Knowing what to do after a car crash can give you a better chance of getting the compensation you need. However, because car crashes can happen so suddenly, emotional responses afterward can lead to impulsive actions that hurt your case.
So, what are these actions, and how could they stop you from getting compensation for your injuries? Here are a few examples.
1. Admitting fault
You may feel the need to apologize when talking to the other driver, even if the crash wasn’t your fault. Unfortunately, saying anything that makes it sound like you’re guilty can hurt your case. That’s because the other driver could use your words against you.
2. Moving your vehicle too soon
Moving your vehicles shortly after a collision is typically a good idea to facilitate traffic flow. That’s especially true if the crash happened on a busy expressway or neighborhood intersection. However, you may want to document the crash scene before you do. Doing so can help you provide a more objective picture of how the crash occurred and give judges and insurers the smaller details they’ll need to better understand your story.
3. Taking the other driver for their word
You can’t always trust the other person involved in the crash. They might lie to the police about what happened. Or, they may try to misrepresent the situation to avoid legal or financial liability. That’s why fact-checking the other driver and making your voice heard are so important. By documenting the crash right after it happens, you protect yourself from another driver’s misconduct and pave the way for a straightforward claims process.
4. Not seeking medical evaluation
If you suffer injuries from a crash, you can strengthen your case by seeking immediate medical treatment. Even if you don’t sense an injury right away, injury signs and symptoms could show up a few days, weeks, or even months after the crash. Additionally, updated medical records can prove an essential source of evidence for those seeking compensation after a car crash, as they can demonstrate what physical toll the crash took on you and how your injuries are now affecting your everyday life.
5. Not reporting the crash to authorities
Failing to file a police report could cause you to lose out on vital evidence that can strengthen your case. That’s because police car crash reports can contain collision details, driver statements, witness statements, and informative diagrams of vehicle damage.
Additionally, in North Carolina and Virginia, you typically must report car crashes involving injury, death, or property damage. Failing to do so could potentially result in fines or criminal charges.
6. Settling quickly with the insurance company
Your car insurance is supposed to provide a safety net if you get into a crash. Unfortunately, too many insurers care more about paying out as little as they can instead of helping their customers. In many cases, your insurance company may try to push you toward an immediate settlement after a crash. Accepting an initial settlement can be risky, as your insurer may try to pay you significantly less than you deserve, leaving you in a potentially sticky financial situation.
Before you accept their payout, you may want to speak with an attorney. They can give you insight on if you’re getting a fair deal. And if your insurer tries to short you, an attorney can help you seek an appropriate amount of compensation.
7. Waiting too long to file your claim
There are statutes of limitations on when you can file a car crash claim. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations is three years. In Virginia, it’s two years. If you don’t file within these time limits, you could potentially miss your chance to seek payments for medical care or missing wages. Be mindful of these time limits and know that some insurers may try to drag the process out so you miss the filing deadline.
A car crash doesn’t have to ruin your life
A car crash can be a horrific experience. But even if the wreck leaves you injured, it doesn’t have to cause permanent damage. When you account for what could hurt your right to compensation, you can create a solid action plan that brings you closer to getting the care and coverage you need. That way, you can focus on healing and getting back to your normal life.