Shock and confusion often cause people to make mistakes after a car accident. These mistakes have critical effects when it is time to file an injury settlement or seek compensation (click graphic to see full version):
1. Driving Away Immediately
Quickly leaving the area is the equivalent of hit-and-run and has become very prevalent, hitting record highs in recent years. In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that more than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute in the US.
Failure to stop and stay at the scene of the car accident is a crime. In some ways, it may also imply guilt. Whether it’s due to fear or an impulse reaction, never drive away right after a collision.
In Arizona, here is what happens to the driver who flees the scene of a car accident:
- He/she will be charged with class 2 misdemeanor
- His/her driver’s license will be suspended
- A possible one-year conviction
Therefore, all drivers involved in a car accident must remain in the area to exchange contact details. If there is a person injured, the able driver should also give assistance.
2. Delaying Medical Attention
Around the world, road accidents cause injuries to millions of people every year, according to the World Health Organization. In spite of this, many victims of car accidents still underestimate their injuries. It is only after the symptoms have become worse that they finally see a doctor. This can affect your case.
Watch out for these common signs of serious physical injuries:
- Muscle soreness or stiffness
- Painful movement of joints
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Throbbing headache
- Confusion or disorientation
- Deep wounds or lacerations
- Breathing trouble
Due to the forces brought by the vehicle collision, any of the symptoms above may reveal:
- whiplash injuries
- bone dislocation or fractures
- internal bleeding
- traumatic brain injury
- spinal cord injuries
Ignoring possible injuries may cause debilitating suffering. Even worse, delaying medical treatment will affect the validity of your claim. For example, if a few weeks have already passed before you get a medical check up, insurance companies see this as a sign that you are not really hurt at all. Some may argue that the car accident may no longer be the cause of the injuries due to the time lapse.
In relation to this, missing doctor’s appointments may prolong recovery time. Ignoring medical follow-ups may also imply that the extent of the injury may not be as bad as you claim it to be. That is why you should prioritize all the medical treatments as soon as you can.
3. Saying Sorry
In a situation such as a car accident, saying sorry becomes more than a sign of empathy. No matter how sincere it may be, “Sorry” is a clear admission of guilt. It automatically puts all the blame to the one who said it. This is one of the most common mistakes after a car accident.
To avoid admitting fault, it is better to ask if the person in the other vehicle is okay. Then, call the police at once, and an ambulance if needed. By giving help, you can still express empathy without compromising future claims.
4. Not Seeking a Police Report
As estimated by the NHTSA, about 10 million or more accidents go unreported each year. This means that a large number of car accident cases are not validated by the authorities. Hence, the lack of documentation causes loopholes on future injury claims.
Police officers are adept in looking for clues to assess the common causes of car accidents. A comprehensive police report serves as justifiable evidence that may be used to determine who is truly at fault.
5. Failing to Gather Own Evidence
It is wise to take as much evidence as possible while the police and emergency teams are still on their way, creating a firsthand narrative that may be crucial during litigation.
The other party may likely fabricate allegations to defend their claim. A car accident victim must always collect evidence to support his/her case.
Here are some ways to gather evidence:
- Recording videos of the aftermath of the vehicle collision
- Taking photos of the placement of the vehicles and the extent of damages
- Shooting pictures of skid marks and other crucial elements on the road
- Obtaining copies of CCTV or surveillance videos from buildings across the street
- Collecting all files of medical treatments, and pictures of injuries
- Seeking interviews from witnesses at the time of the accident
- Documenting the costs of damages to the vehicle, and all the related expenses
6. Posting on Social Media
As people’s lives become intertwined with social media nowadays, it is likely that what happened recently will be posted somewhere. Resist the urge to divulge any information to avoid making critical mistakes after a car accident.
Social media has become a place where friends and connections discuss personal matters. They may ask why, what, and how it happened. The victim might indirectly assume fault while answering questions and exchanging comments.
This is where insurance companies primarily investigate. Agents will pry on the other party’s social media accounts to find fault and invalidate legal claims.
7. Speaking to Insurance Companies
No matter how urgent it seems, avoid speaking to your own and to the other party’s insurance company right away. You need to avoid this because insurance companies have ways of attempting to reduce any financial claims. As the victim’s needs and conditions change, the justifiable amount of compensation will increase. The amount first offered might not be enough to cover all the damages from the accident.
There are certain things that insurance companies may ask you to do. You can prevent compromising your legal rights by not agreeing to do the following:
- Signing insurance forms, waivers, and binding contracts
- Accepting first offers for injury settlement
- Accomplishing medical authorizations
- Giving interviews which may be recorded and used to dispute claims
8. Not Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Getting a lawyer by your side is the best way to defend your legal claims. A trustworthy Arizona Car Accident Lawyer will take care of the negotiations on all the insurance companies and parties involved. Even if the party at fault takes deliberate steps to delay the settlement, an experienced attorney will find ways to defend your case.
In fact, in a 1999 study conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), it was found out that claimants who hired an attorney for their car accident case – received a higher reimbursement for their economic loss. Even better, reports show that by hiring an attorney, the victims have claimed insurance payouts which are 3.5 times higher than the amount claimed by those without legal representation.
Moving on gets better by avoiding these mistakes after a car accident. Seeking professional help prevents the blame game; hence, reaching a fair solution for all.