What should I do if I'm in an auto accident?
The first thing you should do if you are in an auto accident is contact the police. If you are injured, the responding law enforcement department will contact an ambulance to take you to the hospital. You should not speak to anyone other than the police officers at the accident scene. You should fully cooperate with the officers investigating the accident. Once you are taken to the hospital for treatment, you should fully cooperate with any medical personnel who are trying to assist you. You should not, however, speak to an insurance investigator prior to speaking to an attorney.
The insurance company for the person who is responsible for the auto accident should pay for damage caused to your vehicle. If your vehicle is repairable, the insurance company will have it repaired. However, if your vehicle is deemed a total loss, the insurance company will determine the value of your vehicle based on a trade-in value. This means that you may not get a check that would allow you to purchase a brand new vehicle. The insurance is for paying you for the value you would get if you took it to a dealer and traded it in. The value of your vehicle is based on several factors including the overall condition of the vehicle prior to the accident and the mileage on the vehicle. You can get a general idea of the value of your vehicle using the N.A.D.A. Kelly Bluebook at nada.com. This will allow you to search for your vehicle and see what the retail price would be. Remember, however, that the value you will receive from the insurance company is trade-in only so it will be lower than what you see at nada.com.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
If you have personal injury protection insurance on your own vehicle, you should inform any medical providers who treat you regarding your accident that you have PIP insurance. They will bill your insurance company for any amounts you owe based on this injury. Once the full amount of your personal injury protection insurance is exhausted, you should then have your medical providers bill your healthcare insurance directly for any outstanding bills. You must remember that if you do move forward with a lawsuit regarding your auto accident that any amounts paid by your PIP insurance and your health insurance may be repaid to them out of any settlement amounts paid to you.
If the individual who caused the auto accident does not have insurance, you may still make a claim against your own insurance if you have uninsured/underinsured insurance. You should contact an attorney immediately if it is determined that the other individual did not have insurance and you must make a claim on your own policy. It is important that you speak with an attorney in order to protect your individual rights.