After any jarring and overwhelming life event, like a motor vehicle accident, approach the situation carefully and make informed decisions. Unfortunately, many people unknowingly make mistakes that can have long-term consequences.
If you avoid several common mistakes after a car accident, you will protect your well-being, preserve your legal rights, and ensure a smoother recovery process.
Reach out to an experienced car accident attorney at Varner Faddis, Elite Legal, if you have been injured in a car accident.
Post-Crash Mistakes to Avoid
Not Seeking Medical Attention or Assuming You Aren’t Injured
One of the most critical mistakes to avoid after a car accident is neglecting to seek medical attention or assuming that you aren’t injured.
Even if you believe your injuries are minor, some may have delayed symptoms or underlying complications. Prompt medical evaluation is crucial for proper diagnosis, documentation, and treatment. Sometimes serious injuries, such as internal bleeding, organ damage, or brain injury, may present delay symptoms.
By seeking medical attention, you prioritize your health and establish a medical record that can be valuable for insurance claims or legal proceedings. Not seeking medical attention shortly after a car accident can have negative legal ramifications and devalue your claim.
For instance, the at-fault party’s insurance company may argue that since you didn’t seek medical care right away, you were not seriously injured or something other than the car accident caused your injuries.
While your first instinct might be to tell everyone you are sorry, avoid admitting fault or apologizing at the accident scene. Determining liability is a complex process that legal professionals and law enforcement should handle.
Remember that anything you say can potentially be used against you later. Even if you think you can be at fault, don’t apologize or say something like, “I just didn’t see you coming.”
If someone accuses you of fault, don’t argue or respond. You don’t need to defend yourself to them; your attorney will do that at the appropriate time. Instead, focus on ensuring the safety of all parties involved and exchange necessary information without discussing the details of the accident.
Neglecting to Contact the Local Law Enforcement
Even in seemingly minor accidents, contact the police and file an accident report. A police report provides an objective account of the incident, including details about how the accident occurred, the involved parties, damages to the vehicles, road conditions, witness statements, and other relevant information.
Your car accident attorney will need this official record to maximize your compensation.
Delaying Notifying Your Insurance Company
You must promptly notify your insurance company about the accident. Delaying this communication can lead to complications or even denial of coverage. Provide accurate information about the accident, follow their instructions for filing a claim, and cooperate with their investigation. They may ask follow-up questions, need additional information, or request more documentation. Remain in contact with them and respond promptly to their requests as they work on your behalf.
Talking to the Other Party’s Insurance Adjuster
Never talk directly to the other party’s insurance company or adjuster. It’s their goal to belittle your injuries and damages to pay as little as possible for your claim. They can accomplish this in many ways, including twisting your words or leading you to say something detrimental to your claim.
For example, they might start the conversation by asking how you are. You politely respond, “Fine.” You mean that you are relatively fine; you aren’t great. You’re responding to how most people will respond when asked this question by someone they don’t know. But, the adjuster will likely take your response to mean that you are doing great, have recovered from your injuries, and suffer no lasting effects from your injuries or the accident.
They might also ask you leading questions about the accident to twist your narrative to serve their purposes, such as:
- You didn’t see the car coming, did you?
- You hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep the previous night, had you?
- You don’t remember buckling your seatbelt, right?
It’s best not to talk to them and to politely decline to give a recorded statement unless your attorney is present. If you have hired an attorney, they can speak with them, and you generally won’t have to.
Settling Too Quickly
Avoid settling your claim too quickly, especially before fully understanding the extent of your injuries and damages. Some injuries may take time to manifest fully, and rushing into a settlement may leave you under-compensated. Consult a car accident attorney to understand your rights and options before accepting settlement offers.
A favorite tactic of claims adjusters is to call an injured claimant as soon as possible after hearing about the accident. They want to speak to them and see if they can get them to agree to a lowball settlement offer before they talk to a car accident attorney and learn what their claim is worth. Far too many unknowing injured parties fall for this tactic, just wanting to cover their bills as soon as possible and trusting that the insurance company has their back.
Overlooking Potential Future Medical Expenses
Don’t overlook potential future medical expenses when negotiating a settlement. Some injuries may require ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, or long-term care.
Work with medical professionals and your attorney to accurately assess the accident’s impact on your future medical needs. Consider the cost of future medical treatments and include them in your claim for fair compensation.
