Getting into an auto accident creates a series of events in motion that aren’t always resolved easily or quickly. Injuries are sustained, even in low-speed impacts. Roadworthy looking vehicles are totaled. Medical care comes into play, information needs to be collected, and decisions need to be made about your automobile. All of these decisions need to be handled after the car accident by you or your Power of Attorney if you are incapacitated by the accident. Having all of these issues sorted out helps to smooth the process after a car crash. Not taking the proper steps can cause more problems following an auto accident that become more difficult to deal with over time.
Here are the 7 worst mistakes you want to avoid making after a car accident:
1. Refusing Medical Treatment
Many people think that they are, “okay” after an auto accident and don’t need to be examined by a medical professional. This is one of the biggest mistakes they can make for many reasons.
The body goes into fight or flight mode when it is in an accident. It is instinctual. The adrenaline is high after an auto accident. You may not feel the pain from an injury, so you decide to refuse medical treatment. But later maybe the next day or later that night, you find yourself in pain.
The insurance company sees a refusal to seek immediate care as a signal that your health condition or pain is not a result of the auto accident. The more time that lapses between the accident and an exam or treatment, the less likely insurance will reimburse or cover care.
Always seek medical attention after an accident and get examined by a doctor. If you declined to take the medical assessment after a car accident when offered and are in pain, seek the help of a doctor and get an exam. You need, at minimum, medical documentation from a physician for your injuries in the event a claim is filed.
Medical documentation shows the results from a physical exam, any x-rays or tests, and a treatment plan for the injuries sustained after the accident. A treatment plan may include services like chiropractic care, decompression therapy, electro-stimulation therapy, or other treatments.
Insurance plans and policies vary. However, most pay for the necessary procedures. It is easier to show a medical necessity for treatment after an auto accident the less time that occurs between an accident and seeking medical care for the injuries. Not having the documentation after an accident means you have to work harder to get proper medical treatment as you heal.
2. Not Getting a Lawyer
It may seem like hiring a lawyer after a fender bender is overkill. However, a seemingly minor accident can turn into something bigger, because of state laws that layout something known as a total loss formula (TLF) for vehicles.
While you can’t get around the TLF determined by the state, you can make sure you get fair treatment by the insurer when you have a lawyer representing you. 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.
3. Overlooking Evidence After A Car Crash
It is not always possible to gather evidence after a crash. However, you can help yourself by gathering evidence after an automobile accident and can help you as your insurance claim proceeds.
What kind of evidence should you collect after an auto accident?
- Walk around the scene and take as many photos as you can.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other individuals (if applicable) in the auto accident.
- Write down details such as street names and the direction you were traveling in at the time of the incident
- Take pictures of things like skid marks or a lack thereof if someone failed to use their brakes to avoid the accident.
- Document debris to show that it was part of your car or not part of your vehicle.
- Don’t forget to photograph obscured signs or how your view was blocked by an object or structure.
Having this information will help you with settling an insurance claim or showing documentation in court if your case reaches the courts.
4. Not Notifying Your Insurance Company Soon Enough
Your safety and the safety of everyone involved in the accident comes first. However, you should call your insurance company within 24 hours of the auto accident.
When you speak to your insurance company, be sure you go back to your notes from the accident and report the facts of the accident for the claim. An accident may cause emotions to be heightened. Be sure to call the insurance company when you are calm. Some individuals may make the mistake of saying they are at fault for something or taking the blame as the cause of the accident without consulting the facts or notes of the case. Just report the information, answer questions as best as you can, and don’t try to make things sound better or worse than they really are.
The insurer will conduct its own investigation into the crash and determine which party bears the most or least responsibility. Their investigation will also determine the value of how much damage the car incurred and the severity of your injuries. It’s better to be upfront with the details instead of altering them later. You may also get instructions on companies to consult for damage estimates for your car, if it is drivable, or asked where the investigator can find the car if it’s immobile.
5. Talking to the Other Insurance Company
Do not talk to anyone at the other insurance company about the accident.
You may be contacted by a representative from the company that insured the other driver in the car crash. You are not obligated to speak to them. Do not talk to the representative from the other insurance company unless you have consulted with a personal injury attorney 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, your attorney will be able to best guide you on whether or not speaking with them is in your best interest. You need to protect yourself from insurers who want to minimize paying out claims, and the best legal protection comes from a lawyer.
6. Talking to Everyone About the Auto Accident
Any individual who knows details about your automobile accident can be called as a witness in a lawsuit. This includes individuals who may have seen you post about your car accident on social media and seen the post. The social media posts can be used as evidence against you in court.
The only people you should be talking to are your doctors, medical team and attorney involved in your treatment. Respond to your insurance company after your lawyer has told you that it’s okay. Do not consider sharing details of the accident online or in person. If you must talk to someone, just tell the basic facts until the process has been settled.
7. Posting Pictures Online
The pictures you took after the accident are for the police and the insurance company. They are not for Facebook or other social media sites. It may be tempting to share an update with friends and family online to let them know what happened. However, it is better to just say, “No” to posting the photos. Even after your settlement or lawsuit has ended, you should clear it with your lawyer first before sharing photos of the accident. Keep the photos in a secure folder on your phone or computer and only share the pictures with those who need to see them.
It can be difficult to know what to do or not to do after a car accident. Many of these mistakes are easy to make if you’re not aware of them. However, making these mistakes after an auto accident has the potential to cost you—whether it’s during the claim settlement or in a civil lawsuit. Be sure to document information, seek medical treatment, and don’t talk to anyone outside of your doctors, insurance company, and legal providers. Following these steps will help you come to the best possible outcome for your auto accident.
If you have been in a car accident, contact our office to schedule an exam. We are happy to help develop a treatment plan and assist you in your recovery. Click to schedule an appointment.
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