Handling a car accident in Houston or San Antonio can be confusing, especially if you were injured in the crash. Most people are concerned about meeting their obligation to notify the right authorities while avoiding mistakes that could jeopardize the chances of recovering compensation. Finding a qualified car accident attorney can help you get clarity on how to report the accident and when to avoid making statements.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Company Is Calling Me: Do I Have to Talk to Them?
The other driver’s insurance company has the right to request information from you, but you are under no obligation to speak with their representatives. In most cases, talking with the other driver’s insurance company will only give them evidence that they can use as they build their case against you. If you receive a call from them, it is your right to politely decline and hang up. You should never disclose any information without speaking with your car accident attorney first.
When a claim goes to court, both sides enter a period called the “discovery phase” during which they are allowed to request evidence. In most cases, medical records and any other information the other driver’s insurance company has a right to review can be sent through your attorney. You should never send out any documentation yourself.
Who Should You Speak to After a Car Accident?
So, if you are not obligated to speak with the other driver’s insurance company, who should you notify about the accident? The first thing you should do after the crash is to check everyone who was involved, including yourself, for injuries. Then, regardless of who was at fault, you should contact:
The Nearest ER
Even if you do not feel hurt, it is important to go to the emergency room. Sometimes, the adrenaline your body produces in a car crash can mask serious injuries. Going to the ER will allow you to access the proper treatment and create a medical record that can be used if you decide to pursue damages.
You should notify the police of the accident and any apparent injuries as soon as you can. In some cases, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident, so you should wait where you are until the responding officer arrives. When he or she shows up, you should request his or her name and a copy of the police report. In many cases, the police report can provide additional evidence to strengthen your claim.
If anyone passing by saw the accident take place, you should ask for their contact information in addition to taking photos and videos of the crash. Witnesses can often provide valuable testimonies for claimants seeking compensation.
Your Insurance Company
Most policies require you to notify your insurance company whenever a crash occurs. Your insurance agent will ask you for the name of the other driver and his or her insurance company, so you should be sure to take down that information before you leave the scene of the accident. Communications with the other driver’s insurance company can then be handled by representatives from your insurance company and your car accident attorney.
A Car Accident Attorney in Houston or San Antonio
Personal injury laws are complicated, and it is very risky to try to represent yourself when you go up against a big insurance company. Having professional legal representation by a car accident attorney can keep you informed on how to safeguard your claim against manipulative tactics from the defense while building strong evidence to maximize your payout.
When you are navigating the aftermath of a car crash, it is important to remember that the statements you make cannot be taken back. Any statements that you make regarding the case can be used against you, so you should get legal advice as early in the process as possible. Many car accident attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will not have to pay any legal fees upfront.
What Are the Risks of Talking With the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?
The representatives of the other driver’s insurance company might sound polite and professional on the phone, but their sole objective is to maximize their company’s profits by minimizing your payout. After you submit a claim, they will begin an investigation into the accident to determine whether or not they are obligated by the terms of the policy they issued to pay for the damages.
The investigation could include sending a claims adjuster to inspect the vehicles involved in the crash and making requests for recorded statements. You are under no obligation to speak with the claims adjuster or give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company.
What Information Can Put My Claim at Risk?
If you give a recorded statement, the other driver’s insurance company will check your story for inconsistencies that might cause a judge or jury to question the validity of your arguments. The defense will review witness testimonies, footage of the crash, and other sources of evidence in an attempt to find facts that contradict your claims.
Evidence of Distracted or Negligent Driving
Insurance company representatives are trained to ask questions that could elicit incriminating statements from the claimant. For example, you might be asked whether you were distracted from your driving by your phone or the radio at the time of the crash. You could even be asked whether you were wearing prescription eyewear or if you were feeling sleepy before you got behind the wheel.
Proving that the claimant shared responsibility for the crash is one of the most effective ways the other driver’s insurance company can reduce its expenses. If you are found to be partly responsible, your payout will decrease by the percentage of fault that you share. For example, if the court determines that you are 30% at fault, you will only receive 70% of the value of the damages. Therefore, you should take care not to implicate yourself in the accident.
Indications of a Pre-Existing Condition
If the defense can prove that your injuries were the result of a pre-existing condition instead of the accident, the other driver’s insurance company could avoid giving you a payout and you could miss out on compensation. It is best to avoid discussing your health with anyone other than your car accident attorney.
If you had a pre-existing condition at the time of the crash, Texas personal injury law specifies that you are still entitled to compensation for the cost of any medical treatments needed to address injuries that resulted from the accident, including new aggravation to old injuries. A qualified car accident attorney in Houston or San Antonio will most likely be able to use your medical records to show that your previous condition(s) had stabilized or were not relevant to the injuries caused by the other driver.
Your Car Accident Attorney Is Your Source for Legal Guidance
If you were injured in a car crash that was not your fault, you have the legal right to hold the other driver accountable for all of the losses you suffered. However, you will need to take care not to give the defense material which can be used against you. For legal guidance you can count on, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC.