Car Accident Injury Lawyer John Ye, Reveals 15 Common Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Case.
Knowing what to do after a car accident isn’t intuitive. There are the basics, like calling emergency services for assistance, that most people are aware of, but there are also a lot of mistakes that are easy to make. Those who have never experienced a car accident before are likely to make mistakes in how they handle the incident. Unfortunately, those mistakes can end up costing them. Some of the mistakes to avoid include the following.
Running From the Accident
Never take off from an accident. This seems obvious, but sometimes people panic and will end up driving or running away from the accident, especially if they caused the accident. Unfortunately, even if the driver didn’t cause the accident, they’ll likely be found at fault because they ran. On top of this, they face a misdemeanor or felony charge for leaving the scene of an accident.
With all of the cameras and other evidence available today, the driver will be caught in an increased chance. When they are, if there was only property damage, they face a misdemeanor charge. If there were injuries in the accident, they would face a felony charge which can lead to a maximum of $10,000 in fines and one to four years in jail.
Failing to Get Details for Others Involved
In a minor accident, it’s easy to brush off the accident and head out, especially if it seems like any damages or injuries are minor. Unfortunately, it’s possible for there to be hidden damages to the vehicles or serious injuries that don’t appear until a few days after the accident. At this point, if the driver doesn’t have the details for others involved in the accident, it’s going to be far more difficult to file a claim and obtain compensation. Always get the name, address, phone number, and insurance information of anyone else involved in an accident.
Failure to Leave a Note for Unoccupied Vehicle Accidents
If the accident involves an unoccupied vehicle, take the time to leave a note if the vehicle owner is not with it. The law requires drivers who hit an unoccupied vehicle to either speak with the vehicle owner and provide contact details or leave a note in an obvious spot with the name, address, and contact details. On top of this, it’s required to report the accident to the police department or the highway patrol department. Opt for the police department in incorporated areas and the highway patrol for unincorporated areas.
Admission of Mistakes or Guilt
An admission of guilt can be used against the driver. If someone apologizes for the accident, it is often looked at like they’re at fault. Avoid saying anything that could be construed as an admission of any mistake or of being at fault for the accident. There may have been another reason for the accident, but if the driver has already admitted guilt, even inadvertently, they will likely be found liable. This means they will be required to cover the compensation for any other persons involved in the accident or any property that was damaged. Though the driver’s insurance will cover this, they could be liable for anything insurance doesn’t cover and have their rates increased by the insurance company
Saying You’re Fine After the Accident
Many people who can walk away from the accident make the mistake of saying they’re okay. It’s never a good idea to say you’re okay after an accident. There’s no need to make up injuries, but avoid saying there aren’t any. Often, adrenaline is high immediately after an accident, and this can mask the pain. It’s possible to have hidden injuries that may not show up for a day or two after the accident. If the person has already said they’re okay, the insurance companies may be suspicious of any injuries that appear later. Instead, avoid saying anything and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Failing to Get Prompt Medical Attention
After an accident, even if it seems minor, it’s important to get medical attention right away. A doctor can check for any hidden injuries and start treatment immediately if anything is found. Waiting to get medical attention will often look suspicious to the insurance companies, as it’s possible the person was injured elsewhere after the accident and is trying to get it covered by the insurance company to avoid having to pay medical bills on their own. Though this is fraud, it does happen, so insurance companies do have to be wary. It’s better to start receiving medical care within a day or two, so there aren’t any questions as to how the injuries occurred.
Failing to Get Witness Information
The immediate aftermath of the accident can be confusing, but it is important to take the time to gather the information that can be used as evidence if needed. After the accident, those who can do so will want to get the personal information for any witnesses at the scene. This should at least include their name and phone number. Later, if the insurance company is trying to avoid a settlement or paying out at all due to believing the driver was at fault, the witness statements can be used to show what happened. Without these, it may be difficult to prove fault.
