A car accident can be one of the most shocking and stressful things with which you will ever deal. Depending on the severity of the car accident, you or a loved one may be left with serious life-altering injuries, so it’s natural to feel a bit lost after you’ve been in a collision. Don’t feel lost, get help. Contacting a lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean a lawsuit is in the works, it simply means that you want to know what’s happening with your claim.
Making certain mistakes after a car accident – even unintentionally – may cause you to lose money on your insurance claim. Without that compensation, you could potentially be stuck with medical bills for years to come. Make sure to avoid these common mistakes that can ruin your car accident case.
Not Obtaining a Police Report
A police report is required after any accident, serious or not. This report will act as the voice of authority during your case by giving the official perspective of what happened during the accident.
Call the police after an accident – no matter how small – to have them create a report of the incident. This report will include both drivers’ perspectives of what happened and will act as both parties’ official document of the event in the case that one party changes their account of what happened.
Leaving the Scene of the Accident
You may be tempted to drive away without stopping to exchange information or obtain a police report if it’s only a mild accident. However, leaving the scene of an accident could result in more serious charges down the line and potentially cost you the case, even if the other party is at fault. It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove. You won’t have solid support for your perspective without stopping to talk with the other driver, witnesses or a police officer. It’s best to take pictures of the damage – minor or not – and position of each party’s vehicle, prior to moving from the scene. This can help to prove who was truly at fault, should the case go to court.
Not Getting Witness Testimony
It’s very likely that both drivers will attempt to blame the other individual, unless it’s clear who’s at fault. Third-party witnesses can be crucial for supporting your statements.
If there are other individuals who stop during the time of the accident, be sure to speak with them about what they saw. As an outsider, there’s a chance they may have seen the series of events differently, which is necessary information to your case. Gather their name, phone number and ask if they would be willing to relay this information to the police officer who comes to make a report.
Forgetting to Get Insurance Information
Insurance information should always be exchanged with the other driver no matter the severity of the accident, or who’s at fault. No exceptions.
When taking down the other driver’s insurance information, be sure to collect the policy number, insurance provider, contact information for the insurance company and the driver’s personal information. It’s also a good idea to document the car’s license plate, make, model and color.
Not Documenting the Damage
In the event of an accident, there is typically damage to both vehicles and potentially surrounding property such as street signs or lamp posts. Understanding the extent of the damage is important for insurance purposes and the outcome of your case.
Take photos of all the damage resulting from the accident. If you have a cell phone, you are likely to have a camera, so don’t forget to use it! If you don’t have a camera available, ask if a witness would be able to take a few photos and email them to you. You will also want to document any injuries you or your passengers have sustained.
Delaying or Refusing Medical Attention
If your injuries aren’t severe, it’s possible to decline medical attention until you’ve gathered the necessary information for your insurance company or personal injury attorney. However, don’t delay medical attention for too long or you may unintentionally show the court that your injuries may not warrant compensation. This may cause distrust in your statements and could potentially harm the outcome of your case.
Waiting to Ask for Legal Help
After you’ve been in an accident, you’ll need to work with both your insurance provider and the insurance provider of the other driver to get the vehicles repaired. You may not need an attorney to walk you through the process for a minor accident without injuries, but more serious accidents will require a car accident attorney’s expertise.
Waiting to ask for legal help can ruin your claim. It’s possible for these situations to be convoluted with details that make it difficult to navigate without an expert’s opinion. Even if your claim never goes to court, a legal perspective is excellent for understanding and assessing your situation in order to know how to properly move forward.
Not Keeping Accurate Records
When you ask for compensation for your injuries, lost wages and medical bills, you will need to be able to accurately evaluate the damages for which you are asking to be compensated for. Unfortunately, you can’t just name however much money you want and expect the insurance carrier or court to hand it to you.
If you’re not keeping accurate records of the amount of time you’ve missed at work, the cost of your medical expenses or other information the court may need, you could miss out on the full payout. Keep receipts from all expenses related to the accident, including repairs, towing, rental cars and more.
Being prepared for an accident is only half the battle. It’s best to speak to an attorney, even if you think the situation doesn’t deem it necessary. The best part… initial consultations are always free of charge! Arm yourself with the information you need about your rights to be able to make an informed decision on how to proceed.
The Law Office of Stephen Gaubert is here to give advice and direction when you need it most, and when these matters can’t be settled through insurance, we’ll fight for you in court. Avoid these case-crushing mistakes by obtaining legal representation immediately following a car accident!