Each year, there are over 6.1 million car accidents in the U.S. When you are involved in a car accident, the moments following the crash can be a whirlwind.
It is hard to remember everything you need to do in the chaos following an accident. Car accident victims sometimes make mistakes that can hurt their claim.
Being aware of the right actions to take can help you protect yourself and establish a solid car accident claim.
Here is a look at some common car accident mistakes to avoid.
Leaving the Scene of the Accident
This is a major mistake no matter the cause of the accident. Even in minor accidents, you should never leave the scene of accident an accident you are involved in.
You want to remain at the scene, assess the damage, and exchange contact information with the other driver. If you are hurt, your health should be your primary concern.
Remain at the scene and contact law enforcement. You want a record of the crash. You may need this information if you develop injuries or notice vehicle damage. If you pursue legal action down the line, you will want all the evidence possible to help establish your case.
Not Calling the Police
If you will be filing any type of insurance claim, you must notify the police after a car accident. Although a police report is not irrefutable proof, the report provides a starting point for insurance companies and any potential legal action down the road.
When you fail to notify the police, the case becomes your word against the other driver. This creates a more challenging situation if you wish to pursue legal action.
Apologizing to Others at the Scene
To apologize in stressful situations is a natural human response. People do this at crash scenes, even when they have not done anything wrong.
When you apologize, others take it as a sign of guilt. You do not want to make it seem like you are at fault or accepting fault for the accident. Insurance companies can use this information against you. They could argue that you apologized and took responsibility at the scene of the accident.
You can show concern for the others involved without accepting blame or apologizing for your actions. Admitting fault for the accident could negatively affect your legal rights and your car accident claim.
Some tips to help you avoid admitting fault for an accident include:
Maintain the Facts
When you are speaking to witnesses, the other driver, police, or the insurance company, stick to the facts of the accident. Describe the events in a neutral and factual manner without suggesting any responsibility for the accident.
Following an accident, do not utter the word “sorry.” Do not make statements others could interpret as an admission of guilt. Instead, express concern for the parties involved and leave it at that.
Consult a Lawyer
It is natural to be confused and overwhelmed right after an accident. If you are uncertain about what to say or how to respond, consult a car accident lawyer right away. A personal injury attorney can guide you through the legal process and protect your rights.
Refusing Medical Attention
In the aftermath of an accident, your adrenaline kicks into overdrive, and you may not realize you are hurting or injured. It is always a good idea to seek medical attention if you have been involved in a car accident.
In many cases, an ambulance is dispatched to the scene. Be sure to accept their offer to examine you or transport you to the hospital for evaluation.
Some car accident injuries can be hidden. The symptoms of back and neck problems, brain injuries, and internal injuries can be delayed.
You may not feel the symptoms of some injuries for days to weeks after an accident. Get medical attention right away after a crash, and monitor your symptoms for a few weeks.
If you notice any unusual symptoms, contact your doctor right away. Some tips for seeking medical attention include:
Get Yourself Checked Out
Even if you are feeling fine after an accident, take the time to get a medical evaluation. A doctor can assess any injuries you may have and notice things you may have overlooked.
Keep Track of Medical Expenses
Expenses following a car accident can add up quickly. Be sure to save every medical bill or expense, including doctors’ visits, imaging bills, medical tests, physical therapy, and prescription medications.
You want to keep track of your expenses and have clear documentation available if you decide to pursue legal action.
Giving Too Much Information to the Insurance Company
Insurance companies are out to make a profit. That means they want to pay you the least amount possible for your claim.
The at-fault party’s insurer will work hard to avoid offering substantial compensation for your damages. If you were in an accident and were not at fault, the at-fault party’s insurer may call you in the days after the accident. They may try to get you to make a statement. They may say they are acting in good faith and want to hear your side of the story. What they may actually want is information that could limit their liability for the accident. Do not make the big mistake of providing the insurance company with too much information.
You are not obligated to provide the insurance company with a statement. Direct them to your attorney instead.
Accepting the First Settlement Offer
Insurance companies know that accident victims are hurting and may accept an offer for some quick cash. They know if you accept their offer, they can avoid costly litigation.
Unfortunately, their initial offer is often inadequate and less than you deserve. It is always a good idea to consult a car accident attorney before accepting anything the insurance company has to offer.
Your lawyer knows how to handle the insurance company, protect your rights, and ensure you are receiving adequate compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical bills, property damage, emotional turmoil, and more.
Tips for negotiating a fair settlement include:
Know Your Damages
Be aware of your damage and calculate the damages. This may include your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more. This gives you a starting point to begin negotiations with the insurance company.
Generate a Counteroffer
A personal injury lawyer can help you resist the first offer from the insurance company. Instead, your lawyer can issue a counteroffer that truly reflects the extent of your damages.
There are often delays in car accident cases. Negotiations take time.
If you sustained injuries in a car accident at no fault of your own, you have rights. Be patient and allow your lawyer the time to negotiate the best possible settlement on your behalf.
Failing to Gather Evidence
Collecting evidence after a car accident is crucial for building a strong case. Without evidence, it is difficult to show who is at fault and what type of damages you sustained.
Some tips for collecting car accident evidence include:
If you are able, take photos with your phone of the accident scene. Take pictures of the vehicles involved, skid marks, road signs, traffic signals, road damage, or anything that stands out to you.
Exchange Contact information
Be sure to exchange contact information with the other driver(s), including name, address, phone number, and insurer. This information is valuable for filing a car accident claim.
Collect Witness Statements
Gather contact information from any witnesses at the scene. Their eyewitness accounts could be very valuable for your car accident claim.
Neglecting to Hire a Lawyer
Some accident victims hesitate to hire a lawyer and think they can handle a car accident claim on their own. Some feel like they will save money without a lawyer, but this could not be further from the truth.
Having a car accident lawyer on board significantly raises the chances of you receiving fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Some reasons to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer include:
Knowledge of the Law
Car accident lawyers have in-depth knowledge of personal injury law. They are adept in navigating the personal injury claims process and can file a personal injury lawsuit, if necessary.
An experienced car accident attorney knows how to negotiate with insurance companies. Such lawyers work every day to obtain the best possible settlements for car accident victims.
Access to Resources
Personal injury lawyers have access to a variety of resources and experts. Having the right resources or experts on hand can help you build a strong car accident injury case.
Many car accident victims put off hiring a lawyer because they worry about the expense. The good news is most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means they only get paid when you receive compensation.
The Best Representation for Car Accident Victims
Car accidents are an all-too-common occurrence in everyday life. That is why it is so important for car accident victims to know what to do after a car accident and how to avoid car accident mistakes.
At Preston, Wilson, and Crandley PLC., our experienced personal injury lawyers have been representing clients in Virginia Beach and throughout Hampton Roads since 1955. Our goal is to give you the individualized service you need and the maximum compensation you deserve.
Let us put our experience to work for you.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.