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Automobile Accidents

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

People often ask what are the first things they need to do if they are in a car accident? The first thing I always say is to stay calm! Emotions often run high immediately following a traffic accident. Unfortunately, this is the critical time during which you might say something to another party regarding the facts of the accident that you don't really mean.

For example: You might admit fault where closer examination will reveal another party was at fault; You might state you "aren't injured" to police or medical personnel when a mild case of shock may prevent you, at the initial stage, from realizing the full extent of your injuries.

Do not discuss the accident with any party, witness or insurance company, even your own insurance company. The only individuals with whom you should speak are the other driver (and only to obtain the basic information listed below) and the investigating officers at the scene.

Many times, though not always, the investigating officers will require a detailed statement at the scene. If you know you are not at fault for the accident, it is imperative you volunteer the factual information regarding the cause of the accident to the police.

Frequently, the conclusions in the police report turn out to be wrong. After all, the police weren't there. They are basing their conclusions on the information they receive at the scene. It is always more difficult to correct a police report after the fact. Obtain basic information from the other party as follows:

  • The full name and address of the drivers of all other vehicles involved in the accident
  • The insurance policy information from all drivers including the company name, policy number, agent name and phone number, and expiration date on the policy
  • The driver's license number from all drivers
  • the license plate number and physical description of all other vehicles involved in the accident

Contact our office immediately

With our 24-hour, toll free phone center, you will always be able to contact our offices, wherever and whenever your accident took place. While you may have to speak with your insurance company at some point, it is better for you to contact our office first and have us make or assist you in making, the preliminary accident report to your insurance company.

Why can't I contact and deal with my own insurance company after an accident? Aren't they working for me? There are several reasons why you should not maintain direct contact with any (even your own) insurance company following an accident.

First, many people do not realize the party responsible for the accident may not be insured for the loss. This is in spite of California law requiring all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. If you carry uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company essentially becomes the insurance company for the uninsured party. This means that your insurance company becomes their insurance company. In effect, the interests of your own insurance company become adverse to you.

Many people think they can say or do anything they want as long as they are dealing with their insurance company. If your insurance company takes a statement from you or otherwise obtains information about your injuries in an uninsured motorist claim, when you attempt to settle your claim, they will use this information to reduce your settlement.

Second, statements made to either insurance company may be damaging. A detailed diary is usually kept by the insurance representatives, documenting comments made by you in conversations with them. That is why you do not want to communicate directly with any representative before contacting our office.