Car accidents can happen to the best of us. And in many instances, reporting your accident seems like an obvious course of action to take, but what if the accident was only minor? Some of the most common auto accidents are minor “fender benders”, where the collision didn’t cause any injuries to the drivers or passengers but may have resulted in slight property damage, like scratches or dents, to the vehicles.
Many people in this situation wonder if it’s necessary to report this type of accident. Here’s what you need to know:
According to Washington State Law (RCW 46.52.030) any person that is involved in a car accident resulting in injury or death to any person OR if the damage is more than $1000 must report the accident within four days. If your accident fits these criteria and goes unreported, you can several with a traffic infraction of $139.
One of the most important things a driver can do at the scene of their accident is to exchange contact information with other drivers and be sure to obtain their insurance information. If the other driver is uncooperative when asked for insurance information or if you have reason to believe that the driver might not have any insurance, you should contact law enforcement to file a police report if you haven’t already.
Generally, you need to report all accidents to your insurance company by the terms of your contract.
A common myth is that a driver doesn’t need to contact their insurance company if they were not at fault. This information is false. Regardless of fault, it is essential to call your insurance company to report any accident if it involved injuries or property damage. There are to different coverages on your insurance policy that you may want to use following your collision, but to utilize those benefits you are required to report your accident to your insurance company.
Know the difference between reporting your accident and filing a claim. Reporting your collision is simply notifying your insurance company that a crash occurred, which is different from filing a claim to receive coverage for your property damages or injuries.
A car insurance claim is a report you file after a collision with another vehicle or another circumstance which resulted in damage to your car. A claim typically results in payment from your auto insurance company to cover property damage repairs and medical bills. If you’ve been in an accident and are going to file a claim, be sure to do so as quickly as possible. Once your claim has been filed, your insurance will take care of reviewing any police reports, witness statements, and photos of damages before handling any payouts and repairs that may be needed.
If anyone at the scene of the accident has been injured, whether it’s yourself, anyone from the other party, or any pedestrians, a claim must be filed especially if you were at fault. Medical bills can add up quickly; if you don’t file a claim this could leave you open to litigation or legal action. If you are sued before contacting your insurance company, your claim could be denied altogether.
If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in injury or property damage, and the fault is unclear or in dispute, you will need to report a claim so that your insurance provider can represent you. Your insurance company will work with the other party’s insurance company to assign responsibility and arrange payouts.
If the cost of damages from your collision exceeds your ability to cover the loss, be sure to file a claim. If you’re unsure whether or not you need to file an insurance claim, get an estimate from a local mechanic and compare the value of repairs to your total rate increase.
It is important to report any accident to your insurance company as soon as possible to avoid giving your insurance company a reason to deny any coverage that may otherwise be available to you.
In the instance that you are involved in a low-speed, single-car accident, such as backing into a pole or object, you won’t need to file a claim or necessarily report your accident. If the cost of damage from the accident is close to your collision deductible amount and there weren’t any injuries involved, you may consider skipping a report.
If there is little to no damage to someone else’s car or property, you might not need to file a claim. For instance, if you nicked another vehicle but left very insignificant damage, exchange information with the other driver and ask if they will allow you to pay them for the damage out-of-pocket.
At Garguile Law, we fight to keep our clients driving record clear by fighting traffic infractions given to our clients after they have been involved in an accident. For example, if you rear-ended the driver in front of you, you will likely be given a ticket for either following too close or speeding too fast for conditions.
In most circumstances, it is beneficial to fight/contest these infractions because many insurance companies will ding you twice for the same event. First, for the accident itself and second, for having the moving violation on your driving record. Although, we have no control over what your insurance company decides in their investigation of the accident. We can assist you in mitigating the increase in your insurance by fighting the traffic ticket given to you for the accident.
If you have recently been in an auto accident and have questions about what next steps to take, don’t hesitate to contact our team here at Garguile Law, give us a call at 253-201-2001 today for a free case evaluation.
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