At the time of an accident, you’re likely nervous and panicked about what might happen next. You may be wondering: Will the damage be covered by insurance? Is anyone injured? Was it my fault?
It’s important to stay level-headed in this difficult time. Even though it’s not easy to compose yourself in the wake of an accident — especially if you or a loved one has suffered an injury — the actions you take now could have far-reaching implications.
If you’re involved in one of the nearly 6 million traffic collisions per year in the U.S., remember to first take a deep breath and approach the incident with clarity. Whatever the circumstance, keep this list with you as a reminder of what not to do.
Don’t Make These 8 Mistakes After a Crash
- Fleeing the Scene
Regardless of how harmless an accident appears, you’re required by law to check on the other driver, exchange information, and contact law enforcement. If any property damage or injuries have been inflicted, it is an automatic misdemeanor to leave the scene of an accident. Depending on the scenario, fleeing could also be punishable by fines or jail time.
- Not Calling the Police
No matter how the accident unfolds, it’s important to call the police and file a report. If no police officer arrives to document the accident, proof that it happened and the details of the incident will be sparse, leaving room for disputes and shifting stories later. Having a report on file will speed up the claims process and create crucial documentation in the case of long-term injury or automobile troubles.
- Neglecting Proper Documentation
If you decide to file a personal injury claim related to your accident, more documentation is always your friend. After an accident, remember to:
a. Take photos of the scene and the cars involved;
b. Note the name, address, phone number and driver’s license of the driver(s)
d. Document the other driver’s car insurance company and policy number;
e. Record the full names of any passengers involved; and
f. Gather correct contact information for the police officer filing the report.
- Admitting Fault
Admitting fault either at the scene or in a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company automatically puts you, your insurance company, and your lawyer at a disadvantage. While it can be tempting to apologize in the heat of the moment after a crash — even when you didn’t do anything wrong — just remember that assigning fault isn’t your job and leave it to the law enforcement professionals and attorneys who may handle the case.RELATED: Why Not Reporting A Car Accident Is A Bad Idea
- Denying Any Injury
Just because you feel okay after an accident doesn’t mean you’re fine. Adrenaline may be masking major or minor injuries, and an untreated minor injury could get worse over time. In addition, telling people you do not need medical treatment could prevent you from receiving personal injury compensation from the at-fault party. Prompt examination is required to tie injuries to a car accident, so it’s best to and pay close attention to any lingering symptoms and get medical treatment if you have any injury, even if it’s minor.
- Signing a “Quick-Hit” Release
Sometimes insurance companies will try to get people to sign a release within days of an accident. They do this by offering some amount of money, such as $500, plus the payment of “reasonable medical bills.” This may seem like a good deal at first, but your injuries could be worse than you think they are after just a couple of days.They could last years or cause long-term problems. In addition, the insurance company may later contest medical bills and claim they are not “reasonable” since the release only obligates them to pay “reasonable medical bills.” It is best to wait at least a week or two to allow your body to heal and find out if you have any lingering injuries before signing a release. If you have had any medical treatment, make sure that you complete the entire course of treatment before signing anything.
- Speaking to an Insurance Adjuster
While an insurance adjuster — either from your own insurance company or the other party’s — may contact you for a statement, it’s important to understand that you do not have to and should not give them a statement before you’ve spoken with experienced legal counsel, especially if they represent the other side. Insurance adjusters are out to represent the insurance company’s interests and pay you as little money as possible, and anything you say to them could be used against you later in court.
- Not Contacting an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Assessing the long-term consequences of your injury and whether you have a viable legal case is a massive task for an untrained person to handle in the aftermath of a crash. Since a quality personal injury attorney will offer free, no-risk initial consultations, there’s no downside to speaking with a lawyer and receiving an expert assessment regarding your case. Meanwhile, if you choose not to contact a lawyer, you’ll likely face an uphill battle in terms of receiving compensation, and you could lose the opportunity to pursue justice forever due to the statute of limitations on personal injury cases.
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Contact Myers Law Firm if You’ve Been Injured
At Myers Law Firm, we understand that stress, anger, and confusion often accompany a senseless injury. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we’re here to help. When you choose us to represent you, we’ll act as your advocate and use our legal experience and resources to fight relentlessly on your behalf until your case reaches a resolution.
Call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out the contact form on our website to schedule your free consultation with us. We will use this time to get to know you, learn about your case, and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence.
Definitions, Article 1, Chapter 50, N.C. General Statutes. § 50-16.1A. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/BySection/Chapter_50/GS_50-16.1A.pdf
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