What To Do (And What Not To Do) When You Cause A Car Accident

Being in a car accident can be stressful enough, but knowing that you were at fault for the accident can make matters even worse. You may understandably find yourself worried about whether you'll be sued in addition to the possibility of your auto insurance rates increasing. Before you let your worry get the best of you, however, there are some simple tips worth following to make the best of an unpleasant situation.

Do Know Your State's Laws

Start by making sure you understand your state's laws (or the laws in the state where the accident occurred) regarding car accident fault determinations. More than likely, you live in a tort state, which means that fault will be determined by the police for your accident. On the other hand, if you live in one of the few no-fault states in the country, the fact that you caused the accident may not make much a difference when it comes to the insurance claims process.

Don't Admit Fault

Regardless of whether you live in a tort or at-fault state, it's in your best interest to avoid admitting fault to the accident--even if it was pretty obvious that it was your fault (you rear-ended somebody at a red light because you weren't paying attention, for example). Ultimately, if fault needs to be determined, this should be left to either the police or your insurance company to handle it. 

Do Ask About Accident Forgiveness

If you're worried about your accident impacting your insurance rates, check with your auto insurance company to see if your policy includes accident forgiveness. If it does, then any additional fees or increased premium for your first at-fault accident could be waived by your insurance company. Even if you don't have accident forgiveness as part of your policy, you may be able to have fees waived by taking a safe-driving course or something similar.

Don't Fail to Report the Accident

The worst mistake you can make in the event of causing an accident is trying to handle it without reporting it to your insurance company. Even if the damage is minimal and you offer to pay for the damage to the other car out-of-pocket, you could still be putting yourself at risk. If your insurance company does find out about the accident, for example, your coverage could be dropped and you could be left without help in the event that the driver decides to sue you.

For more information, talk to an auto accident attorney like those at The Jaklitsch Law Group.