We’ve all been in car accidents before. Usually, there’s a little damage to the car, and you call the insurance company, take the car to a repair shop, and the insurance company pays for the damage. But when you are injured in an accident, the stakes are much higher. You may suffer long-lasting consequences that can affect your ability to work, impair your mental health, or even make it harder for you to do daily tasks. Even seemingly “simple” injuries can turn out to be much more later.
It’s important that you take the right steps after your accident, including calling a personal injury lawyer, to protect your claim and your future settlement. Unfortunately, too many people make mistakes right after their accident that cost them dearly. Here are a few of those common mistakes that you should avoid after your car accident:
Failing to Call the Police
Sometimes, you just want to be “nice” and don’t want to cause any “trouble” for the other person. You might agree to let the person pay damages on their own, or you might think you can just write down each other’s information and let the insurance company sort things out. The trouble is that the person may not follow up on what they say, and if you try to work with the insurance company directly, you may put yourself at risk of having your claim denied or undervalued.
You should always call the police when there’s an accident, no matter how minor it is and even if you think that you aren’t injured. The police will file a report documenting the details of the accident, which will come in handy later if you are due a settlement from the insurance company.
Failing to Take Pictures or to Keep Damaged Property
Even if you call the police and file a report after your accident, you aren’t going to get all the details you need to prove what happened beyond a shadow of a doubt. The police will note things like where the vehicles were found, what witnesses reported, and any evidence they see, such as tire marks on the road. However, they will not get as detailed in their report as you will need to be if you have to bring a personal injury lawsuit.
You need to take plenty of pictures of the accident scene, including the location of the vehicles, any obstacles or items around the cars that were factors in the accident, and any damage to the vehicles. You should also take pictures of your visible injuries. Keep any damaged property until the case is settled, even if your car was totaled. That way, if any questions arise, officials can examine the property.
Making a Recorded Statement
You can count on the insurance company calling you after the accident to ask you what happened. You can also count on the insurance company trying to trick you into saying something that will undermine your case.
NEVER admit fault in the accident or that something you did might have contributed to it. That will almost certain reduce the amount of the settlement you will get. Avoid talking to the insurance company at all without a personal injury lawyer, and NEVER give a recorded statement. The insurance company will scrutinize that and use whatever it can to reduce its liability.
Using an Independent Doctor
The insurance company may push you to be examined by an “independent” doctor after your accident, rather than your own physician. The trouble is that the doctor may not be as independent as the insurance company claims. The doctor may have a history of performing such evaluations for the insurance company and making claims that favor the company’s case.
Your own physician has no such allegiance, and can compare your current health and injuries to your health history. That can prove invaluable if you have to argue that you have suffered long-lasting effects from your accident.
Accepting a Quick Settlement
You may want to get your case over with as quickly as possible. You’ve already been through a serious accident and suffered major injuries. You have bills to pay, and you don’t want this stressful case to continue. So you just accept the settlement that the insurance company offers you.
The problem is that the insurance company is almost certainly going to offer you less than what you deserve. Accepting that offer will make it much harder, if not impossible, for you to collect the full settlement to which you are entitled. Make sure you are working with a great personal injury attorney to get the maximum settlement you deserve to pay for your medical bills, time lost from work, emotional suffering, and more.
You may be confused or distressed after your accident, but you need to keep your wits about you if you are going to have the best chance of getting the right settlement for your injuries. Remember to call a personal injury attorney for guidance and to avoid these common mistakes.
Rasmussen Injury Law is ready to help you if you have been injured in an accident in Phoenix, Tucson, or the surrounding areas. Our team of Arizona personal injury attorneys has decades of experience in representing clients just like you and helping them get the compensation they deserve after a car crash. We will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf or take the case to court for a personal injury lawsuit, if necessary. Call our law office to schedule a consultation with one of our auto accident injury attorneys today.