What should I do after a car accident?

It is important to remain calm to be able to think rationally and gather important information. Immediately pull over and

  1. Call the police
  2. Gather detailed information
  3. File an accident report with the police and the Department of Transportation
  4. Call you insurance company as soon as you can
  5. Stay in touch throughout the claims process

What evidence should I collect?

Gather as much information as you can.

Be sure to include:

  • Names and contact information
  • Driver’s license and license plate numbers
  • Insurance companies and policy numbers
  • Contact information for witnesses
  • Accident location and photographs of the scene
  • Damages to both cars
  • Any bodily injuries reported

Should I call the police?

Call the police immediately after a car accident. Police officers can provide emergency medical services or call for them. They can also protect the scene and direct traffic until the road is clear. Police officers will make a police report with unbiased, critical information that will be important for insurance companies and potential lawsuits.

Do I have a time limit to submit a claim?

Under Illinois’s statute of limitations, people have two years from the date on an accident to report file personal injury lawsuits and five years from the date of an accident for property damage lawsuits.


What types of damages can I collect?

Car accident victims can collect economic and non-economic damages. Examples are:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical costs
  • Vehicle repair or replacement
  • Rental cars
  • Lost wages
  • Wrongful death

Do I need a lawyer if I am involved in a car accident?

If the accident was a small, fender bender, it may not be necessary to hire a lawyer. If you sustained body injuries in the crash, a personal injury attorney can help maximize the value of your claim. Personal injury attorneys are trained to handle all insurance and legal meetings, paperwork, court appearances, etc. Personal injury lawyers fees are typically a percentage of the settlement collected on the case.

I’ve been injured in an accident, what should I do first?

Seek medical attention immediately if you were injured in a car crash. Keep a detailed journal of medical procedures, medical bills, lost wages and any ways the injury has affected your life. You may also want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney.

How do I get my car inspected and/or appraised?

Typically, an insurance company will send an appraiser or send your vehicle to a repair shop to be inspected and/or appraised. The process varies by insurance company and it is important to speak to your insurance agent to know what their policies are.

Is my claim worth pursuing?

If the repair costs are more than your collision deductible, you will have to decide whether the insurance payout is worth a potential rate increase.  

Can I get a rental car?

If you are not at fault for the accident, the other driver’s insurance company will cover the costs of a rental for a similar vehicle. You may be required to pay for the rental up front first and receive a reimbursement afterwards. If you have rental reimbursement in your auto insurance policy, your company can provide a rental vehicle as well and will receive a reimbursement from the at fault insurance policy later. If you are responsible for the accident and do not have rental reimbursement as part of your policy, you are responsible for your own rental costs.

My car was labeled a total loss. How do I know if the actual cash value offer for my car is fair?

The actual cash value of your car is not what you paid for it.  Actual cash value is the replacement cost minus depreciation. You can input your car’s information in websites like Kelley Blue Book to get a rough estimate of what your car is worth. If this value is significantly higher than what an insurance company offers, you may try to negotiate another offer.

What if the other driver doesn’t have enough coverage or any insurance at all?

Uninsured and underinsured coverage helps you recover damages if the other driver has little or no insurance at all. If you do not have this extra coverage, you may not be able to recover any damages at all.

Can I claim lost wages?

Yes, you can recover lost wages after a car accident. Your employer will have to verify that there was a job to preform that you were not able to do. If you used vacation days, this still applies. You will need to submit pay stubs, a letter from your employer and other forms that your human resources department can help you gather.

What do I do if I was a victim of a hit and run?

Gather as much information as you can including the make and model of the car involved and file a police report. If your policy has uninsured/underinsured coverage, your insurance policy will pay for the damages.

Can my insurance company cancel my policy for filing a claim?

An insurance provider has the right to cancel an insurance policy at any time. However, policies are not cancelled after the policyholder files a single claim. It may be cancelled when multiple claims are filed and the driver is considered a high-risk driver. An insurance company will notify you if your policy is being cancelled ahead of time.

What is a deductible?

A deductible is the amount of money a policyholder agrees to cover before an insurance company picks up the rest of the bill.

Why am I still making payments if my car was a total loss?

An insurance company will pay out the actual cash value of the vehicle, not the amount left on your car loan. If you do not have gap coverage, you will be responsible for paying off the rest of the loan out of pocket. Gap insurance pays for the difference between the actual cash value of the car at the time it is totaled and the balance of its remaining loan or lease.

Do I have to repay my health insurance company after I get my settlement?

Whether or not you have to repay your health insurance provider depends on your health insurance plan.

What if my injuries did not show up right away?

It is common to feel unharmed after an accident and feel discomfort and pain a few days or even weeks after your accident. If you begin to experience any type of pain following a car accident, seek medical attention immediately. If you wait too long to get examined by a doctor and later decide to file a bodily injury claim, an adjuster may argue that you were not injured by the accident or the injury is not as severe as you say it is.

How long will the claims process take?

The time it takes to resolve your insurance claim depends on several factors including the extent of the damages reported. For example, a small fender bender may be resolved in a few weeks. If a claim with bodily injuries, it is best not to receive an insurance settlement until the extent of medical treatments and injuries are known.

How can I speed up my car insurance claim?

To speed up the insurance claim, make sure you report the claim immediately, be truthful, follow your insurance company’s instructions carefully and check in with your adjuster frequently.


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