The Most Common Car Accident Mistakes People Make
Road crashes are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people aged one to 54. A staggering 4.4 million people are seriously injured enough to need medical attention every year. Chances are, you may find yourself in a car accident, and if you do, ensure you don’t make these common car accident mistakes. Making these errors can cause an already stressful situation to become even more overwhelming.
Continue reading to learn which mistakes to avoid.
1. Leaving the Crash Site
Regardless of who is at fault, you should never leave the crash site, especially if there is serious property damage or a personal injury. If you leave before the police arrive and clear you to go, you won’t have enough information to seek compensation through a personal injury claim.
Additionally, if you are the person at fault and leave before the police arrive, they can charge you with a hit and run. The penalties for a hit and run can range from a few thousand dollars to upwards of $20,000 and jail time, depending on the nature of the accident.
Here are the circumstances when you can legally leave the scene of an accident:
- You need to seek emergency medical care.
- Your safety is threatened at the crash site (this includes the other driver threatening you).
- You need to leave to contact the police (this is rare these days since almost everyone has a cell phone).
If you absolutely need to leave the scene before the police arrive, call the police dispatch and inform them of your whereabouts, why you need to leave, and contact information.
2. Not Calling the Police
It’s best to always call the police to the scene of your auto accident, even for minor collisions. They will help you to collect valuable evidence for your personal injury case.
Of course, they won’t build your case for you. That’s the responsibility of your personal injury attorney. But the police can help you:
- Track down witnesses
- Take photos
- Assess the scene of the crash
The police report will be vital in your personal injury case since no one can duplicate or change what it says. But without it, your case becomes much harder to prove.
You may find that the at-fault driver wants to leave the police out of it. They could tell you several sob stories about how they will pay for the damage out-of-pocket or can’t have the points against them on their license.
Don’t believe what they say and contact the police. You should never accept handshake deals.
A police report will provide documentation stating what occurred in the accident. This can help protect you from the other driver creating an untrue scenario of what happened to try to get more compensation.
3. Admitting Guilt
After a car accident, you may feel like you want to resolve things as quickly as possible. One way of doing that is by apologizing for the crash and saying, “I’m sorry.”
Any car accident lawyer will tell you that you should not apologize for the accident because it’s an omission of guilt. During your case, the jury may hear what you said after the accident and place you as the at-fault party.
Avoid accepting responsibility in any way, but don’t lie. Lying can harm your credibility with the court. You should always provide accurate information to the police when asked. However, don’t over-share details on what occurred.
Sometimes, the liability is split or shared in a car accident. For example, you could be 30% liable while the other driver is 70%. Oversharing could lead you to have more liability than what you’re responsible for.
You can share all the accident facts with your personal injury lawyer.
4. Ignoring Your Medical Needs
After a minor crash, you may think you don’t need medical attention. But anytime you’re involved in an accident, you should visit the hospital or urgent care center for an evaluation.
You could have injuries but perhaps the pain was masked by adrenaline. Some common car accident injuries include back, neck, or head injuries. Injuries can present themselves days or even weeks after a crash. Doctors call this delayed onset.
Since these injuries could require significant treatment, you want the at-fault driver to be responsible for covering the costs.
Even if you do not have any substantial injuries, you’ll have documentation stating when the injuries occurred. This will be helpful during your personal injury case to prove the accident caused the injuries.
Further, don’t ignore any advice from your doctor. Follow all the instructions they provide. Failure to do so can limit your recovery. However, it can also prevent you from getting the compensation you deserve during your case.
5. Handling Your Personal Injury Claim Alone
Most people try to handle their personal injury claims independently because they assume the insurance company will be fair and they’ll get the compensation they deserve.
But unfortunately, insurance companies have an incentive not to pay you what you are rightfully owed. They’re also savvy in convincing you that you’re getting a significant settlement when you’re actually getting a small portion of what you deserve.
Moreover, the insurance companies may try to:
- Prove you were the at-fault driver
- Establish you didn’t sustain your injuries from the accident
- Convince you to accept a low offer
It’s imperative to have an attorney on your side who will fight for you and get you the maximum compensation possible from the insurance company. A personal injury lawyer has the skills and knowledge to overcome an insurance adjuster’s cunning tactics.
The sooner you get a lawyer involved in the case, the less likely you are to make any mistakes in the personal injury claims process, and the faster your lawsuit will be settled.
Don’t Make These Common Car Accident Mistakes
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and confused after a car accident. Yet, if you know these common car accident mistakes, you can better prepare yourself for what to do in the event of an accident.
To speak with a personal injury attorney, contact our office at Alpha Accident Lawyers. A team member will guide you throughout the entire claims process and help you get what you deserve.