Can Car Insurance Companies Demand Your Phone Records?
After being involved in a vehicle crash resulting in property damage or substantial harm, the injured party may file a claim for damages. One of the first things an insurance company will try and determine is whether the other driver was at fault for the accident. How could someone be held responsible for another person’s car accident injuries in a court of law? If it can be shown that the driver was negligent or distracted during the moments leading up to the crash, they may face liability for ensuing damages.
It’s no secret that distracted driving is a national epidemic – one that is tied to countless injuries and pedestrian deaths each year. But in the wake of an accident, can another person’s car insurance company legally demand your phone records to see if you were talking on the phone or texting while driving?
Despite what insurance representatives might tell you, it is not necessary to turn over your cell phone records unless a civil action has been initiated against you. If a lawsuit has been filed, the most effective way to protect your interests is to have a competent personal injury lawyer by your side.
The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that nearly 80 percent of motor vehicle accidents involve some degree of distracted driving. California is one of many states that has issued a statewide ban on texting and hand-held cell phone use while driving. You are encouraged to cooperate with insurance adjustors under the guidance of an experienced legal advocate.
Cell phone records may be used against you
Be wary of misleading tactics used by insurance companies whose underlying mission is to keep payouts as small as possible. Adjusters may tell you they need your phone records to complete necessary paperwork as part of the claims process. This is likely far from the actual truth. If you are approached on multiple occasions and have not been made aware of a lawsuit filing, you can say that your car accident lawyer has counseled you to refrain from handing over the records.
It doesn’t matter if you were not texting, talking or otherwise inattentive before the crash, these records contain private information that may be misconstrued and used against you. This is in the same vein as providing a recorded statement to the insurance company. Don’t jeopardize your situation by making a statement until you have qualified legal representation.
What to do if a lawsuit has been filed
If another person has brought a lawsuit seeking damages for the motor vehicle accident, then your phone company may be legally compelled to share your records as part of the discovery, or fact-finding process. The process of discovery allows both sides to investigate and gather documents or materials that can be used as evidence to prove fault. If the claimant contends that you were checking your cellphone at the time of the crash and they need your records to demonstrate this fact, you may have no choice but to comply.
However, most phone companies and service providers won’t release their customers’ cell phone records without an official court order.
The bright side is that few car accident claims make it to trial and most are settled out of court. The sooner you consult an attorney, the easier it is to avoid protracted litigation. Ellis Law attorneys have been serving the Los Angeles area for more than 25 years, and our legal team wins a whopping 99 percent of the cases we take on. Don’t take chances with your legal representation; align yourself with a distinguished personal injury law firm that has a long track record of successful results.
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Even if you think you were partly at fault for the accident in question, our investigators, attorneys and support staff stand prepared to protect your rights. If you need reliable guidance from an award-winning Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who consistently prevails in car accident claims, Ellis Law is here to help.
All consultations are free of charge and we do not collect payment unless a recovery is made on your behalf. Call Ellis Law today for expert assistance in your car accident case.