Can I Choose My Own Repair Shop Following a Texas Car Accident?
Following a car crash, you deserve to have your car repaired by a reputable shop and you deserve to pick that shop as well. While an insurance company may recommend a car repair shop, the final decision of where you go is up to you.
Why Do Insurance Companies Recommend a Repair Shop?
Most auto insurance companies have contracts with body shops in your area. These contracts normally benefit both the body shop and the insurer in that, in exchange for the referred business, the body shops agree to lower labor and material rates as well as parts discounts.
In some situations, these agreements may benefit you as well. By choosing a repair shop recommended by an insurer, you will generally be back on the road faster. Additionally, most reputable insurance companies require that contracted body shops meet certain equipment and training requirements and also require that contracted body shops provide lifetime warranties on any repairs made.
Still, there are situations in which you may want to use a body shop not contracted by the insurance company, which is your right.
If you choose a body shop recommended by an insurer, you may get some push back from claims representatives. This is because claims adjusters are often given set regarding the number of claims that should go to the insurance company’s direct repair shops. They will tell you that the shop is not on their list and that they will not be able to handle your claim effectively, or say that it could be weeks before an adjuster will be available to write an estimate on your car.
Do not be intimidated. If a body shop is truly reputable, they will make sure you receive any and all the benefits of choosing the insurer’s recommended body shop.
Even if a collision is minor, it is important to remain at the scene. Never flee from the scene of an accident as it is illegal and will only make matters worse.
Assess the situation
Car crashes can be disorientating. It is important that you take a moment to assess the situation. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Determine if it is safe to exit your vehicle and see what routes are available for a safe exit. Refrain from moving anyone who has suffered a back, neck, or spinal injury if at all possible.
Make the accident visible
Accidents are an unexpected disruption to traffic flow, and numerous accidents occur by drivers crashing into the site of a previous collision. You can prevent further accidents and hazards by turning on your vehicle’s warning lights, setting out reflectors, or activating road flares. It is also smart to keep a flashlight in your car – should an accident occur at night, you can carry the flashlight after exiting your vehicle to make yourself more visible.
Notify the police
If there is an emergency, contact 911. Otherwise, contact your local police department – even if there are no serious injuries. A detailed police report will go a long way when you file a claim with your insurance company. If there is an injury, be sure that paramedics are called to the scene as well. If there is any confusion whether or not an injury has occurred, err on the side of caution and have an ambulance respond to the scene.
Record the facts
Speak with the responding officers and be as accurate and forth coming as possible. Do not feel like you have to have all the answers. Do not speculate at the facts of the accident or whether you sustained an injury. If you are unsure how the accident occurred or unsure if you have sustained an injury, it is okay to respond with “I don’t know.”
A major benefit that has come with the popularity of cell phones is that the vast majority of people have a camera with them at all times. Take photos of your vehicle, any visible damage, the scene of the accident, and any injuries that you or a passenger may have suffered.
Gather and exchange information
More often than not, the responding officer will obtain insurance information from all drivers involved. If this does not occur, gather the name, phone number, and addresses of all persons involved in the accident, including passengers and witnesses. You should also obtain the insurance information of all driver involved by requesting to see each vehicle’s insurance card.
Seek medical attention
Pain and injuries may not be immediately evident following an accident. In fact, much of the pain will occur a day or two following the crash. Again, if there is any uncertainty whether you have sustained an injury, err on the side of caution. There is no harm in getting a check-up at your local emergency room or in making an appointment with your primary physician. Let them have the final say, even if only for peace of mind.
Report the accident to your insurance
Contact your insurance company as soon as you can following a crash – most policies actually require immediate reporting of an accident. This will also let you discuss your medical benefits as well as get your claim under way. As your claim is process, keep a detailed log of any medical bills, updates, changes in health, and crash related expenses such as rentals.
Contact an experienced car crash attorney
The role of your attorney is not simply to file a lawsuit. An attorney is responsible for protecting your rights and for making sure insurance companies are acting in your best interest. A good attorney will help you obtain and protect valuable evidence, provide legal advice before you provide a statement to the insurers, ensure you receive the medical attention you need, and press insurers to process your claim in a timely and fair manner. Should your rights be infringed upon, the best attorneys are those who are willing and ready to go to trial.