Get Smart after an Accident: Using your Smart Phone to Help Protect your Legal Rights
January 7, 2015
By Mike Malvey
It’s hard to imagine life before cell phones especially the latest smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone and the variety of Android phones that are available on the market today. The iPhone that I have in my pocket as I write this blog has over 100 times as much memory in it as the computer I owned just 15 years ago.
The use of smart phones has also revolutionized the way people can protect themselves following a car accident. Using a variety of features that are available on almost any smart phone, you can abide by the following simple steps to protect your legal rights down the line.
Please note that any of the following tips are suggestions only and you should always put your safety first while at an accident scene. If taking any of the following steps puts you in any danger, please use common sense before putting yourself at any harm.
- Call 911. While this might seem like the most obvious step, it is something that a surprising percentage of people neglect to do following a car accident, particularly in cases where they are unsure if they suffered significant damage to their vehicle or any injuries. Getting a police report is very important following an accident as many insurance companies will rely on what is stated in the police report when determining whether to pay out on a claim. In some cases, the driver of the other vehicle may change their story after an accident so having a police report prepared by a neutral party can be the best evidence that the accident happened the way that you remember it happening. Take advantage of the fact that you have a phone in your pocket and that you don’t have to walk a mile to the nearest gas station or call box to notify the police after the accident and have them come right away.
- Take pictures of the accident scene including your cars before they are moved. Again only do this if it is safe to do so. Do not attempt to walk into traffic or put yourself in any danger by taking photographs. However, if it is safe to do so, try to take as many photographs as possible of the scene of the accident including your car and any other vehicles that were involved in the accident in the place where they stopped when the accident occurred. If there are skid marks on the ground, take pictures of those as well as any damaged pieces of the vehicles involved in the accident in the place where they came to rest on the ground. All of this evidence can be very helpful to a car accident lawyer or an accident reconstructionist if there is a dispute over how the accident took place. Sometimes these photographs can also help show the severity of an accident. If lighting is an issue, try to take photographs that show the locations of the nearest lights. Likewise, take photographs that show all traffic control devices in the area.
- Call your insurance carrier. It is very important to call your insurance carrier as soon as possible after an accident. Many people decline to call their insurance carrier because they fear their rates will go up after an accident. That is not necessarily true. In fact, under Pennsylvania and New Jersey law if you need medical treatment as a result of a car accident, your auto insurance company is obligated to pay for at least the first $5,000.00 of your medical treatment regardless of who is at fault in an accident. Moreover, your own private health insurance will decline payment if there is car insurance available. Therefore, until you contact your insurance carrier and make them aware of the accident, none of your medical treatment will be paid for until a claim is formally opened. The nice thing about a smart phone is that if you don’t have your insurance company’s phone number with you, a quick Internet search should be able to provide you the phone number for the claims department for your insurance carrier.
- Take pictures of all documents regarding your claim. Most smart phones are equipped with impressive digital cameras that allow you to zoom in and read the text of nearly any document that you take a picture of. Therefore, after an accident don’t just write down information regarding the other drivers, but take pictures of their documents such as their insurance card, their registration and their driver’s license if they will show it to you. This way you don’t have to worry about whether or not you wrote down the accurate information or not. Forward yourself a copy of these photographs by e-mail in the event that your phone is lost or damaged before you save the photographs. That way the photographs of these critical documents will always be available for you to access regardless of where you are.
There are many other ways that you can use your smart phone to assist you following an accident, including using it to help you find medical and legal advice applicable to your case.
Getting into a car accident can be a scary and confusing time. If you have any questions about your legal rights arising from a car accident, Galfand Berger’s team of personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia can help you. We are a Philadelphia personal injury law firm that successfully pursues all entitled compensation for injured victims of car accidents. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, Reading, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Call our offices at 1-800-222-8792 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.