Dos and Don’ts after an Accident
Some of the Things to Do Immediately After an Accident
Motor vehicle accidents in the metropolitan Phoenix area are very common. Each day hundreds of people are involved in accidents in and around Phoenix. This results in personal injury claims that involve people being injured while riding in cars, SUVs or trucks, while riding on a motorcycle, bicycle, or even while walking on the street. At Mueller Law Group, we advise that all accident injury victims record and keep all information relevant to the accident.
Record all important information such as the names, contact information, and insurance information for everyone involved in the collision. Record all information such as license plate numbers, the year, make, model and color of all vehicles involved in the collision. Record the names and contact information for people who witnessed the collision. Record the details of the collision, including date, time, location, road conditions, traffic controls, and weather conditions. Make a diagram of the scene of the collision. Indicate the motor vehicles’ direction of travel and lane. Make a diagram of where the vehicle’s occupants were seated. Take note of any injury sustained in the collision, and obtain medical services if medical attention is needed.
Take photographs or video of the damaged car, SUV, motorcycle, or whatever motor vehicle you were in at the time of the collision. Also take photographs or video of your visible injuries. Proper documentation of the accident and your personal injuries will aid your case. That does not mean you should sneak a “PatientCam” into the hospital with you, but do take photographs or video.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Inform your insurance company of the car, motorcycle, truck, or other motor vehicle accident as soon as possible. But, do not give any statements about the accident or your injuries until after you have talked with us. If we take your case, we will be involved in any interviews or other communication you have with any insurance company representative to protect your rights and interests.
What NOT to Do After an Accident
Do Not Talk With Insurance Company Representatives without Your Lawyer Present
You should refrain from talking with any insurance company representative, including your own, until after you have obtained the advice of an experienced automobile accident lawyer. You should not give a statement to anyone without first consulting with us. Do not give anyone any recorded statement without first obtaining our legal advice. Do not meet with any insurance company representative without us. Anything that you say is evidence and can be used against you.
The insurance companies’ goals are to minimize their exposure and pay out as little as possible when an injury or death occurs. Insurance companies use experienced claim adjusters whose job it is to aggressively undermine each aspect of the accident injury or death claim. Their goal is to try to reduce the amount that they pay out, and pay out as little as possible on your claim. We can determine if the insurance company’s request is legitimate. If it is, we can provide the information for your response.
Generally, to expedite the repairs of your vehicle and to obtain a rental vehicle, you should speak directly to the insurance company regarding those matters. However, do not discuss how the accident happened, or any injuries or medical treatment. Be careful because the insurance company may be tape-recording your conversation.
Do Not Complete or Sign any Paperwork before Reviewing It with Your Lawyer
If you receive any paperwork or forms regarding the accident, call us. Obtain our legal advice before filling out any paperwork concerning the accident or your injuries. You should never fill out anything without first talking to us.
It is especially important that you do not sign any document from any insurance company without first obtaining the advice of an experienced Arizona motor vehicle accident attorney. Do not sign any “releases.” A bodily injury release ends your right to collect in the future even if your injury is more serious than you realize, and a property damage release ends your right to collect in the future, i.e, rental expenses, loss of use of your vehicle, or diminished resale value of your vehicle. Do not sign any “authorizations” for the release of information. An authorization allows for the release of your confidential records, even ones that have nothing to do with your accident and injury case.
Do Not Accept a Check from the At-Fault Driver or the Insurance Company before Discussing It with Your Lawyer
Accepting a check may be construed as a settlement that prohibits you from obtaining any additional amounts from the at-fault driver or his or her insurance company. Therefore, you should not accept a check or sign a release from the at-fault driver or his or her insurance company before speaking with us and getting our opinion and legal advice.
A bad financial situation after a major loss may make it seem necessary for you to accept a premature, inadequate settlement. Typically, an attorney will encourage you to wait to accept a check until you have completed your medical treatment and have been released by your doctor. That way, you know the full extent of your injuries and the total damages to which you are entitled. Otherwise, the amount of compensation that is offered by the insurance company may prove to be grossly inadequate to cover all of your medical bills and other damages. An insurance adjuster will push you to settle the claim for the lowest possible amount, and may even discourage you from contacting an attorney. Talk with us before accepting any payment, signing any release, or otherwise settling your claim to insure that you are receiving fair compensation and not jeopardizing your right to a full and fair recovery.
Do not automatically accept any estimate or appraisal of your losses given to you by the insurer. Insurance companies will often try to get you to accept their estimator’s repair or replacement estimates, which might be low.