If you’ve been in a car accident, you are likely overwhelmed, scared, and possibly injured. How you respond to the situation can strongly determine your ability to recover compensation for your injuries and property damage in a future lawsuit. Understanding the most common mistakes people make after a car accident can help ensure that you learn from their experiences.
1. Not Calling the Police
Always call the police. Having an official police report will provide an official public record of your accident and the circumstances surrounding it. The police will describe the scene, relevant traffic lights and signs, speak with witnesses, take down pertinent information, determine liability, and collect evidence that others typically would overlook.
2. Admission of Guilt
Oftentimes, when people are in car accidents, they are shaken up emotionally. They may immediately start saying to the other driver or passengers, “I’m so sorry!” It is highly inadvisable to never admit any kind of guilt after a car accident, even if the entire crash was your fault. Anything you say can be used against you in a court case.
3. Failing to Seek Medical Care
Many people fail to immediately seek medical care if an ambulance does not arrive on the scene. This is the one time you should not “tough it out.” Injuries suffered from car accidents can take hours or days to present themselves and can still be serious or even life-threatening. Some of your injuries may be diagnosed by a medical professional only. Additionally, any medical reports or testing you have done after an accident only goes to bolster your case that you suffered from physical injuries due to the car accident and deserve compensation. In fact, a jury or judge will almost certainly require that you submit medical records to prove the nature and extent of your injuries.
4. Failing to Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Insurance adjusters are trained to be calm and kind on the phone. However, they may attempt to record your answers, or twist your words to imply that you are not as seriously injured as you claim or that you were responsible for causing the accident. Negotiating with insurance companies can be a daunting task, and some people simply do not want to participate in the adversarial process. Never agree to a quick settlement or sign any legal documents that you do not understand with your insurance company.
5. Discussing Your Accident on Social Media
Everyone discusses everything on social media. However, insurance companies have investigators that will scour social media sites to attempt to disprove your claim and settle for less than you deserve. Make sure to never admit guilt or discuss your medical condition on social media, as it can be used against you.
6. Waiting Too Long to File a Claim in Court
The State of California requires that personal injury victims file a claim in court within three years from the date of the accident. While that may sound like a long period of time, after your medical treatment is over and the insurance company has stalled your settlement talks, this time can run out quickly. Always make sure to file your claim in a timely manner, or you will lose your right to receive compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you were in a car accident, caused by the negligence of someone else, you may have the right to receive compensation for your injuries. Contact the Law Office of Daniel H. Rose at 415-946-8900 for your free consultation, and to help you with your next steps.