Do I Have to File an Insurance Claim After an Accident?

You do not always have to file an insurance claim after an accident, but it depends on the extent of damage. Drivers are required by law to report all accidents involving over $1,000 in damage and any personal injuries to the NYS DMV. Most auto insurance providers require similar notification in their policies. However, you may choose not to notify anyone for minor cosmetic damage. We’ll cover the basic considerations here, but if you need further advice following an accident, you can always call a car accident attorney in New York for a free consultation.

Yes, you need to file an insurance claim after an accident.

Many scenarios warrant the filing of an insurance claim, such as when:

  • You, your passenger, or people in another vehicle have been injured, whether or not it was your fault.
  • You worry about the other party twisting the truth to pin you with liability later. It’s best to get “on record.”
  • You have sustained property damage of $1,000 or more and reported to the police or state DMV.
  • The other party seems too eager to settle up without police or insurance involvement. Do you trust them?
  • Your airbags deployed or your doors won’t open and have at least a moderate amount of damage.
  • Your vehicle is co-owned with a lease company or loan financier, which requires proof of repairs.
  • You were at fault and can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for court costs, property damage, and injuries.

No, you do not need to file an insurance claim after an accident.

You may choose not to file a claim with your automobile insurance provider if:

  • You are sure no one was hurt in the accident.
  • You merely scratched the exterior, broke a light or mirror, or received a small dent.
  • You hit something like a mailbox, and it will cost less than your deductible to repair.
  • The damage done costs less than the expected premium hike (about $1,849 over the next three years).
  • You do not carry collision or comprehensive insurance, which would cover physical damage claims.

What should you do after a car accident?

  • File a police report. If you were not at-fault, filing a police report at the scene will protect your right to sue for injuries later on. A police report can be a valuable piece of evidence should a lawsuit become necessary or should the insurance company have questions about your claim.
  • Contact your insurer. In most scenarios, it is better to involve the car insurance company. Contacting your insurer will help you pay for damages through your no-fault coverage. If you were at-fault, contacting the insurance provider can help pay for the damage you’ve caused and pay for your legal defense if you’re taken to court. Should the vehicle damage or personal injuries turn out to be more extensive than initially imagined, your insurer could deny coverage later if you failed to report in the first place.
  • Contact the DMV. If your accident caused $1,000 or more in damage and someone was hurt, the law requires you to let the NYS DMV know. Failure to do so could result in license suspension.
  • Seek immediate medical attention. Even if you think you’re not hurt, it’s always best to document your physical condition following a car crash. Minor confusion could turn out to be a concussion. Muscle soreness could be a tissue tear. Aches can be broken bones. Should you need to file a lawsuit or defend your version of what happened later, medical documentation of injuries becomes especially important. Keep a daily journal of your symptoms. Record all medical appointments and follow-ups.

Do you need a lawyer to file an insurance claim after an accident?

Lawyers are not always necessary, particularly in cases where there was only property damage. However, accidents involving personal injuries can be quite complex. Our attorneys in New York can help you understand your automobile and healthcare insurance policies, liaise with these entities on your behalf, and advocate for your rights. They can help you understand your options for seeking financial compensation and help you file a personal injury lawsuit outside New York’s no-fault system– if necessary. Our personal injury attorneys at Douglas and London offer free initial consultations and do not charge clients a legal fee until after we recover compensation in the form of a settlement or jury award