Traffic accidents are traumatic and complicated experiences. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, there’s a lot to remember, and most people find themselves asking a lot of questions, such as:
- Should I go to the doctor?
- When should I contact my insurance company?
- Does an accident go on my driving record?
When you’ve just been in an accident, even if it was a minor fender-bender, it can be difficult to know what you should do. It can also be very stressful to consider the potential impacts to your health, the cost of repairs, and any other inconveniences associated with an accident. At some point, anyone who’s been in an accident will find themselves wondering what effects the accident will have on their driving record, including their insurance rates and driver’s license.
The Effect of an Accident on Insurance
One of the biggest headaches after an accident is dealing with the potential of an insurance rate increase. A change in insurance rate depends on the particular circumstances of the accident. It’s a common misconception that insurance rates always go up after an accident.
Not All Accidents Affect Insurance Rates
There are some situations where an accident won’t affect your rates at all. Insurance companies generally take into account the severity of the accident and which driver was at fault. Some insurance companies will also take your driving record into account. So, if you have a good driving record and were involved in a minor accident that wasn’t your fault, your rates may not go up.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been involved in a major at-fault accident, you will almost certainly see an increase when your policy renews. If you’re benefiting from a safe driver’s discount, which some insurance companies provide to drivers who don’t file any claims, involvement in an accident will cause that discount to go away.
An increase in insurance rates after an accident is certainly an unfortunate consequence, but it doesn’t last forever. Insurance companies usually take into account the severity of the accident and cost of the damages to determine exactly how long you’ll be paying higher rates. If you’re not involved in another accident, it’s common to see the increased rates slowly decrease over a period of about three years.
Even though the prospect of a rate increase is unpleasant, it’s still important to file a claim with your insurance company after an accident.
The Effect of an Accident on Your License
Another potential consequence you might consider after an accident is what effect it’ll have on your driver’s license. Many states utilize a points system to motivate good driving by punishing habitual bad drivers. Drivers who frequently are involved in accidents or are convicted of traffic violations can eventually have their licenses suspended or revoked.
In Oregon, there isn’t a points system, but the DMV still keeps track of how many tickets you get, how many accidents you’re involved in, and how often.
Does an Accident Go On Your Driving Record?
In addition to concerns about drivers’ licenses and insurance rates, another common question we get from drivers is, “Does an accident go on my driving record?”
Oregon has what’s called the Driver Improvement Program. For adult drivers, a total of three traffic convictions or three accidents (in any combination) within an 18-month period will result in a restriction. Drivers will not be allowed to drive between midnight and 5am for 30 days (unless it’s driving to or from work, or if driving is required as part of your job).
Oregon drivers who have four traffic convictions or three accidents (or any combination) within a period of 24 months will have their licenses suspended for 30 days. The penalty for disobeying these restrictions is a license suspension or revocation.
Basically, in Oregon, if accidents are exceptionally rare for you, you shouldn’t experience any consequences related to your license. Only drivers with habitual driving problems will experience those consequences.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
After an accident, when you’re wondering what you’re going to do, it’s important to remember to promptly file a claim with your insurance company, even if you’re dreading the potential rate increase. If you’ve been involved in several accidents or had multiple traffic citations, it’s important to obey the restrictions and learn safer driving practices. If you’re having difficulty in the aftermath of an accident, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced auto accident attorneys for a free consultation.