Written By Umrah Syed
Being involved in a car accident can certainly be an overwhelming experience. In the midst of dealing with bodily injuries, property damage and accident claims, it can be hard to know where to begin and what needs to be dealt with first. One of the first things to do after a car accident would be to report the car accident to your insurance provider and make an insurance claim. They will then be able to investigate who was at fault for the accident and who should pay for damages. If you have recently been involved in a car accident and wish to seek compensation for your injuries, read on to find out more about reporting a car accident and what you should say to the police when reporting it.
Collect details at the scene of the car accident
Where a car accident has occurred, any evidence is helpful in establishing a claim for compensation. Therefore, parties involved in a car accident should always exchange their details after a car accident occurs. You should try to obtain critical details such as:
- The other driver’s name and contact details
- The owner of the car (if not the same as the driver)
- The other driver/owner’s insurance details
- The year, make, model and registration numbers of the cars involved
- The names and contact details of any passengers
- The names and contact details of any witnesses to the car accident
There may be some circumstances, such as a hit and run accident, where you are unable to identify any details of the other car. In such cases, you should ask the police or any witnesses if they were able to obtain any details. If you are still unable to obtain any information, the injured party should consider filing a claim under the NSW’s Nominal Defendant Scheme.
Seek medical attention
It is important to ensure that any injuries sustained from the car accident are assessed by a medical practitioner. Even if you feel as though you have not suffered any harm, sometimes injuries can take time to appear and seeking medical attention can help to determine if any future medical treatment or ongoing care is required. This is not purely for health reasons, but also because evidence of medical records and receipts are required should the injured party wish to claim compensation for them. Therefore, all parties involved should seek medical attention soon after the accident occurs, and be sure to keep any related medical records and receipts, as these will be required for any future claims.
Report the car accident to the police
Parties involved should report the car accident to the police as soon as possible after it has occurred. If there is a failure to report the car accident within 28 days to the police, you will be required to justify this delay when making any insurance claims in the future. Parties should also ensure that once they have reported the accident, they have received an event number from the police as this number will be required for future claims.
Determine who you will make the car insurance claim to
A car insurance claim is a means for those who have been injured in a car accident to receive compensation for their related injuries. Any party injured in a car accident is eligible to claim road accident compensation – this includes any drivers, passengers or pedestrians.
Under the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme, all car owners in NSW are required to have CTP insurance. Thus, all car insurance claims can be made against the insurer of the driver who was at fault for the car accident. Therefore, it is imperative that you find out who the other driver’s insurance company is.
Make an insurance claim as soon as possible
There can be strict time limits as to when you can lodge an insurance claim, and these time limits can differ depending on the type of accident or insurance policy you hold. To ensure that you have not run out of time to lodge a claim and miss the chance to receive compensation, you should endeavour to quickly lodge a claim with your own insurance provider, as well as the other driver’s insurance provider if they were at fault.
Lodge an accident notification claim
An accident notification claim must be lodged with the CTP insurer of the negligent driver, within 28 days of the car accident. For this claim, you can receive up to $5000 in compensation for expenses incurred up to 6 months after the car accident occurred.
Lodge a personal injury claim
A personal injury claim must be also be lodged with the CTP insurer of the negligent driver, and within 6 months of the car accident. This claim is for when the injured party expects their expenses to amount more than $5000, or that their recovery time will exceed 6 months.
Do not make recorded statements
You are not obligated to make any recorded statements to any insurance company. Therefore, if recorded statements are requested it is best to decline as these statements will be used as your verbatim account of the accident and may not be favourable to your claim if you should accidentally say the wrong thing.
Remain honest throughout the process
Lying to an insurance provider about certain details can prove to be a costly mistake and can result in a refusal of your claim or even serious legal action. Insurance companies have many mechanisms of determining the true story of events in regards to an insurance claim – including contacting witnesses, or accessing surveillance footage. If your story does not add up, there is a chance that the insurance company will catch you out.
Do not speculate
You should never feel the need to speculate about things you are unsure of. The insurance company may attempt to confuse you by asking questions that you do not know the answer to, such as asking for a self-diagnosis of injuries or how much compensation you think you are entitled to. In such cases, you should simply state that you do not know or that you are not qualified to answer, instead of offering speculative answers.
Know your worth and don’t feel obligated to accept the first offer
You should know how much compensation is fair for your situation, as insurance companies tend to offer a low compensation settlement from the start. In fact, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to offer you a quick settlement in the hope that you will not realise the full extent of your possible damages. Therefore, don’t feel pressured to take the first settlement offer the insurance company gives you. If you are feeling pressured, you can always ask the insurance company to send you a settlement offer in writing, so that you won’t feel the need to make a decision immediately.
What you can receive compensation for
If your car insurance claim is successful, you can receive compensation for:
- Medical, rehabilitation and hospital expenses
- Replacement or repair of damaged property
- Home modification and attendant care expenses
- Loss of earnings or earning capacity
- Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (if the injured party has suffered a whole person impairment over the 10% threshold)
Seek legal help from compensation experts
Personal injury lawyers are qualified professionals who are constantly dealing with the insurance claim process. It is worth considering hiring a compensation lawyer as this insurance claim process can be highly complex and hard to comply with for those inexperienced in this area. Compensation lawyers can also help to negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf, and help to pursue legal action where necessary.
For more information about car accident insurance claims, contact Schreuder Partners today.