Determining Damages after an Accident

An assessment of the damages caused by a car accident starts at the scene, but doesn’t stop there. Remembering how to determine the damage when you’re looking at your totaled car and when you’re reviewing your bills at home is an important step in your recovery.

Though law enforcement, claims adjusters and the insurance companies will have their part in determining the extent of the damages, you are the one who begins the process, starting at the scene of the wreck.

Here’s what you need to remember.


Take photos, if possible, before police officers arrive and begin moving or towing the vehicles involved in the car accident. A cellphone camera can come in handy in this case. Use it to take as many pictures as you can from a variety of angles, and don’t forget to snap images of the inside of your car or any personal belongings that were damaged. The insurance company will review these when determining how much you are owed. Your car accident attorney will also want to take a look at them during your free case evaluation.

Take note of your condition and the condition of your passengers. Even minor pain at the scene could develop into a more serious injury later. Some injuries will be obvious right away, such as cuts and bruises, while others won’t reveal themselves for awhile. Record how you are feeling physically and ask your passengers as well, if possible.

While it’s fresh in your memory, write down or record a voice note detailing your account of the car accident. You may forget important details as time goes on, so giving an accurate account as soon as possible can help. Share these important details with law enforcement, remembering that you should always call 911 after any type of car accident.


Your insurance company may have a deadline for filing a claim, so you will want to contact your insurance company and arrange for a claims adjuster to look at your vehicles. If you’ve taken photos, let them know. Also, keep the list of your personal belongings that were damaged to check against your insurance coverage.


Make an appointment with the claims adjuster as soon as possible to get the most accurate estimate of the damage. The claims adjuster will consult police reports, medical records, property damage, witnesses and the parties involved in the accident when determining the value of the claim.

An online tool could also help you calculate the damages to your car. Before your insurance company comes up with a payout, review the damages yourself with one of many free auto insurance calculators available through a simple Internet search.

Finally, remember that property damage isn’t the only compensation you are entitled to under the law. Keep track of your medical expenses or any other treatment or services you require after a car accident in Atlanta. A car accident attorney will be able help you fight for all of the appropriate compensation.