Too often, many mistakes happen after a car accident. To avoid making these mistakes, it’s important to be ready to react after an accident before it happens. Bryant Law Center attorney, Kevin Shannon, lists 10 common mistakes people make after a car accident.
Mistake #1 Not Calling the Police
Always call the police, even for a minor accident. When the police arrive at the accident, a police report will be filled out to document the accident. A police report is important to have and can be used in court to record the accident in case the other driver makes false claims. Though the accident may appear minor at the scene, shock and stress wear off later and may reveal more damage to your vehicle or yourself than you realized. If you do not have a police report as evidence during a court hearing for a lawsuit, you could hurt your case. Do not let the other driver talk you out of calling 911. Always call the police and file a police report.
Mistake #2 Admitting Fault
Never admit fault or say “I’m sorry” after an accident. Even if you believe the accident was your fault, evidence collected may determine otherwise. If you admit fault, you will hurt your case if the accident goes to court or if you try to collect damages to your car or injuries. Never admit fault before talking to your attorney.
Mistake #3 Underestimating Your Injuries
Do not underestimate your injuries after an accident. Even if you feel fine initially, pain from an injury may not occur until after the shock and stress fade away. Injuries may not be apparent until long after the accident. Never say you are “okay” or “fine” after an accident. Instead, say you “do not need an ambulance at this time.” If you say you are not hurt, it may make claiming insurance difficult. If an ambulance is called after an accident, tell the EMS about every symptom you feel, no matter how minor they may seem. If you have injuries you know of after the accident, go to the ER immediately. If an ambulance is not called after the accident, schedule a full medical checkup as soon as possible, especially if you may have hit your head. Never self-assess your injuries. Leave that to your doctor.
Mistake #4 Not Exchanging Insurance Information
Regardless of how minor an accident, always exchange insurance information with the other driver. With the shock and stress involved in an accident, damages and injuries may occur later. Collect the following information from the other driver:
- phone number
- license number
- insurance information
- make and model of car
Mistake #5 Failing to Gather Evidence
While waiting for the police to arrive, gather evidence. Make sure you file a police report and get a copy of the report after it is submitted. If any information is wrong, no matter how minor, make sure it is changed on the official police report. Even if you do not plan to take the accident to court initially, you may be more seriously injured than you originally thought and need to pursue legal action at a later time. Having the evidence you need will help you with your case.
Evidence to gather:
- name and contact information of any witnesses
- ask for statements by witnesses
- photos of the accident including damage to both cars, condition and layout of the road, lighting condition at the time of the accident, and position of each vehicle when the crash occurred
Mistake #6 Not Contacting an Attorney
Not contacting an attorney will cost you. Having car insurance does not mean you do not need an attorney to help settle your claim. Your insurance company will tell you not to seek a lawyer simply because it will likely save them money. The process of seeking compensation for your accident can be complicated, and a lawyer can handle the extensive paperwork and handle your insurance company while you recover.
Mistake #7 Not Understanding Your Rights
It is important to know your rights and what you can be compensated after a car accident. You may be entitled to damages including property loss, medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. It is best to contact an attorney to help claim what you deserve after an accident.
Mistake #8 Not Contacting the Insurance Company
Always contact the insurance company. Even if your accident is minor with little to no damage, you could prevent yourself from recovering property damage or compensation for your medical bills. Before giving an insurance company written or recorded statements about the accident, always seek legal advice from a lawyer.
Mistake #9 Accepting a Quick Settlement
Never accept a quick settlement from your insurance company. If a quick settlement is offered, your adjuster is most likely paying you less money than you deserve. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot reopen your case with the insurance company. Over time, your minor injuries or car damage may turn into something major. Make sure your claim is enough to cover any long-term effects of an accident.
Mistake #10 Waiting Too Long To Act
Do not wait to take action after an accident. Seek immediate medical attention and gather evidence as soon as possible. If you wait too long, evidence including video surveillance footage and witnesses may no longer be accessible or remember the accident vividly. If you wait to contact a lawyer, you will have less of a chance getting a lawyer to take your case. Keep in mind that legal rights have deadlines called statutes of limitations which typically expire two years after your accident. If you miss the statutes of limitations on your rights, you lose compensation to your claim.