- GET A POLICE REPORT!
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, it is imperative to have a law officer document the necessary information regarding the collision. Often parties to an accident change their statements or opinions after the collision. A law enforcement officer will take statements from all involved parties and obtain the identity of any witnesses. An officer will also obtain the necessary insurance information from the drivers that is required should you have a claim for physical injuries or property damage.
After a significant collision you should immediately contact a qualified attorney prior to dealing with the other driver's insurance. People make many mistakes when dealing with insurance companies following a collision. If you need to contact the other driver's insurance company do so at your own risk. An insurance company is in business to reduce the amount of money they pay on accident claims. With that in mind...
DON'T PARTICIPATE IN A RECORDED STATEMENT-- This recording is often used to contradict your testimony at later legal proceedings.
DON'T LET YOUR VEHICLE BE FIXED BY THE OTHER INSURANCE'S AUTOBODY SHOP -- This is a way that insurance companies minimize the cost and quality of repairs to your vehicle. Take your vehicle to a reputable body shop of your choice who can deal directly with the insurance company.
DON’T SIGN MEDICAL AUTHORIZATIONS -- Insurance companies often try to get victims to sign these documents as an attempt to "help assist in getting their medical records." However, most of these medical authorizations are unlimited in time and scope and allow the insurance company to retrieve all, and I mean ALL of your personal medical information over the course of your life. Your entire medical history is an open book when you sign these authorizations.
3. CHECK YOUR INSURANCE!!!
Full Coverage - “Full coverage" is usually not full coverage. There are two types of coverage in your insurance policy that are critical for victims in an accident; medical payments and underinsured motorist coverage.
Medical Payments Coverage- Medical payments coverage is not required but very beneficial for people that have sustained injuries in a collision. Medical payments coverage pays for immediate treatment after an accident with virtually any medical provider. For those without medical insurance or insured by Medi-Cal, medical payments coverage is crucial. Medical payments coverage also helps those with good health insurance. Many victims of a collision need the assistance of chiropractors or massage therapists to fully return to pre-accident health. Most of these medical providers don't accept any type of health insurance but do bill medical payments coverage. The use of this coverage does not affect your insurance rates and is a great deal for the relatively low cost of the yearly premium.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage- According to California Department of Insurance, 25% of all the motorists in California are uninsured. Therefore, you absolutely need to carry uninsured motorist coverage to account for the high degree of probability that the other driver will not have insurance. Carrying this coverage is relatively inexpensive and will not raise your own insurance rates should you utilize this coverage. Your medical bills will not be paid if there is no insurance from the other driver and you decline uninsured motorist coverage. As a personal injury attorney, I can only usually assist you in your claim against the other driver if there is insurance to address your claims for damages.
As you can see, contacting your local insurance agent and modifying your own insurance policy can smooth your path following an automobile collision.
Should you have any additional questions or concerns, contact Jude Redkey, an experienced personal injury attorney at the law firm of REDKEY GORDON LAW CORP.