Let’s face it. You will probably be involved in a wreck at some point in your driving life. My last blog covered what to do if you are involved in a wreck that is not your fault. Today I’m covering it from the other side, what to do when you are at fault. The general assumption is that your insurance company will protect you. That assumption could be wrong. Here are things that as an attorney who represents people injured in the wreck that I think you should know. (I would prefer that you didn’t know some of them, but you should know them.) The first three are familiar if you read my last blog. You can put this in your vehicles with your other papers. Hopefully you will never need to use it.
1. Call 911 if anyone is injured or vehicles cannot be moved.
2. Call your insurance company to report the wreck. Most policies require that you notify them of any wreck you are in and failure to do so could impact your coverage and you want to make sure you are covered if the other side makes a claim against you.
3. Take pictures of vehicles, position of vehicles, law enforcement and first responder vehicles and surrounding area. Take pictures of the drivers of the other vehicles and any witnesses. Take pictures of insurance information and Driver License of all drivers of all involved vehicles and driver license of witnesses. You probably get the idea – take lots of pictures – better to have the picture and not need it than to need it and not have it.
4. Do not post anything on Facebook, twitter, etc. about the wreck. It will be found and used. If you post on social media it will not help your claim. Also if you try and make it sound like it wasn’t your fault when it clearly was it will make things even worse. Just stay off social media about the wreck and make sure your friends and family do as well. Your insurance adjuster and defense attorney would probably prefer you just stayed completely off until after the case is settled or the trial.
5. Request in writing that your insurance company defend you in all claims and lawsuits which may be brought against you as a result of the wreck. Do this as soon as possible following the wreck. Send it certified and keep a copy. There are some insurance companies which take the position that unless you request they defend you in writing that they have no duty to do so. That can leave you personally responsible for all the other driver’s damages even though you had insurance which should have protected you.
6. Request in writing that your insurance company provide you with written notice and copy you on all offers, demands, claims and lawsuits related to the wreck. Do this as soon as possible following the wreck. Send it certified and keep a copy. I have seen several instances in which the other drivers insurance company either never told the person who caused the wreck of our offer to settle before suing them or in a few cases misled the driver about their offer – telling them we refused to accept the policy limits when it was never offered. Make sure you get the actual offers and demands so you know what is going on.
7. Talk to a lawyer. While we generally represent people injured in wrecks caused by an at fault driver. We have also represented people who have required personal counsel to make sure their own insurance company did the right thing in protecting them and paying the claim. Sometimes an insurance company forgets that it should protect its insured rather than its own profits.
Carpenter & Carpenter, P.C. 281-565-5900