In the heat of the moment after a car accident, your pulse may be racing and your mind right along with it. It’s hard in these circumstances to collect your thoughts. But if you don’t, you may hurt your chances to recover money to cover your losses.
Here’s a list of common mistakes that you should never make if you’re the victim of an accident.
1. Admitting that it’s your fault
If you say the accident was your fault or even apologize for the accident, anyone else involved in the accident or even your insurance company can use this information against you to deny you compensation. Don’t try to explain what happened. Don’t say things like “I tried to slow down” or “I looked down for only a second.” Statements like these can come back to bite you.
2. Not calling 911
No matter how minor you think an accident is, it’s important to have the police take an objective report of what happened in the case. This way, you’ll have clear documentation to share with your insurance company and the court, and you’ll also prevent the other driver from making false claims.
3. Leaving the scene of the accident
Both North Carolina and Virginia law require you to stop your vehicle and stay at the scene of an accident that causes property damage or injury to a person. If you fail to stay, you’ll be charged with a crime for your hit and run and may be subject to criminal fines and jail time.
4. Skipping medical treatment
Even if you think you’re fine after an accident, you may have hidden injuries that show up days or even weeks or months later. That nagging soreness may be more than whiplash—it may be a soft tissue sprain. Or that confusion you feel may be more than just stress—it may be a concussion. Don’t just say that you’re OK after an accident. You can say that you don’t need an ambulance, but definitely get checked out by your primary care physician as soon as you can.
5. Not exchanging insurance details
Even if you think the accident is minor or only caused a little damage, it’s important to get insurance information from anyone else involved in the accident. As we mentioned above, it may be hard to tell what injuries you may have suffered, and you may notice additional damage to your property later. Make sure you take down the other drivers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, car descriptions, license plate numbers, and insurance information.
6. Not documenting the accident scene
Take photos of everything you can to document the scene, including road conditions, traffic signs and signals, and anything else of note. Then document the damage to each car so you have a record that you can share with your attorney, insurance company, and court.
Note that this doesn’t mean that you should post all of your pictures and write about the drama on social media. Remember that anything you post on your social media accounts can be used against you in your claim.
7. Not alerting your insurance company
If you don’t contact your insurance company immediately after an accident, you may not be able to recover the costs for any property damage or your injuries. Just be careful about what you share and when you share it. If you have a lawyer, it’s smart to talk to them first so you can decide what statements to provide.
8. Waiting too long to take action
If you’ve been injured in an accident, time is of the essence. You can’t wait to get medical care, because you’re putting your health and your ability to document your injuries at risk. You can’t wait to investigate, because you may lose important evidence. You can’t wait to call the insurance company, because you may lose your right to compensation. And you can’t wait to call a lawyer, because they need time to prepare your case before the deadline to file, called the statute of limitations, expires.
9. Not calling a personal injury lawyer
A personal injury lawyer is your guardian angel if you’ve been involved in an accident. They can explain what compensation you’ll be entitled to, ensure your rights are protected, and help you avoid mistakes like the ones above, so you’ll be able to get what you deserve.
If you try to go it alone, you may not understand the full extent of your claim and risk having a court dismiss your case. Studies also show that when car accident victims ask lawyers for help with an accident claim, they get 3.5 times more compensation than those who don’t.
A personal injury lawyer can help you work through your options after a car accident
At Hunter & Everage, we’re here to talk you through all of the choices you’ll have to make after a car accident. We’ve helped many others like you handle the aftermath of an accident, and we’ll offer the guidance that you need. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation if you’ve been involved in an accident in Charlotte, North Carolina, or Richmond, Virginia.