Car accidents can be the most impactful factors that can really throw your body out of alignment, and cause long-term effects that go unnoticed initially. The following article has been written by Edward Smith, an experienced lawyer who has dealt with the long-term effects of accidents and has provided some vital advice on how to avoid the most serious mistakes most people make after a car accident.
Getting into a car accident sets a series of events in motion that aren’t always resolved easily or quickly. Injuries are sustained, even in low-speed impacts. Cars are totaled even when they look like they’re still roadworthy. Medical care comes into play, information needs to be collected, and decisions need to be made about your car. All of this needs to be taken care of in the period after the accident by you or someone who can take care of these things on your behalf if you are incapacitated by the accident. Having all of these issues sorted out helps to smooth the processes after a crash. But not taking these steps can cause more problems that become difficult to deal with over time. Following are the most serious mistakes you want to avoid making after a car accident.
Not Getting a Lawyer
You might feel that getting a lawyer after a minor fender bender is overkill. The truth is, a seemingly minor accident can turn into something bigger because of state laws that layout something known as a total loss formula (TLF) for cars. While you can’t get around the TLF set out by the state, you can make sure you get fair treatment by the insurer when you have a lawyer representing you. And you should never assume that your accident is too small for a lawyer to look at; make the call and let the lawyer decide if they want to take the case and guide you through the claims process.
Don’t Refuse Medical Treatment
Many people think that they’re fine after an accident and don’t need to be looked over by a medical professional. This is one of the biggest mistakes they can make for many reasons. Adrenaline is high after an accident, and you may not be feeling the pain from an injury, and you refuse medical treatment. But later on that night or the next day, you find yourself in pain. Always take the medical assessment when offered and go to the hospital if you’re feeling pain later even if you’ve had an evaluation and declined transport. You need, at the very least, medical documentation for your injuries in the event a claim is filed.
Medical documentation shows a treatment plan for the injuries sustained right after the accident. They include things like physical therapy or chiropractic treatment after the wounds have healed. Insurance typically pays for the necessary procedures, and it’s easier to get cooperation from the insurer when you can show there’s a medical necessity for them. Not having the documentation after an accident means you have to work harder to get proper medical treatment as you heal.
Don’t Overlook Collecting Evidence After the Crash
This isn’t always going to be possible, but if you’re able to collect evidence after the crash, you can help yourself greatly as your claim moves forward. Walk around the scene, take as many pictures as you can. Take note of important details such as street names and the direction you were traveling in at the time of the incident. Photograph things like skid marks or a lack thereof if someone failed to use their brakes to avoid the accident. Document debris where it lays to show that it was part of your car or not part of your vehicle. And take pictures of obscured signs or how your view was blocked by an object or structure. Having this information will serve you well with settling an insurance claim or showing in court in case things reach that point.
Notify Your Insurance Company Sooner Than Later
No insurer demands that you contact them immediately after an accident, but you should call them within 24 hours while information is still fresh. When you talk to them, don’t make the mistake of saying you’re at fault for something or taking the blame as the cause of the accident. Just report the information, answer questions as best as you can, and don’t try to make things sound better than they really are. The insurer will conduct its own investigation into the crash and determine which party bears the most or least responsibility. The inquiry will also uncover just how badly damaged the car is and the severity of your injuries. It’s better to be upfront with the details instead of altering them later. And you may also get instructions on where to get damage estimates for your car if it is drivable or asked where the investigator can find the car if it’s immobile.
Don’t Talk to the Other Insurance Company
You might get contacted by a representative from the company that insured the other driver in the crash. Do not talk to the representative until you have spoken with a personal injury lawyer first and retained them as your counsel. While you are legally under no obligation to speak to the other insurer, the insurer may need to talk to you because their client isn’t cooperating. However, this is something best done through your lawyer as the lawyer can determine if you should speak to the other company or not. You need to protect yourself from insurers who want to minimize paying out claims, and the best protection comes from a lawyer.
Avoid Talking to Anyone About the Accident
Anyone who knows details about your accident can be called as a witness in a lawsuit. You also need to avoid talking about the crash on social media because your posts can be used against you in court. The only people you should be talking to is your lawyer and medical professionals involved in your treatment. Respond to the insurance company after your lawyer has told you that it’s OK. Consider talking about details of the accident online or in person a no-go and just give the basic facts until the process has been settled and finished.
Don’t Post Pictures Online
It’s tempting to share the aftermath of an accident on social media sites to show people what happened. It’s better to just say no to posting those pictures. If you want to share after the settlement or lawsuit has ended, you should clear it with your lawyer. Otherwise, keep them in a secure folder on your phone or computer and only show them to those who need to see them.
Many of these mistakes are easy to make if you’re not aware of them, or if you’re not sure what you need to do and say after an accident. Ignoring any of them has the potential to cost you down the road whether it’s during the claim settlement or in a civil lawsuit. Document information, get medical treatment and don’t talk to anyone outside of the insurance company and medical, and legal providers. You’ll have a better outcome when it’s time to settle your case and close out the aftermath of the accident.
About the Author
Edward A. Smith is a Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer who has helped clients all over Northern California with personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1982. In addition to representing those who have been injured in accidents, Ed also assists those who have lost a loved one in a crash. Ed is a California member of the Million Dollar Forum, a group of elite injury lawyers who have won multiple million dollar verdicts and settlements.