Legal Guide

10 Biggest Mistakes People Make After a Car Accident

Do you know what actions you need to take after you get into a car accident? And what thing you should never do? Most people don’t, but they should since the stakes can be pretty high.

Not doing the right think after a car accident can destroy your chances of recovery and getting what you deserve. There are even mistakes that can seriously hinder your chances of full physical recovery and there are also those that can prevent you from recovering the finances necessary to pay for your medical bills, damage and losses.

Car crashes can be horrible and the end results chaotic, so it’s no wonder that it’s easy to forget what do to or what NOT to do. Make sure that you avoid these 10 most common mistakes after a car accident so that you could get help for your auto accident claim.

Things that you SHOULDN’T do after a car accident

Victims of car accidents might have the right to receive compensation for the damages and losses they had or injuries that they sustained. These losses and injuries can sometimes be quite extensive.

Recovering the money that you’re owed doesn’t happen automatically, and you as the victim will need to take necessary steps in order to seek the compensation you deserve. Failing to do so or saying the wrong things at the wrong time (or place) could put the entire claim at jeopardy and you can end up with less than what you deserve, or with no compensation.

So make sure that you never do one (or more) of the following things

Do NOT Underestimate Your Injuries

Many motor vehicle accident victims underestimate their injuries. Sometimes it’s just the effect of the shock, the rush of adrenaline and sometimes because they don’t want to deal with the process that comes after. By the time they realize that their injuries are serious, it’s too late. Feeling sore, stiff, confused, disoriented after an auto accident is by no means “normal”. In fact, some of these symptoms can actually lead to a more serious, underlying issue or injury.

Soreness or restricted motion can be a sign of soft tissue sprain or strain or even fracture. You might think that the discomfort will subside over time, but in fact it doesn’t – it gets worse.

Disorientation, fogginess, confusion after a car accident can be signs of a concussion. Yes, sometimes it maybe only stress-related or caused by shock. But can you be sure without a diagnosis? No. In the event that you do have a concussion and you leave it untreated, it could have serious long-term effects both on your mental and physical health.

Underestimating how serious the injuries are, is one of the most common mistakes that people do, and it can hurt them in two ways:

  • First and foremost, misjudging your injuries can later on seriously compromise your recovery, making the treatment longer and more difficult.
  • Secondly, if you make it seem like you’re not really hurt, might eventually lead the insurance to rethink your injury claim.

So after a car accident don’t say that you’re fine or that you’re okay. Downplaying injuries might be natural, but at that moment is NOT recommended or smart since you don’t exactly know the full extent of your injuries.

Delay taking action

After a car accident, you only have a limited time when you can take action for the injuries that you sustained. This timeframe or deadline is called “statute of limitation”. But this is not the only reason why you should act as soon as possible

  • Waiting to get medical help and treatment means that you won’t be able to document the full extent of your injuries and you can put your heath at risk
  • Pushing off the investigation of the accident, might result in fewer evidence e.g. videos might get taped over, witnesses can forget crucial details about the accident
  • Taking action later will also make finding an auto accident attorney difficult. There aren’t many lawyers who would willingly take on a case for which there is not enough time to prepare successfully.
  • By waiting too long, you might miss the deadline altogether.

The usual statute of limitation after every car accident is 2 years. So make sure that you take the necessary steps as soon as possible, and find a local law firm with experienced car accident lawyers on staff.

Don’t give too much information to insurance companies

Some people trust the insurance company, thinking that they are the “good guys” who only want to help the get back to normal and recover from the car accident. But trusting the insurance company too much might actually hurt your chances of getting a fair compensation. But the game plan for the insurance company is to figure out a way to pay you as less for compensation as possible.

So, when speaking to the insurance adjuster, make sure that you don’t give them details that they don’t need. Avoid talking about fault, your injuries and giving a recorded statement.

If you must speak to the insurance adjuster, give him as little information as possible. But the best thing that you can do is refer him/her to your lawyer. The lawyer is familiar with the process and knows what information he can disclose with the insurance company.

Don’t fail to call the police

If you’re not at fault for causing the car accident, the driver at fault will surely try to talk you out from calling the police. Don’t let them!

You might wonder whether calling 911 is necessary, especially if there are no life-threatening injuries. But the answer is always YES.

