Preparation is key for most things in life. This is especially true in case of an accident or a catastrophic event. In the United States, there are approximately 6 million auto accidents annually. Nearly a third of these collisions cause non-fatal injuries. Considering those statistics, it makes sense to be prepared for a car accident. That prep should include learning about common mistakes motorists make after they’re in a vehicle accident, so you can avoid them. This list will help.
Mistakes to Avoid After a Vehicle Accident
- Skipping a Police Report This official documentation will be invaluable if you need to file a claim later. It prevents the other party from denying that the accident happened. Plus, initial statements are often the most truthful. Later, people start revising their stories, trying to minimize fault. A police report makes this backtracking difficult. And you must never flee the scene of an accident, even if you think the incident was a minor fender bender.
- Ignoring the Insurance Information Exchange Oftentimes, a motorist will try to convince you to settle the damage privately. This is common when it looks like no one has been hurt. They tell you they don’t want to involve their insurance company for fear of a premium increase. Don’t let them guilt you into accepting this arrangement. Explain that you need their insurance information in case things are more serious than they appear. Be sure to get their full name and contact information along with their insurance details. Ask to see their driver’s license and take a picture of it with your phone.
- Making Ill-advised Statements at the Scene Your natural inclination may be to apologize. Resist the urge. Your simple “I’m sorry” can be used against you as an admission of fault. You should also avoid telling the other driver or people at the scene that you’re okay or you’re not hurt. That may be the case, but it’s premature to make those statements before you’re sure. If you realize later that you were injured in the car accident, that contrary comment at the scene will likely work against your claim.
- Failing to See a Healthcare Provider Again, you may believe that everything is fine. So, there’s no need to see a doctor. But a rush of adrenaline is common after an accident. This hormone can mask the pain of an injury. The day after your accident, you might be in a great deal of pain. And with soft tissue injuries, like whiplash, it may be several days before the ache sets in. Obviously, you can still seek medical attention. But the insurance company will try to use any delays in seeking medical care to fight your injury claim. Additionally, internal bleeding or traumatic brain injury may not be readily evident. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional right away to rule out these potentially serious injuries.
- Not Documenting the Accident When you’re physically and safely able, you should gather evidence at the scene of the collision. Take pictures of the site, the vehicles, and any damage. Note anything that may have contributed to the crash – like the weather, poor visibility, or road construction. If there are witnesses, ask for their names and contact information. This evidence will be helpful if you need to file a claim later.
- Not Following up With Your Doctor If you did sustain an injury in the accident, the initial trip to the ER or Urgent Care isn’t enough. Schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor to seek treatment. Depending upon the nature of your injury, you may need a referral to other medical professionals. Be sure to follow-up and comply with your doctor's orders and treatment plan.
- Telling the Insurance Adjuster Too Much/Accepting a Quick Settlement Always understand that regardless of whether it’s your insurance company or the other driver’s carrier, the adjuster does not work for you. They represent their employer – the insurance carrier. The goal of an insurance adjuster is to settle a claim for their company as inexpensively as possible. They will use any information you provide to accomplish that goal. The best way to deal with an insurance company is through a Car Accident attorney.
- Posting About Your Accident on Social Media If you’re like most Americans, you use social media. And you’ll probably be tempted to tell all your friends, family, followers, and other social media contacts about your accident online. It’s a bad idea, and you should resist it. If you end up filing a claim, the other side will look for ways to defeat your case. Your comments and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites may be used to discredit you and disprove your injury claims.
- Not Fighting Your Accident-Related Traffic Citation If a police officer issued a traffic ticket to you at the scene, you don’t want to just pay and walk away. It will look like an admission of fault. While it’s not easy to overcome the impression of liability that accompanies a moving violation, it’s not impossible. Sometimes, both drivers are cited. If you don’t fight your ticket and the other party does, that will likely work against your claim.
- Handling an Accident Claim Without a Lawyer If you’re injured in a car accident or any of your passengers have been hurt, you should talk to an experienced car accident attorney. A lawyer can advise you of your rights and weigh in on the strength of your claim. If you have a viable case, your attorney will help you seek the compensation you need to help in your treatment and recovery. They’ll deal with the insurance companies, gather evidence, and build a case.
At The Reinartz Law Firm, our attorneys have been helping New Jersey car accident victims for many years. We have the knowledge and resources to help injured motorists seek the compensation they need and deserve. Contact our firm to discuss your car accident.