We call motor vehicle crashes "accidents" because they are thought to be unexpected and unintentional. But, are they really “unexpected”?
When you drive with your eyes somewhere other than on the road (radio, cell phone, etc..), you cannot say that a crash is “unexpected”. Indeed, when you choose to drive with your attention elsewhere, I say that you can very well “expect” to be involved in an accident.
Before your next fender bender, be sure you understand when you should inform your insurance company and when you should resist the temptation to put in for a claim and pay out of pocket.
When a crash occurs, there are numerous things to think through:
- After a car accident, if possible, move your vehicle safely off or to the side of the road;
- Turn on flashers;
- Check for injuries;
4, Summon medical help as needed;
- Call the police.
From the insurance perspective:
- Obtain the name, address, phone number, driver's license number, plate number, and insurance information of any other drivers involved in the accident
- Obtain the names of anyone with injuries and any witnesses;
- Never argue over who is at fault or admit blame;
- If possible, take photos of the scene (a cell-phone camera can come in handy) and draw a diagram showing the cars' positions.
Should you report the accident?
If the accident involves another vehicle (as 7 in 10 accidents do), then you may have a duty to contact your insurance company. Likely, they will request a "recorded statement.". This is where it gets a bit tricky. Understand, you interests and your insurance company's interests may not be the same. given that they are in the business and you are not, you are at a disadvantage.
They will want to know your version of the accident and will want to know about any injuries you may have sustained. It may seem reasonable at the time, but injuries often don't manifest until a day or two later. If you tell them soon after an accident that you are not hurt or OK, this may cause some serious issues later should your pain onset be delayed. If you don't report the accident in a timely and detailed manner, the insurance company will be limited in providing the protections for which you have long been paying.
OK, confusing. It seems like a very fine line to walk here. How do you know when, and what to say and not say? This is not an easy answer and truly cannot be explained in a manner that covers all situations. This is why is is so important to seek an experienced attorney soon after an accident, preferably before you give a recorded statement to any insurance company.
In fact, the number one problem we see is when an accident victim decides to give a recorded statement prior to attorney involvement. Once recorded, there is a record that cannot be un-done. Does that imply that responses with the advice of an attorney would be false? Absolutely not. Insurance companies craft their claims questionnaires very carefully to lure claimants into responses that may well compromise a claim. The involvement of an experienced accident attorney will assure that the questioning is fair, and the responses clear.
It is crucial that the claim get off on the right foot. Having an experienced accident lawyer puts you on the best footing for this to occur.