Being involved in a car accident is highly traumatic and there will be several things that will go through your mind. Unfortunately, due to the stress of what happens, it is very easy to make mistakes. This is totally unfortunate since what you do following the accident can easily influence your injury claim. You might not receive the money you are entitled to. Also, some of the mistakes will affect your health, which is even worse than not receiving full compensation.
The chaotic aftermath of the car crash should be carefully navigated. This does imply you should not make mistakes. To help you make the right steps, here are the biggest mistakes you could make after the car accident, those that will have the biggest effects on the outcome.
Underestimating Your Injuries
Experienced private injury attorneys like Hensley Legal Group, PC, will always recommend that their clients are first checked out by doctors. This recommendation is offered even if there is no apparent injury present. The main reason for this is that there are some injuries that do not show up instantly after the crash.
It is quite common to feel disoriented, stiff, or sore. Although such symptoms are often just related to minor injuries, in some cases they can signal something much more serious.
As a simple example, you might feel soreness because of a strain or sprain. While you simply think you will feel some discomfort as you recover, in reality, you might be faced with a condition that will keep getting worse and worse. The injury could be even more aggravated before the diagnosis because of underestimating it.
When you underestimate injuries, you can end up hurt in 2 ways:
- It will look like you are not hurt so the insurance companies will question the following injury claims.
- The recovery will be much more difficult. Your treatment will be prolonged, you’ll miss work, and there will be disputes about the medical bills for which you want compensation from the party at fault.
While it is completely normal to downplay injuries, you should never say that you are ok. You might be in shock and you might not even be aware of what is wrong with you. The best thing you can do is to get checked out and say you do not know if anything is wrong until you get checked by a medical professional.
When first responders come, answer all their questions. Related absolutely all symptoms, even if they seem minor. Many injuries do not seem severe as you are in shock and can turn out to be very serious. For instance, spinal cord injuries can lead to paralysis and whiplash symptoms rarely appear right after the crash.
If you do not receive a timely diagnosis, your health will be affected. And, the insurance claim can be drastically jeopardized. An insurance company will most likely claim you were not injured during the crash if you seek medical help days after the accident. Adjusters will believe that some other event led to the injuries you present in the claim.
Waiting Too Long Before Acting
After being injured in car accidents, you have to take action as fast as possible. There are several deadlines you have to respect when it comes to legal rights. This includes the statute of limitations.
You might believe that the lawsuit is a very long way off. However, the success of any personal injury case is directly linked to the steps you are taking right after the accident. Here are some ways in which the success of the claim can be negatively influenced by a lack of inaction:
- When waiting before medical care is sought out, the full injuries are not properly documented. And your health is put at a higher risk.
- When the accident is not investigated in time, evidence might disappear. For instance, video surveillance footage might be lost as it is taped over.
- When you wait too long before reaching out to a car accident attorney, there might not be time to build a strong case.
- When you do not file the lawsuit until the statute of limitations deadline, you miss out on the claim completely.
Usually, the deadline for filing a lawsuit as a crash accident victim is two years. However, different rules might apply in your case and the law where you live might be different. The days right after the crash will be traumatic. You will have to deal with a lot and you might not even think about the legal case. Fortunately though, contacting the accident attorney will not add extra stress. This can help you start the process with the lawyer taking care of the legal process while you focus on getting the medical treatment you need.
Giving Out Too Much Information
Another really big mistake you could be making is having blind trust in the insurance company. Remember that the insurance adjuster is not interested in helping you, even if they will try to make it seem this is the case. The job of the adjuster is to negotiate the smallest possible settlement so that the insurance company can make more money.
Because of the fact that you are under a lot of stress after the car accident, it is very easy to make mistakes during your conversations with the insurance adjusters. And every bit of information that can be used against you will be used against you.
Never discuss your injuries and fault. And no matter what you do, never give a statement without the presence of your attorney, especially if it is a recorded one. Such data will only help insurance companies find small errors they would use to pay out less.
All you need to do is to inform your insurance provider that you were involved in a car accident. Do not say anything else. According to law, you just need to offer some necessary information. Such an obligation does not exist when you talk to the auto insurer of the other driver. The only real way to talk to the other insurance provider is to hire a car accident attorney to help you.
