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
Technology is great. It allows you to find old friends, keep in touch and keep updated on what is going on. It also allows you to be tracked. An article in the guardian yesterday (link at bottom) revealed that your I phone tracks your movements and stores them for up to a year. The data apparently provides timestamps and coordinates to allow a detailed history of where you went and when. I know you are saying, I know but I turn off that app that tells people where I am. Not so fast. This appears to be completely different and tracks the information, saves it and then downloads it for Apple to use as they see fit. You say: They can’t do that, I didn’t give them permission. Check out your terms and conditions. You know that mumbo jumbo no one ever reads. It probably has this type of language: Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. I know it is not a problem for you because you never go anywhere you shouldn’t, but let’s suppose you are in a lawsuit and the other side wants to find out where you have been – divorce, criminal, business, personal injury litigation, there is usually sometime that becomes and issue. Now arguably some trial attorney could request the Court order you turn your phone over so as to download the data. I usually tell my clients that everything you say and half of what you think is being taken down by the court reporter in a deposition, apparently Apple is helping by providing a means to track your every movement; thereby providing the ability for the other side to get a glimpse into your thoughts by tracking your movements.
Is this good or bad? Do you have a problem being tracked? How can this be used, good and bad?
The New York times is doing a series on the dangers of texting while driving. The story is about a young woman who was sentenced to prison for causing a wreck which killed another young woman. Here is the link:
Texas passed a law which went into effect September 1, 2009 which makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone in Texas. There are some requirements:
There must be a sign at beginning of school zone informing drivers that using a wireless communications device is prohibited and the operator is subject to a fine.
When does the restriction apply? As the school zones are only in effect during specific hours, the same should apply to the cell phone ban.
If you are stopped you can use your cell phone in a school zone or if you are using a hands free device.
You know the law, what do you think about it.
One question is does using hands free really make a difference in your attention to make it acceptable to use in a school zone?
Based upon simulator studies conducted at the University of Utah they determined there was no difference in the cognitive distraction between hand-held and hands-free devices. (National Safety Council) That being the case why should one be banned and the other allowed. Should both be banned? What is the harm in not using your cell phone while driving in a school zone?
Does it really make a difference if you are on a call while driving.
Two studies found that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a crash while using a cell phone. (1997 New England Journal of Medicine examination of hospital records and 2005 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study linking crashes to cell phone records).
The issue as I see it is that the risk of hitting a child in a school zone and potentially destroying their life as well as your own (could you really forgive yourself if you hit a kid while talking on a phone) is worth putting the phone away for a few minutes.
Let me know your comments.
Also as a follow up to the last blog about texting while driving, try the interactive test at the new york times site:
Next time cell phone messaging and texting – Drivers under 18
Texting while driving can lead not only to injury but death. The idea that it is no big deal, will just take a second, or I am not like all those other idiots and I can drive and check my messages is wrong. How many times have you seen someone driving while checking their text messages or actually sending a text. If you believe you can do it and still be safe watch these videos. The reality is that you can end up killing someone and destroying several lives including your own. Take the time and look at the video links below. One is a story about a young man who was texting while driving and the other is a public service campaign It may save you or someone you love from horrible consequences. http://ut.zerofatalities.com/#texting http://youtube.com/watch?v=K5NIE3osZEs