Common Mistakes People Make After an Accident
The shock and confusion that people often feel after an accident can cause mistakes to occur. Many things need to happen at about the same time, and omitting one or more can lead to bad outcomes. Car accident mistakes that you make at the scene or in the days that follow can limit your chances of a successful claim for your losses.
Leaving the Scene
Unless you need emergency medical treatment, staying at the scene serves your best interests. When you stay until law enforcement arrives, your very presence protects the details from misinterpretation. Although it is important to seek medical attention after an accident.
As you may expect, the facts about accidents can determine the outcome of your lawsuit. Even when an accident seems minor and not worth pursuing, you do not know how interpretations can change later. By staying at the scene, you preserve valuable evidence about what happened. Your claim to recover compensation rests heavily on proving fault.
If you leave, the police never get to hear your side of the story. You can use the time until police arrive to exchange contact information with the other driver. Leaving the scene can become a major mistake that you regret.
Failing to Call Law Enforcement
The crash report that the police prepare gives a clear picture of the cause of California car accidents. While you may not want to get them involved, you overlook an important advantage by not calling. An essential element of filing a claim with your insurance company, your call to the police makes resolution much easier.
On the scene, police take photographs and track down witnesses to produce pieces of information that contribute significantly to your lawsuit. No one usually questions the accuracy of the information in a crash report. Further, a ticket issued to the other driver can help designate the at-fault driver and prove your case.
Insurance adjusters and personal injury attorneys use police reports as a basis for determining the outcome of lawsuits and compensation settlements.
A natural tendency to express sympathy when something bad happens can produce outcomes that you may not expect. For example, an apology can make others think that you accept responsibility for an accident even when you do not.
When you accept blame or fault, it can make you liable for any injury and damage to the other driver. Besides, you have no way to know the real cause of an accident. Answer questions from the police honestly, but do not offer anything more. Let law enforcement and your attorney work out the details.
Refusing or Delaying Medical Treatment
Injuries from an auto accident may not show up immediately, but that does not mean they do not exist. If you choose to tough it out and not go to a doctor, you can lose an option to recover compensation. A medical exam creates a record of any pains, discomfort, or physical injuries that you sustained.
Some insurance companies may take it as a sign that you did not suffer a serious injury if you do not go to a doctor. Even though a wrong impression, it remains a decisive point in their evaluation of your case.
Equally important, after you see your doctor, the willingness to follow the treatment plan can influence the outcome of a lawsuit.
Ignoring Evidence at the Scene
Even though the police report includes a complete description of an accident scene, you can support your case with pictures on your smartphone.
Pictures of the damage that both vehicles received, and your injuries provide a good start for a description of the accident. Respect the right of the police to conduct inquiries, but contact information for witnesses almost always proves helpful.
The evidence you record may fill in the blanks in case police miss something or get it wrong. So even if you feel uncomfortable asking strangers for their phone number and address, the information you get can make it worth the discomfort.
Sharing Information on Social Media
With the photos of your accident on your smartphone, you must resist the impulse to put them on social media. Whether you downplay it or show it as painful and serious, nothing about sharing information about your accident helps you.
You probably know that the information you put on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter becomes an open source for anyone to see. The insurance investigators know it also, and they search the sites for admissions that you may make.
No one except your attorney needs to know the details of your accident, including how you feel about it. Even a photo of you at a party or restaurant can create the illusion that you have no injury.
Paying Your Own Way
You may have confidence in your insurance company’s willingness to cover any damage to your car or your medical treatment. If you do feel sure of their support, however, you may overestimate their generosity. You need to receive compensation from the other driver’s insurance company, but you must have an attorney to get it. In addition, claims against your policy quite often result in higher premium rates for you to pay.
The time to hire an attorney for California car accidents may come sooner than you realize. Any delay in handling a Personal Injury claim after an auto accident plays to the advantage of the insurance adjuster for the other driver. You may not think you need an attorney until you learn that you do, but you may have already ceded an advantage by then.
Disrespecting Your Insurance Company’s Right to Know
As your insurer, the company that protects you when you drive deserves to know when an accident occurs. So even if you feel well and your car got little damage, you still need to let your insurance company know about it.
Your policy may include coverages that help you pay for medical treatment and lost wages, good reasons to call them. Still, other issues contribute to the importance of telling them what happened. For example, a failure to report an accident to your insurer can provide a basis for denying a claim or even canceling your policy.
Confiding in Adjusters
While candor with your insurance company preserves your standing as a responsible driver, not so with the at-fault driver’s company. You can expect their adjusters to ask you for a recorded statement. No matter how friendly the request may seem, it works directly against you in a lawsuit.
When you direct their inquiries to your attorney, you avoid one of the most common car accident mistakes. Adjusters count on your inexperience with the law to give them an advantage that damages your case. Whether they misrepresent what you said or get you to say more than you mean to, they can use any of it in court.
Handicapping Your Attorney
Almost no one enjoys surprises, and most people dislike them intensely. So, not unexpectedly, your attorney detests them more than almost anyone else when it comes to your case.
Anything that you fail to tell your attorney has an excellent chance of showing up in court. But, even more importantly, it creates a surprise that can have an unhappy ending.
The attorney representing you deserves to know facts you do not want to mention because they do not reflect well on you. Much better to bring it out in your private consultations than create a huge disadvantage for your attorney.
Rushing into a Settlement
It makes sense to want to get compensation for your injuries and the damage to your car as soon as possible. However, the insurance adjuster counts on you to do so. Therefore, an early offer that you receive may not represent the best that you can get.
While you may think of the adjuster as a nice person who tries to give you money, the truth may lie somewhere else. Every dollar that the insurance company does not pay you remains with them, usually leaving you without the fair compensation you deserve. So, try to resist the early offers, and make it difficult for an adjuster to satisfy you.
Going In Alone Without an Attorney
Perhaps one of the biggest and most costly car accident mistakes you can make consists of not hiring an attorney. Unfortunately, insurance companies have attorneys too, and they can easily outdistance you in legal matters.
The dangers that you face when you go it alone can deprive you of the compensation that you deserve. For instance, insurance companies may require a release that prevents you from taking legal action later when complications occur.
Before you decide to represent yourself, consider the risks to your long-term health and financial standing.
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