Mistakes You Need to Avoid After a Car Accident
Car accidents are horrifying, there’s no doubt about that. It’s not the type of situation where you can expect to act a certain way, either.
Unless you’re trained to function in threatening situations and under the effect of adrenaline – a first responder or a member of the military – you will have a hard time keeping your cool and acting rationally. Unfortunately, this can cause you to make mistakes that might harm you when it comes to insurance and lawsuits. One way to avoid those mistakes is to be aware of them. This article will show you how to maintain a strong case by steering clear of the common mistakes.
Leaving the Scene
This is one of the biggest mistakes, if not the biggest one. Leaving the scene of the accident is a normal reaction, given that we react to danger using our fight or flight response.
Legally, however, you are required to remain at the scene until the authorities arrive. Not only that, but if you run away, you forfeit your right to any compensation as you won’t have any evidence, any names, and most importantly, no statement recorded by the police.
Worst case scenario, the at-fault driver might choose to press charges against you. Remember, there’s no evidence to prove them wrong. To the eyes of the law, you’re the one who fled the scene and are already in the wrong. If you’re involved in an accident, fight your urge to run.
Neglecting to Take Their Information
This step is very important if you’re planning on filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit. When filing a claim, you need to do it as soon as possible.
Meaning, you need to have their information before you leave the scene. For starters, take their insurance information and contact details, and you can read more here about what other information needs to be obtained. When you call your insurance agent, they will ask you about this information, and about what happened, too.
If you give them complete information, they’ll be able to help you. Keep in mind, however, that it’s important not to make any conclusive statements about what happened if you’re not absolutely sure as it may be used against you.
The court often recognizes an apology as an admission of fault. Why would you apologize if you weren’t at fault? Even more damaging to your case is an apology coupled with frantic excuses. First of all, you can check for the driver’s safety and express your concern without apologizing. Second, you don’t know the whole story.
You only know your own side, and so, you can’t fully say it is your fault, can you? You may not have been paying full attention, but they may have been drunk, thus putting you in a tight position that you should have never been in. What you need to do is remain neutral to the best of your abilities. Don’t apologize and don’t go on the defensive but don’t go on the offensive, either.
Not Providing a Statement
When the authorities arrive, they need to take your statement. If they don’t give you their focus, you have the right to request they take your statement. The police report is one of the most crucial documents because it’s prepared by a neutral party after seeing the situation, taking statements from all those involved, and asking the necessary questions.
It’s a report that has great value in court. That’s why you need to make sure you give your full statement. That said, there are some things you need to watch out for when giving your statement. After an accident, you won’t be at your best mentally. There are things you won’t remember and things you won’t notice until after.
What you need to do is say only what you’re sure of. Don’t admit fault, don’t speculate, and don’t assume. If you can’t see any visible injuries, for example, don’t say you’re uninjured. You’ll never know for sure until you’ve had a medical check-up.
Skipping the Medical Check-Up
This can be a fatal mistake to make, both literally and figuratively. When you’ve been involved in a car accident, you need to see a doctor as soon as you can, even if you can’t find any visible injuries. It’s common for certain injuries, like internal bleedings, to have delayed symptoms and no visible effects.
Other injuries, like concussions, can have subtle symptoms, like headaches and fatigue, which can make it hard for someone who has just been through a traumatic event to identify them. Moreover, when adrenaline kicks in, it numbs the pain of one’s injuries for a while to keep them primed and ready to react to danger. All of these factors combined can cause you to skip a visit to the doctor which can, in turn, prevent them from identifying a serious injury on time.
In addition to it being an unnecessary risk, neglecting a prompt medical check-up can severely damage your case, legally speaking. Insurance companies, judges, and juries look at medical check-ups as an indicator of the severity of an accident. An inexcusably delayed check-up sends the message that the injuries weren’t painful enough for you to seek medical attention.
Not to mention, any lawyer could argue that whatever injury you have sustained could have occurred at any time between the time of the accident and your medical check-up. If you were indeed hurt in the accident, why did you wait for such a long time before you went to see a doctor?
As you read this, you’re invited to use your imagination for some role-play. To keep yourself prepared, go through what you might do if the situation became a reality. Develop some phrases you feel comfortable using when disaster hits. How would you approach the other driver?
How would you ask them for their contact information? What can you tell the police about the accident without commenting about anything you’re uncertain about? The more you rehearse, the deeper this information is going to be embedded in your brain. Meaning, it will become your automatic, keeping you from making any critical mistakes after a car accident.