let your car get towed by the first truck that shows up.

Make sure it’s a police tow because unscrupulous two truck drivers listen to police radio and try to your car and then milk your insurance company and your car can be held hostage.

My beloved Malibu was so banged up a flatbed was needed and the driver explained everything and took me to the auto body shop.

Make sure to get your valuables before the car is put in the back lot. You may be able to get more things later if the car is deemed totaled but your essentials should be out of the car once its dropped off at the shop.

Also once at the shop I called my insurance agent, it was early afternoon so he was still in the office and could get the process started. You can call your insurance company before you have an accident report but until you do, not much can happen.

Don’t be surprised once that accident report is available (it is public information), to be contacted by ambulance chasing lawyers if the accident is serious.

Also the other person’s insurance (if it’s not major insurance), may call you directly (going around your insurance), trying to “cut a deal”.

Inform your insurance company and refer anyone to your insurance company, let them do their job and don’t do “side deals”, it compromises the process.

Yes your rates are likely to go up with an accident that is not your fault, it’s how it is, no matter what the commercials tell you.

If your accident was serious but you don’t appear to be hurt, still go to the doctor and get checked out.

I think I might have suffered a concussion (due to the airbag going off and minor whiplash), with that accident but I was a tough guy (30 years old), and didn’t get looked at.

Also during the time the car is being repaired or evaluated if its totaled, stay on the body shop, call every couple of days to see what is going on. They may put you in a rental car but that’s only for a week or so and then you may end up paying for it unless there are issues (delays), with the repair.

And treat the rental like gold, I once damaged a rental while my car was being worked on, you pay for that.

If your car is deemed totaled, the payout you get is for the “street value” of the car basically what it sells for on a car lot right now. It may barely cover any loan on the car.

If it doesn’t, then if you have “GAP insurance” which you would have bought at the time of purchase of the car, then the GAP will make up the difference. Usually the lender will recommend that when you buy the car if the loan is high.

Other than that with an accident try to be cool (it is an emotional experience), and don’t make any rush decisions on anything and read the paperwork, get a second opinion if necessary.

There are some opportunistic folks out there trying to take advantage of your situation and try insurance fraud, so just be aware and let the insurance do its job.


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