The moments right after an accident can leave you feeling dazed, overwhelmed, and justifiably upset. Understandably, you may not want to follow the typical protocol, but what you do or don’t do after a car accident can be critical to your case.
The decisions and steps you take in the minutes, hours, and days after your accident can impact your eligibility for compensation or decrease the value of your claim. So be sure to avoid these common seven mistakes after a car accident.
Apologizing or taking responsibility.
Saying sorry after an accident may seem like the right thing to do, but it can work against you. Comments that you make about the accident at the scene could be used later as evidence, so be cautious about your words.
Not calling law enforcement.
Police called to the scene of an accident typically work to figure out how the incident occurred. To do this, they will create a record of facts by speaking with witnesses and drivers, writing an accident report., and issuing tickets.
This kind of evidence could be essential to an injury case. Regardless of what other drivers might say, it might be in your best interest to call the police.
Leaving the scene.
It is normal to panic when you’ve been in an accident or want to return to the comfort of your home. However, leaving the scene is against the law. If you can, stay on the scene until the police have given you notice to leave.
Even if you didn’t cause a car accident, you undermine your credibility and potentially damage your claim when you leave the accident scene. Anyone involved in a car accident has the legal obligation to remain at the accident scene, exchange information with others involved, and help get needed medical care. You can contact an attorney from the scene of the accident if you are unsure what to do, but you should never leave.
Not seeking medical attention.
A common strategy for insurance companies to deny claims or reduce a claim’s value is to argue that a car accident victim had previous injuries or that the injuries are not as severe as the victim claimed.
Letting a physician examine you for common car accident injuries soon after a crash makes any pain, discomfort, or physical injuries a part of your medical record. This proof of your damages and injuries makes it far more difficult for insurance companies to dispute your claim.
Additionally, some car accident injuries do not immediately show symptoms. You might not feel pain or soreness for hours or days, especially if you sustained a traumatic brain injury or soft tissue injuries like whiplash. If you do not seek immediate medical treatment after a car accident, you also risk doing more damage.
Waiting too long to file a claim.
Most states have a Statute of Limitations, which puts a time limit on your right to file suit for personal injury. Once that limit has expired, you can no longer file a claim for that accident. The quickest way to get a claim settlement process moving is by notifying your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. You’ll be assigned a claims adjuster that reviews several aspects, including:
- Police report – can protect you in the event of a lawsuit.
- Medical attention – if you visited the emergency room after the accident.
- Pre-existing injuries – injuries becoming worse after the accident.
- Witnesses – anybody outside of the parties involved that saw the accident occur.
- Photographs – proof of injuries and/or damage.
Generally speaking, it’s best to get your accident case moving as soon as possible to stay ahead of this deadline. Every case is different, so if you have questions about hiring a lawyer, an experienced personal injury attorney should be able to help.
Sharing accident information on social media.
It may be tempting to post details or pictures of an accident or your injuries in today’s social media-saturated world. But the information that you post or share on the internet could be examined later in an investigation.
Try to resist posting anything accident-related until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.
Not seeking the help of a personal injury attorney.
Working alone to get compensated for accident-related injuries can be overwhelming for anyone. An expert personal injury attorney with experience will help you through the legal process, even for the smallest accidents.
Finding a lawyer that you trust in the time after an accident could significantly affect your case’s outcome. If you are the victim of a traffic accident and unsure what to do next, you are not alone.
Car accidents and personal injury lawsuits are a tough, emotional time. At Ludlum Law Firm, our attorneys apply our 50 years of experience fighting for our clients so we can take the worry and stress out of your hands. Contact our Duplin County or Sampson County locations to schedule a visit with us.