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Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
Attorney • (888) 480-1123

How to Handle an Auto Accident

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It is one of the experiences in life that most people hope they never have, but with so many drivers on the road, auto accidents are inevitable. Have you ever been in one before? If you have then you know that there are a lot of pieces that need to come together quickly so you can take care of yourself, your car and anyone else involved.

Auto Damage and Calling 911

After an accident happens, make sure that you or the other driver is calling 911. Official documentation of what happened will help you prove liability when it comes to your auto damage or if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Once the police arrive they will instruct you and the other driver to safely pull off to the side of the road. (This of course all depends on if your vehicle is still drivable). You will need to provide your license and proof of insurance and vehicle registration. Always keep these documents in your car.
Regardless of whether or not an officer arrives at the scene, you should get some information from the opposing driver. That includes:

• Driver’s name, contact information
• Name of opposing drivers auto insurance and policy number (if they are driving someone else’s vehicle you will want to make sure you have the name of the insured)
• Take pictures of the damage to your car and the car of the other driver (Most likely your insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver will do this at the auto body shop)
• License plate number, color, make/model of opposing drivers car

Also make sure to write down the exact location of the accident. Take a picture if you think it will help.

Opening a Claim

You need to contact your auto insurance company immediately to open a claim. The less time you allow to pass between your accident and filing a claim will help shorten what can be a lengthy process.

When you reach your insurance agency you will need to have your policy number at hand and be able to recall details of the accident. Setting up a claim will first of all help get your car repaired (if necessary). Ask your insurance agency if there is a specific auto body shop that you must go to in order to get your vehicle repaired. Regardless of whether or not they specify a particular shop, you will need to tell them where your vehicle ends up for repairs so they can send someone out to assess the damage. If necessary, ask your insurance company to provide you with a rental car if your policy covers it.

What If You Are Injured?

If someone is seriously injured calling 911 is a very crucial step and should be taken care of first.

A dispatcher will likely send an ambulance (if necessary) and any other emergency personnel to the scene.

You should document any and all treatment you need to have due to the accident. This includes locations, names of doctors, addresses, telephone numbers, tests they perform, and prescription information. This will come into play if and when you decide to contact a personal injury attorney.

How Do I Pay for My Treatment?

If you have auto insurance, you must call your insurance agency to set up a claim. The adjuster will assign a claim number to your accident. This claim number may be used to pay for your medical treatment. It is also helpful to keep your auto insurance card with you when you seek treatment.

All drivers in Pennsylvania must have at least $5,000 of Personal Injury Protection, or PIP coverage on their insurance policy. This money will cover any medical expenses you incur from the accident. It may also cover lost wages, funeral expenses and other damages. You must give the medical provider your claim number and the name of the auto insurance company when you go to seek treatment.

Medical Pay or MedPay pertains to drivers in Ohio and West Virginia. These drivers can choose whether or not to elect MedPay on their insurance policies. This can be used to cover medical bills due to injuries suffered after an accident.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

If you are injured in an auto accident and your injuries are interfering with your life, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Your settlement can help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you live in Pennsylvania you can sue for pain and suffering if you have elected the “Full Tort” option on your auto policy. Someone with Full Tort can sue for all injuries.
If you have elected Limited Tort, you can still sue for some medical bills or lost wages, but not for pain and suffering.

However, there are some exceptions to the Limited Tort rule. You can contact an attorney for a free consultation and he or she will be able to determine whether or not they can help you.