The lure of open roads and freedom calls many people into RV’ing for both short and extended road trips. And since COVID-19, the “lure” has become greater with retired seniors wanting to get out and explore, parents with kids looking for affordable ways to vacation, and others who simply want to travel and save on food and lodging. The gamut of RV enthusiasts is vast.
However, as more RVs are on the road, there are more inexperienced drivers operating oversized vehicles posing a potential danger to themselves and others on the road. Motorhomes are rather large, and unlike minivans, SUVs and cars, operating one successfully requires a greater skill set. Accidents with RV’s happen quickly and lead to property damage and personal injuries.
Car accidents complicate the legal and insurance landscape, but when RVs are involved, it is even more problematic. If you are in an accident involving an RV, know your rights:
Document the Scene.
After an accident, document the scene by taking photos or videos of your property, the RV, other parties’ properties, road conditions, streetlights, obstructions, signage and any other factors that may have directly or indirectly contributed to the RV accident.
You will also want to take photos and/or videos of any visible injuries. This evidence could become very important when submitting claims and if the other motorist disputes the claims.
And do not apologize for anything, including documenting the scene.
Talk to Witnesses.
Obtain contact information such as name, address and any other helpful information from witnesses. If possible, you should request that they write down what they saw transpire.
Witnesses may, at a future date, be needed and they could become useful in proving who is the liable party. Remember though, you cannot pressure a witness to provide their information – you do not have any legal right to do so, simply talk to them and request their cooperation.
Even if the RV accident is a fender-bender with no severe injuries, you should call the police. Calling 911 ensures you will obtain an official accident report which protects you from the other party, should they decide to dispute the accident. The report is also helpful for insurance purposes.
Request Medical Help
Even if there are no visible injuries, internal injuries could be possible. After an accident, your body is filled with adrenaline, which can mask injuries. No one should stop you from getting medical attention, your health and safety should be top priority. If needed, you can also request medical bills, treatment records and specialist recommendations. These documents may be important at a later date in case of further legal action and compensation calculations.
Contact Legal Counsel
Having a personal injury attorney on your side after an RV accident is key to protecting your rights and preventing destruction of evidence. You may be traumatized or injured during this time, and having an experienced, trained personal injury lawyer on your side ensures any legal aspects to your case are handled accurately. It is advisable to seek a knowledgeable and trusted lawyer with a positive track record in handling RV accidents.
After the RV accident, you do not have a legal obligation to admit fault or apologize for any behaviors that may have indirectly or directly caused the accident. For example, if the other party complains of injuries, do not express sympathy since that can be seen as an admission of fault.
Avoid discussing the RV accident with the other party or parties. Discussing the accident can lead to memory distortion, preventing you from recognizing what is reality and what is an opinion. Plus, the other party could use gathered conversation to make conclusions.
Finally, you do not have to – and should not – discuss the accident with the other motorist’s insurance company, instead refer them to your personal injury lawyer.
Request Insurance Information
Although some drivers will operate an RV without insurance coverage, under the law, all RVs should have insurance. During an RV accident, it is your right to check the other motorist’s insurance coverage and document the insurance information such as the company, policy number, and agent contact information for future reference and claims.
Request the police report.
It is your legal right to receive a copy of the police report. The police report documents any valuable information relating to the RV accident such as date, weather conditions, citations, eyewitness statements, accident diagrams, location, and any other aspects involved that the police believe to be important. You can use the police report as evidence in your case.
Right to legal action
If you or your attorney is unable to negotiate with the at-fault party insurance company, and the accident was caused by carelessness, negligence and recklessness, it is your right to sue for compensation. Remember, the insurance company will try to find any loophole to minimize and reduce your payout. You should let your personal injury attorney handle any questions and negotiations with the insurance company.
If you have been involved in an RV accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Hardee, Massey & Blodgett. We know that dealing with an accident can be very stressful and frustrating. It is important for you to know and understand your rights. We will help you through your claim and handle the entire claims process so you can focus on getting better.