Not Retaining Experienced Legal Representation
Neglecting to seek experienced legal representation, especially in complex or severe motor vehicle accident cases, can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
An experienced car accident lawyer can protect your rights, navigate the legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages. They have the experience to assess the value of your claim, gather evidence, and advocate on your behalf.
The insurance company and their adjusters may tell injured claimants that they will take care of them, and as such, they don’t need a lawyer. This can’t be further from the truth. The insurance company is looking out for their interests only, typically to save as much money as possible. Their goal is not to provide you with full and fair compensation for your damages. However, when you hire an attorney, you will have someone on your side with that goal.
Posting on Social Media
Avoid discussing the accident or your injuries on social media platforms. Insurance companies and defense attorneys often monitor social media accounts for information they can use against you.
Even seemingly innocent posts or comments about a vacation, going out to dinner, or attending a graduation party can be misconstrued and used to undermine your claim. Be cautious about what you share online, and consider adjusting your privacy settings during the claims process.
Some car accident attorneys strongly suggest that their clients shut down their social media accounts altogether during the ongoing claims process. Even if you have strict privacy settings, in some cases, the insurance company for the at-fault party can subpoena your social media information and use it against you.
Forgetting About the Statute of Limitations
After a car accident, it may feel like you have plenty of time to take the necessary actions. However, you must be aware of your state’s statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations differs in every state. It is a strict legal deadline for filing a personal injury claim, like those arising from a car accident. Some states have a statute as little as one year, and others have four or more years.
Even if you think you know your state’s statute of limitations, consulting with an attorney as soon as possible is essential. Extenuating circumstances in your car accident may change the deadline that applies to your case.
For instance, if your minor child suffered an injury in a car accident, the deadline is typically longer for their damages. On the other hand, if the at-fault party to your accident was a government entity, the deadline is usually shorter—sometimes only six months to one year.
Suppose you fail to file your lawsuit within the applicable legal deadline. In that case, the other party will likely request that the judge dismiss the case. Since you missed the deadline, the judge will have no option but to grant their request. At this point, you can no longer use the legal system to seek compensation for your injuries.
Their Knowledge and Experience
Car accident laws and insurance claims can be complex and overwhelming for someone without legal knowledge. An attorney specializing in personal injury and car accident cases has the experience to navigate these complexities.
They understand the legal system, know how to gather evidence, assess liability, and build a strong case on your behalf. Their knowledge and experience can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Protecting Your Rights
Insurance companies have teams of adjusters and attorneys working to protect their interests. You want to have someone in your corner who focuses on protecting your rights.
An attorney will stand up for your rights throughout the process. They will handle all communication with the insurance company, negotiate on your behalf, and ensure you receive fair treatment and the compensation you deserve.
Gathering and Preserving Evidence
Collecting and preserving evidence is essential for building a strong case. Attorneys have the resources and knowledge to gather crucial evidence, such as accident reports, witness statements, medical records, and expert opinions.
They understand what evidence is needed to prove liability and the extent of your damages. By having an attorney handle this process, you can rest assured that they properly obtain and preserve all necessary evidence, strengthening your case.
Accurate Assessment of Damages
Determining the full extent of your damages after a car accident is not always straightforward.
An experienced attorney will assess all the factors, including medical expenses, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and potential future damages. They will work with medical professionals, economists, and other experts to accurately calculate the value of your claim. This ensures that insurance companies do not undervalue your losses or leave you with unpaid bills.
Negotiating Fair Settlements
Insurance companies often try to minimize their payouts by offering low settlements.
An experienced car accident attorney has the negotiation skills and experience to counter these tactics. They will advocate for your best interests, ensuring that any compensation offered is fair and reflects the actual value of your damages. If you cannot reach a fair settlement, an attorney will be ready to take your case to court and litigate on your behalf.
Were You Injured in a Car Accident? Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s crucial to avoid common mistakes that can complicate the recovery process or jeopardize your legal rights. Most importantly, you can navigate the post-accident challenges more effectively by seeking medical attention and working with attorneys.
Remember to prioritize your health, be cautious with your actions and statements, and seek sound legal guidance to ensure a smoother path to recovery and fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Don’t forget that your legal rights are subject to your state’s statute of limitations, so contacting a personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later is in your best interest. Give your attorney proper time to protect your rights and seek fair compensation.