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Should You Report Your Car Accident on Google Maps?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on May 21, 2020

Google Maps has a host of hidden features that many people are not aware of. When you plan out a route, you can share your progress with friends and family to keep them updated on your arrival time or if you are worried about being involved in a violent crime. Or you can save your parking spot on a residential street or parking lot so that you can easily find your vehicle.

Recently, Google has begun testing a feature that allows users to report car accidents on the app in order to update other users on traffic issues, according to a report by Gadget360. While this function seems helpful for drivers around Seattle and other major cities that deal with congestion, some wonder if it is smart for drivers to share so much personal information with Google. Insurance companies can utilize online data, even something as seemingly harmless as your Instagram posts or Google navigation routes in settlement negotiations and trials. So, the question must be asked, is reporting a car accident on Google Maps a good idea for car accident victims?

Google and Personal Injury Claims

The advancements in GPS and mapping technology have been astoundingly useful for everyday drivers, causing entire shifts to how we handle our commutes. We can get traffic updates within minutes of reaching a congestion point and learn about alternative routes we never knew about. Some routes even allow us to track local speed limits to avoid an unnecessary traffic ticket.

For personal injury attorneys, Google Streetview can be particularly useful. While we cannot recreate an accident, we can get an on-the-ground look at the roadway or street where the collision occurred. This helps us better understand witness statements and discuss the matter with potential clients. A car accident can be traumatizing and confusing, but Google Streetview can help victims reimagine the events that occurred and possible what actions could have caused the accident. They may not remember a road hazard until they spot a nearby blue house or can better identify a dangerous entranceway where a car T-boned them.

So, there are some advantages to Google Maps in personal injury claims, but it is not an entirely accurate software. Photos and maps can become outdated and feature incorrect traffic information such as old street signs or changes in road designs. It should be used as a reference point, not a major piece of evidence.

However, this doesn’t stop insurance companies from using data out of context to deny victims’ claims.

Personal Data and Insurance Companies

Insurance companies love data, especially during the claims process, and anything they have access to can be used against you. This is especially damaging when comes to social media, which is often pulled out of context in claims. An insurance adjuster may make copies of your Facebook post about a back injury from before you claim to say you had a preexisting condition. Or they will point to an Instagram post of you at the gym after your accident and argue that you are healthier than your medical report suggests.

Thus, it is not unlikely for insurance companies to go after user data stored by Google, though they do have limited access to it. Currently, Google only shares reviews and photos that users have posted to Maps. In addition, accident reports appear to only be internal and still in the testing phase. If you were to submit a report through Maps, it only will tell you if others have experienced traffic congestion there or previous accidents, but not the details.

Reporting a Car Accident

In its current form, this update from Google appears harmless and it is not clear yet if or how insurance companies will use this data. However, at the end of the day, it is likely safer to avoid reporting your car accident on Google Maps until more information is made available.

Instead, call 911. The police should be the first group you discuss your accident with, and they will write up a formal report about the incident. Make sure to only include relevant facts that occurred, not your personal opinions or any fault you may have had in the accident. Some police reports include conclusions about who caused an accident and it can hurt your claim if that blame is assigned to you.

Second, after you have spoken to the police, see a doctor to get treatment for any immediate injuries and to determine if you have any lasting damage, such as brain trauma, soft tissue injuries, or spinal cord damage. Then, contact the Seattle car accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. We have over 40 years of experience advocating for car accident victims and combatting insurance companies when they attempt to use your personal information against you in a claim. Call us at 425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to schedule a free consultation.

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