In the aftermath of a traffic accident with another vehicle, you are not obligated to give your car insurance company your cell phone records unless your policy has specific contractual language that stipulates this condition.

Insurance companies may require policy holders to divulge phone records in order for accident claims to be processed. This is because these records are used to investigate the collision and allocate fault.

If the records show that you were answering a call or sending a text message in the seconds leading up to the crash, they could use this to deny your claim. Auto insurance companies may also deny a claim if you breach the terms of your contract by refusing to hand over your phone records.

Understand the terms of your insurance policy

It’s always in your best interest to read the fine print of your auto insurance policy before signing and seek advice from a New York City car accident attorney at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green if you need clarification. Remember that insurance companies are in business to turn a profit and minimize financial liability, so when your adjuster insists that you must provide phone records for a claim to be processed, proceed with caution. Consult with qualified legal counsel before taking any action.

If the insurer denies your accident claim without good cause, you may have grounds to sue for bad faith. The attorneys at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green will protect your rights and fight for the proper compensation to which you are entitled.

Ask to amend the record request

If you know for certain that you were not using your phone prior to the accident, and are willing to give them the records proving this, you might consider asking for a revision of the timeframe they are requesting. If the initial request included two weeks-worth of phone activity, this may be unreasonable. Let the adjuster know you are willing to provide records from the date of the accident only.

Court order can mandate records to be released

Other than the contractual language in your own auto insurance policy, the only other situation in which you would have to provide phone records is if your cell phone carrier is mandated to do so by a court order. This would likely happen if the other party files a lawsuit or injury claim against you. When this happens, both sides are able to gather pertinent documents to bolster their claims as part of the “discovery” process.

If you fail to provide the records as part of the discovery, the court can hold you in contempt or simply subpoena the records directly from your cell phone provider.

Phone records may be used to assign fault 

Under New York State law, you cannot use a handheld cell phone or mobile electronic device while driving a vehicle. If you are behind the wheel, it is unlawful to:

  • Talk on a handheld phone
  • Read, compose, or transmit text messages, emails or other data via the internet
  • Take or send photos or videos
  • Play games

If cell phone records demonstrate that you were distracted by a message or call just seconds before the collision, this can be used against you in a court of law. However, New York is a comparative negligence state, meaning that you may still recover compensation from other at-fault parties even if you were partly to blame for the crash. If you were found to be 20 percent at fault and the damage award is $100,000, your net recovery would be reduced to $80,000.

Professional legal representation in New York

By recent estimates, distracted driving is responsible for one out of every four vehicle accidents in our country. If you were involved in a collision with another driver and are being asked to turn over your cell phone records, reach out to the law firm of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green. An experienced New York City personal injury lawyer will help you understand your rights and provide tenacious advocacy at every turn.

We have successfully litigated vehicle accident claims arising from cell phone use, and offer our professional services on a contingency-fee basis.