After you have been involved in an accident, the trauma and stress can affect your reasoning and logic. Right after an accident you may not be in the best position to know you rights and assert them. That is why some insurance companies send a "claims specialist" right to the scene of the accident. The insurer, tow truck operator, body shop, and yourself all have individual interests in your damaged car which may or may not be evident at the time
The first thing you can do to protect yourself and assert your rights is to collect as much information as you can at the scene of the accident. If possible, take a few pictures. ALWAYS file a police report and exchange information with the other drivers for YOUR records. Do not rely on the police for this. You have a right to collect this information yourself.
The next important item is to remember NOT to sign anything! The only exception would be a traffic citation if required to do so by law.
If you know a collision facility that you feel comfortable with, have the vehicle towed to that location. Do NOT allow anyone to persuade you to take it to a shop you are not familiar with. If you have no preference, have it taken to the tow lot of the tow truck operator, or the nearest dealership for safekeeping until you can make an educated decision regarding who will repair the vehicle and what exact repairs you will authorize.
The next order of business is to educate yourself as to the legal and contractual relationships which are present. If the accident was your fault, or there were no other drivers or vehicles involved, you are a FIRST PARTY or an INSURED.
If you had been struck by someone else, then you would be considered a THIRD PARTY or a CLAIMANT. However, you still maintain rights under your own insurance policy as a FIRST PARTY.
Each scenario involves different aspects of law and policy language. Understanding these issues can make all the difference in the world when working to recover your losses.
NOTICE: All "third parties" or "claimants" are also first party insureds under your own contract of insurance. You have numerous rights under BOTH headings and should exercise those rights to your advantage.
Adapted from WreckCheck
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75% of accident vehicles are improperly repaired by collision centers. Many repair facilities are guilty of using aftermarket parts to complete the repairs. If you've been in an accident and want to ensure the integrity of the car repair, schedule a post-accident repair appointment today.