What Happens If I Was on the Phone During an Auto Accident?
How many times have you spoken on the phone while driving? Though forbidden, it’s something pretty common with drivers. Unfortunately, if you have the habit too, you may not always be lucky.
You never know when you may end up in an auto accident because of it. Here’s what you should do if it does happen to you.
Report the Accident
Like any other accident, the first thing to do is report it to the local authorities. While you do it by calling the police, some states have other reporting mechanisms.
You have to follow your state’s mechanism.
You have to report even if there were only property damage, and no injuries, especially if the damage exceeds a certain amount. Whatever happens, you, the distracted driver, has to remain at the accident scene.
Are You the Only One at Fault?
Even if you were at fault, most insurance companies do not advise you’re admitting it at all.
It’s because there may be some contributing factors to the auto accident like a slippery road or mechanical failure. Or perhaps the other driver may be distracted too.
The only thing that happens if you admit your fault is that your admission ends up used against you. So don’t say ‘I’m sorry’ or anything else that suggests you are at fault.
Exchange Vital Information
Ensure you exchange vital information with the other party like name, contact number, and driver’s license number. You will also have to get the other party’s insurance information.
Don’t forget to check to see if there are injuries, and report them if any.
When the Police Arrive
You must be as transparent and truthful with the police as possible.
They will ask you what had happened, and it’s your responsibility to provide a detailed and honest account. You could prepare yourself before they come by recalling exactly how the accident had happened and what you were doing.
The Insurance Company
You would have to contact your insurance company and report the accident if you were at fault. It’s important because some companies do not provide coverage if the account holder doesn’t notify them within a stipulated period.
You won’t or can’t expect any compensation from such companies if you are late.
Tell them exactly what had happened. Many people decide not to report minor accidents because they fear that their insurance increases.
However, they don’t know that their failure to report an accident can backfire if the victim sues.
Supposing your injury was because of the other person’s negligence. In this case, any compensation you stand to receive reduces based on your contribution to the injuries.
Most states follow the contributory negligence model for determining a plaintiff’s recovery.
As per the modified comparative negligence standard, you can receive compensation even if you, the distracted driver, weren’t mostly at fault for the accident.
The only hitch is that your compensation is proportionately reduced based on how much you were responsible for your injuries.
Most states are considered to be tort states where the liable driver’s insurance company pays for the damages. There are also some states considered to be no-fault states.
They consider the driver’s fault does not affect medical coverage.
The driver’s personal injury protection insurance here covers their medical expenses. There however often is a limit in these states for filing a personal lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
The only exception is when the victim’s injuries are severe or where their medical treatment exceeds a certain amount.
Please consult your personal injury attorney in Glendale if you get involved in an accident while you were on the phone.
They will help with communication, and determine your distracted driver’s rights and obligations and help you understand them better.