I Was on My Phone at the Time of the Car Accident
Provided by HG.org
If you were on your phone at the time of a car accident, you may assume that you caused the accident by being distracted. While this is sometimes the case, it is not always. Therefore, it is important that individuals who are in such predicaments protect their legal rights and understand the legal consequences of certain actions.
Reporting the Accident
In many cases, individuals who are involved in traffic accidents are usually required to report the incident to the local authorities. This is usually done by calling the police. However, some states have other reporting mechanisms that fulfill this duty. A report must be made when an injury is involved. State law varies as to when an accident not involving an injury must be made, such as when the property damage is more than a certain dollar amount. In either event, it is important that the distracted driver remain at the scene of the accident.
It is generally advised by insurance companies not to admit fault in any way even if you believe you were at fault. There could have been other factors at play that you are not aware of, such as slick roadways, mechanical failure or the other driver being distracted. An admission of fault can usually be used against the party making the statement. Avoid saying “I’m sorry” or any other expression of fault.
Sharing Information with the Other Party
After an accident, it is important to exchange information with the other party. This includes getting the name, driver’s license number, address and other contact information from him or her. Additionally, check if there are any injuries and report them immediately. Get the insurance information from the other party.
Talking to the Police
It is important not to lie to the police. If the police ask what happened before the accident, it is important to provide a truthful account. Before the police arrive, think back to how the accident happened and give them this perception.
Contacting Insurance Company
If you were at fault for the accident, it is important to contact your own insurance company and report the accident. Let the insurance know what happened. Some insurance claims will deny coverage if an account holder does not notify the company within a specified period of time, leaving the insured on the hook for damages that resulted. While some people are tempted not to report minor accidents for fear of their insurance going up, not reporting an accident can backfire if the accident victim decides to sue.
If you sustained injuries as a result of the negligence of another person, your own award for damages can be reduced based on your contribution to these injuries. Most states use the contributory negligence model to determine a plaintiff’s recovery. According to a modified comparative negligence standard, the person who contributed to the accident but who was not mostly at fault is still entitled to recovery. However, the amount of recovery is reduced by the proportion that the victim was responsible for his or her own injuries.
Based on the rampant occurrence of distracted driving instances, contributory negligence will very likely be raised as a bar to claims made by distracted drivers. However, a distracted driver may still be entitled to compensation if he or she was not primarily responsible for the accident.
No Fault States
While the vast majority of states are considered tort states in which the insurance company for the liable driver pays for the damages, some are considered no-fault states in which the fault of the driver has no bearing on the medical coverage. Each driver’s personal injury protection insurance covers their own medical expenses. In these states, there is often a bar on filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver unless the victim suffered injuries that were considered severe or that were over a certain dollar amount.
Individuals who are involved in distracted driving car accidents may wish to consult with a personal injury lawyer to determine their rights and obligations. A personal injury lawyer can often handle the communications between the party and the insurance company. Additionally, he or she can explain whether the applicable laws are based on a tort system or no-fault system and how this information can affect you and your claim. He or she can also notify you of whether contributory negligence may impact the claim and how it will impact the claim.
Read more on this legal issueConsequences of Distracted Driving
Common Causes of Automotive Accidents
How Your Cell Phone Can Be Your Worst Enemy
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.