At some point, virtually every driver on the road will be involved in a vehicle accident of some kind. It’s an unnerving experience, even when it’s minor; there’s something about the squeal of tires and the crunch of metal that people always remember. Not everyone who is the victim of an accident will pursue a claim with an insurance company, but that option is always available, so there are some things no accident victim should ever do or say at the site of an accident or in the immediate aftermath; things that can cause serious problems with any insurance claim and could significantly reduce the amount of damages or settlement you receive for an injury.
While everyone should make sure all injuries are treated and that the authorities are notified, there are simply a number of things you should never do if you have been in an auto accident, like these:
- Never wait to get medical treatment — Getting checked out immediately is important because many injuries aren’t immediately apparent and visible, and even those types of injuries can become worse over time. Sometimes, the accident causes an accident victim’s adrenaline to surge, which can effectively cover up any possible injuries that may have been incurred in the accident. By seeking medical attention immediately, you can get an understanding of your injuries and it ensures that your injuries are documented early on, which will help with any eventual claim.
- Never admit to fault. — This is one of the most common mistakes people make after an accident, especially if they didn’t cause it. Even jumping out of your vehicle and apologizing can hurt any case you may have down the road, even if you think it’s the polite thing to do. By doing that, you’re admitting fault early on, which hurts your chances to recover compensation for injuries or damages even before the accident and its causes have been fully investigated. Even if you think it’s your fault early on, it’s entirely possible that a full investigation may show the other driver at fault.
- Don’t provide anyone with too much information. — Only offer the people at the scene, including first responders and the other driver, the information that’s required by law, such as your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information. Don’t give any additional details, including any information about any health condition you may have had before the accident, your state of mind or anything else, any information you give may be used against you when you file a claim. Insurance companies will jump at anything to avoid having to pay a claim.
- In fact, don’t speak to anyone without a lawyer. — Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys will almost always try to contact you after an accident, to try to get a recorded statement from you. Never speak to anyone like that without an attorney present; if you choose to not get an attorney (a big mistake), never speak to them at all. Their questions will seem innocuous, but they’re looking for information. They may ask how you’re feeling and you’ll answer the way most polite people do and say you feel fine, the insurance adjuster now has you on the record, saying you felt fine a day or two after the accident.
- Don’t accept the first offer — You may be in a hurry to settle your claim, get your money and get it all over with, but you should know that the faster your claim is settled, the less the insurance company will pay, and it may not even be enough to cover your losses. Often, the insurance company will offer you a quick settlement before you or your attorney can make an accurate assessment of your injuries and damages. Keep in mind, the insurance company’s goal is to pay as little to you as possible, so the first offer will likely be the lowest possible offer.
- Don’t ignore your doctor’s treatment recommendations — If you require treatment for your injuries, follow your doctor’s instructions exactly and do not miss any doctor’s appointments. Failure to show up for every appointment and follow every instruction can serve to support the insurance company’s claims that you weren’t really hurt that badly.
- Don’t just guess what everything is worth. — You may think you’re saving money by not getting a lawyer to handle your auto accident case, but the fact is, you don’t know how much it will cost to repair your car and you won’t know how much your medical bills will come to. A good personal injury attorney can consult experts to give you a reasonable expectation of how much your case is worth, without a pure guess. Quite often, clients are surprised at how much they can get because they don’t have experience and don’t know enough to consider all possible factors.
The best possible advice, however, is to make sure you actually do something to help you recover; contact one of the auto accident injury attorneys at Adame Garza LLP to answer your questions and guide you through the things you should do. Our attorneys have successfully handled these types of accidents for many years and we understand the physical and emotional difficulties that come with every accident and every injury.
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