Not Contacting the Police
The other driver might want to talk you out of contacting the authorities. Do not make this mistake. It is quite common to question whether or not to call 911 if there are no serious injuries and vehicle damages are limited. However, contacting the authorities has several important benefits. This is besides getting checked by medical personnel.
Keep in mind that in some US states, like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it is mandatory to contact the police to report the car crash. Even if this was not the case, after letting the authorities know, a police report will be created. This is important since it can be used during insurance claims negotiations to get financial compensation.
A very big part of what police officers do when they arrive at the scene is determining if some laws were violated. When this is the case, the driver at fault can be arrested or a citation can be issued. Both of these will help out your case. Even when this does not happen, the police report will be used by the attorney to build a stronger case.
After the car accident, you will end up talking to several people. This includes witnesses, the other drivers involved, the insurance company, and the police. People will naturally have some questions. Obviously, you will do all that you can to answer. The problem is that it is so easy to make the mistake of taking some sort of blame. If you admit fault, you make one of the biggest possible mistakes. You might even admit without this actually being true because of the shock.
It is often very difficult to figure out exactly what happened and you might think that you have some fault when this is not actually the case. As an example, if you are rear-ended, it is possible to feel you are to blame because you stopped the vehicle too fast. In reality, the other motorist is almost always the party at fault because of tailgating.
We should also highlight that there are US states, like New Jersey, where you could file an injury claim even when you have a partial fault. However, when you rush and you apologize, the admission makes it so much harder to receive the full amount you are entitled to by law.
The best thing you can do is to let others conduct an investigation to see exactly what happened. Then, only after the evidence is analyzed, real fault can be determined.
Not Gathering Evidence
The police want to quickly clear the scene of the accident so that traffic can get back to normal. This means evidence might be lost in the process. As a result, it is a very good idea to quickly collect evidence that might help you during the claims process.
As you wait for police officers to get to the scene, here are some things you could do:
- Get contact information and insurance details from the other driver. You at least need license numbers, driver’s license numbers, address, and phone numbers. Just never admit fault.
- Get contact information and names for the witnesses you find. Then, ask for a statement. Waiting can only be negative for your claim.
- Get the police officer’s name and badge number. Then, make sure you receive a copy of the police accident report.
- Take pictures with your phone camera. You are particularly interested in photographing car damage, vehicle position, and any visible injuries. Also, take a wide picture of the entire scene of the car accident.
Another thing you should do is start an injury journal. If possible, start when you are getting medical treatment. Even some notes on the phone can help. When you keep getting treated, update the journal with details like:
- The pain you feel and how it is impacting your daily activities.
- The activities you will not be able to participate in due to the injuries.
- Whether or not you feel some mental effects, like depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
- Sleeping problems because of trauma or injuries.
- How your relationships were impacted by the injuries.
- Treatment appointments together with how you are feeling about them.
- The ways in which injuries are restricting your movements.
The injury settlement will include details about pain and suffering. This is especially the case when serious injuries exist. Journals tracking injuries and their effects can help prove how much pain and suffering you went through.
Discussing Claims on Social Media
It is always risky to make posts on social media after the car accident. This is because the information you share will help insurance companies more than it will help your case. Insurance adjusters will use social media and will spy on you. They will look at photographs and updates as they search for something that is contradicting your claims. Sometimes, even innocent photographs can be taken out of context and could weaken the injury claim.
You have to be particularly careful with updates talking about medical conditions or your accident. As a simple example, when a friend asks you in a comment on a post if you feel better and you say you do, the insurance adjuster will utilize that post to show that you do not suffer from serious injuries.
Trying to File the Injury Claim Alone
Not hiring an injury attorney to help you is most likely the biggest mistake you will make if you are a victim of a car accident. It is often seen that people are hesitant and do not want to talk to lawyers. And the insurance adjuster will surely tell you that a lawyer is not needed. This is only due to the fact that the insurance company will want you to not have a lawyer present during the conversations that will be needed.
Accident victims who do hire lawyers end up receiving almost 4 times more than victims who do not. Lawyers know what insurance companies do to trick victims and will make sure nobody will take advantage of you.
You made a good point that getting contact information of all the relevant parties are important after getting into a car accident. I’d like to hire an accident lawyer soon because because my car was badly scratched and dented due to a collision incident a day ago. It will be important to sort out the liabilities of the incident as fast as possible.