After law-enforcement officials have discharged you from the scene of an accident that caused injury or damage to anyone’s vehicle or property, you should contact your insurance company and report the accident immediately. Contacting the insurance company to report an accident is required by your auto liability insurance policy. If you fail to do so, the company may deny you insurance coverage!
Here is what you should tell your insurance company:
• That the accident occurred;
• The date and time of the accident;
• The location of the accident; and
• The names and addresses of anyone involved in the accident.
However, there are certain things you do not want to discuss with your insurance representative until you have first contacted a lawyer. These include:
• How or why the accident occurred; and
• Issues concerning fault.
As a general rule, do not give a recorded statement about the accident to anyone (including your own insurance representative) without first discussing the case with your lawyer.
You do not have to contact the other person’s insurance company, but you may do so if you choose. Additionally, the other person’s insurance company may contact you. Here are the only things you should tell the other person’s insurance representative:
• The name and address of its insured;
• The current location of your vehicle; and
• Information regarding damage to your vehicle.
Here are some things you should never do when talking with another person’s insurance representative:
• Never discuss how or why the accident occurred;
• Never admit fault; and
• Never give a recorded statement.
If you do not feel comfortable speaking to the other person’s insurance representative, tell them to contact your insurance company or your lawyer, if you have one.
There are certain costs associated with motor vehicle accidents, be it vehicle damage or personal injury. If you were not at fault in causing the accident, the person who did cause the accident may be liable to pay for your:
• Vehicle damages;
• Medical bills; and
• Lost wages.
Hopefully the negligent party will have had liability insurance at the time of the accident. If so, his insurance company may pay for your damages. If the negligent party was uninsured, your own uninsured motorist coverage may pay for your damages.
Unfortunately, there may come a time after the accident when you are served with a Complaint and Summons that relate to the incident. This means that one of the parties involved in the accident is suing you. Here is what you should do next:
• Notify your insurance company immediately;
• Ask where you should send copies of those legal papers;
• Ask for and write down the name and phone number of the person with whom you are speaking; and
• Keep all this information.
Once you have received this information you should:
• Send or deliver the Complaint and Summons to the address given you by your insurance company, making sure to keep a photocopy for your records;
• Call the insurance company after a few days to make sure the company received the papers;
• Ask for the name, address, and telephone number of the lawyer the company has hired to represent you;
• Call the lawyer; and
• Once he confirms the insurance company has engaged him to represent you, give him your (1) name; (2) address; (3) and phone number; and (4) answer any questions he may have.
If you were injured in the accident and believe you were not at fault in causing it, you may need a lawyer to investigate the accident and help determine whether you have a case of negligence against any of the other drivers involved in the accident. If you do have a case, you may want to engage the lawyer to pursue your legal claims against the negligent drivers.
About the Author: Since joining Allen & Allen in 1991, Virginia personal injury lawyer Chris Guedri has focused his practice on complex traumatic brain injury cases, car accidents, trucking accidents, and product liability cases . He has handled cases in across the state of Virginia and nationwide. Chris Guedri is AV Peer Rated by Martindale Hubbell and is listed in Best Lawyers in America.