Regardless if the injuries are only minor and if the other driver is sorry, calling the police is always a good decision. The police will create an accident report, document everything they find and see at the scene, which you could use as evidence to further support your car accident claim. Furthermore, in some U.S. states, calling 911 is not only a smart decision but it is also legally required.

Don’t admit fault

After an auto accident, you will speak to a lot of people: police officer, witnesses, the other driver involved in the accident, insurance company etc. You might be under the effect of the crash and you would want to answer as many questions as possible. But regardless who you’re talking to, NEVER admit fault or take the blame for the accident.

First of all, at that moment, without thorough investigation of the scene, conditions etc. you most likely cannot possibly know without any doubt that you’re the one who caused the accident. And admitting fault can seriously hurt your claim for compensation later. Don’t rush into admitting fault for an accident that you’re not 100% sure you caused. So, make sure to avoid saying things like:

  • “I’m sorry”
  • “I only looked down for a second”
  • “I didn’t even see them”
  • “I tried to slow down” or something similar

Don’t neglect to gather evidence

The scene of an auto accident gets really busy, really quick and it can disperse even faster. The authorities will most likely want to clear the scene quickly so traffic could resume.

We’ve mentioned before that you shouldn’t wait too long before you act. This also applies for gathering evidence and necessary information. This is something you should do before the accident scene gets cleared.

While you wait for the police to arrive, there are a few things you can and should do:

  • Collect the names and information of witnesses and ask for their statement.
  • Get the insurance and other information from the other driver
  • Once the police arrive, make sure that you ask for a copy of your accident report
  • Take photos of the scene – you can use your phone

Don’t agree to a quick settlement

A quick settlement might sound like a good idea at first since you will get a check that will cover most of your medical bills and damages and you don’t have to pursue the issue further. However, a quick settlement might not be able to reimburse you for the lost income from missing out from work, or might not cover some other medical bills that might await you down the road. The reality is, a quick settlement only favors one party – the insurance company.

It’s the insurance company’s best interest to spend as little time and money on your case as possible. They will do everything they can to give you a quick (and at first sight, a reasonable) offer. They understand that you’re under a great deal of financial stress so they will try to exploit this temporary weakness for their benefit.

You might think that you understand well enough the nature and extent of your injuries and losses. The offer that you receive can even look great compared to the medical bills you’ve already collected, and you will feel tempted to accept the offer. But there are a few things many car accident victims don’t consider:

  • Medical treatment that they might need in the future
  • Lost income from missing work – you don’t really know how long will you have to be absent
  • Loss in earning if you have to switch jobs because you can no longer work in the old one due to injuries
  • Pain and suffering, both physical, psychological and emotional

Don’t sign anything form the insurance company

Before you sing ANY forms or documents from the insurance company, make sure that you speak to your car accident attorney. Document that the insurance adjuster might hand you to sing, are legally binding documents and signing one of them you might end up signing away your legal rights.

So before signing anything, go over the documents with your lawyer, hear them out and if they advise you not to sign, then don’t.

Don’t talk about your claim

Posting information on social media about your accident or claim is very dangerous. You might not realize, but you could unintentionally post information that the insurance company can use against your claim.

Insurance adjusters are known to use social media to spy on their claimants and get as much information as possible. If you claim to have a serious injury, but the adjuster find evidence stating otherwise, it could jeopardize your claim. It’s just like with talking to others about your accident or claim. The only person you should be discussing your case with, is your personal injury attorney.

Until your case resolves, we highly recommend that you:

  • Don’t post information about it
  • Avoid replying to comments from friends asking you how you are (you might unintentionally say “I’m doing ok”)
  • Disable your social media accounts for the time being
  • Keep your social media profile private

Don’t handle a car accident claim yourself

By far the biggest mistake one can make after a car accident is to think that he/she can handle a car accident claim on his/her own and that they don’t need to hire an attorney. Even the insurance company would tell you that the process is simple, easy and you don’t need a lawyer.

You might understand some part of the process and feel comfortable to take on this task. However, there are fine details in the legal jargon you might not be familiar with (but the insurance company is) and this is where you can lose. Plus, with insufficient experience in navigating a car accident claim, it could take you a lot more time to prepare your case and you might not do it right. It’s best to avoid the hassle, hire an experienced car accident attorney who will get you the compensation that you deserve.

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