Failing to Get Photos of the Accident
Those who can walk away from the accident and do not need to leave in an ambulance should take photos of the accident. Always take as many photos as possible, especially before any vehicles are moved from the road. It’s better to have too many photos than not enough. Photos can help show the weather at the time of the accident, the condition of the roads, the amount of traffic in the area, any skid marks that show whether or not someone tried to stop to avoid the accident, and a lot more. Even the smallest details can make a huge difference later on if the photos are available and used as evidence.
Failure to Write Down What Happened
After everything has calmed down a little bit, medical attention has been sought, and everything at the scene of the accident is handled, take the time to write down what happened. Even if there is video footage from a dashcam and photos of the accident, write down exactly what happened to keep a log of it. As time passes, it’s possible to forget small details that could be important, and that could make a difference in the outcome of the case. This happens to everyone, especially if they tell the same story over and over again. Writing it down means there will be an accurate rendition of what happened and can be used as evidence later on if needed. Write down as many details as possible about the accident to ensure nothing is forgotten.
Not Reporting the Accident to the DMV
Within ten days from the accident occurring, drivers must file a record of the accident with the department of motor vehicles. It is crucial to make sure this is done on time, so it is a good idea for drivers to do this on their own. However, it is possible for the driver’s lawyer or insurance company to file the report for them. Reports are needed if there are any injuries, if someone dies as a result of the accident, or if there is more than $1,000 worth of property damage. There is a form available to quickly and easily fill out and submit, making this step in the process as easy as possible.
Not Tracking Bills and Expenses
Keep track of all expenses related to the accident, especially medical bills. Create a file for all bills or receipts, so they are together and easy to find when they’re needed. To obtain compensation for injuries, drivers or passengers will need to show how much money was paid to medical facilities, vehicle repair shops, and more. If there are no receipts, it’s difficult to prove how much compensation the person should receive, which could lead to reduced compensation. This can happen if the person isn’t sure how much they need to request in a settlement or if the insurance company refuses to compensate the person for expenses because there is no proof of the expense.
Not Checking Before Accepting a Settlement
Settlement offers will include a clause stating that, if accepted, the offer is final. This means there is no opportunity to obtain further compensation after the settlement is accepted. This is fine, so long as the settlement is sufficient to cover all expenses from the accident. Anyone in an accident must take a look at what the settlement offer includes before accepting it, as insurance companies will try to offer the lowest amount possible. Avoid signing any paperwork relating to the settlement, cashing a check from the insurance company, or doing anything else that could be seen as accepting the settlement before making sure it will be enough to cover accident-related expenses.
Discussing the Accident With Anyone
It is important for those who have been in an accident to avoid discussing it with anyone. When talking to the other people involved, it’s all too easy to say something that can be construed as an admission of guilt. Talking to the other driver’s insurance company could mean the driver accidentally says something that could make them seem guilty, especially if it’s taken out of context. Avoid posting on social media, as this can be used as evidence going forward and could be taken to mean an admission of guilt, depending on what is posted. It’s always better to avoid saying anything and, if needed, to speak with a lawyer and let them handle any discussions with the other driver or the insurance company.
Taking Too Long to File the Claim
There is a statute of limitations for how long someone has to file a claim after a car accident. If there are injuries as a result of the accident, those involved have two years to file a compensation claim. If there were no injuries, just damages to the vehicle, there are three years to file a claim. There are very few instances where it is possible to file the claim after the statute of limitations, such as being unable to find the other driver in the accident or the other driver being in jail following the accident. A lawyer is needed if the case is filed after the statute of limitations, as it can be difficult to get approval for an exemption. It is always better to file as early as possible and start the process to avoid running out of time.
Failing to Hire a Lawyer for Help
One of the biggest mistakes people make after a car accident is failing to hire a lawyer for help. With the potential for so many mistakes to be made, anyone in a car accident needs to have a lawyer on their side, helping them through each step to get the right amount of compensation. By having a lawyer, it’s easier to avoid mistakes, it’s easier to provide evidence of liability from the accident, and it’s easier to make sure the settlement offer received is sufficient to cover all accident-related expenses, including the cost of hiring a lawyer. By having a lawyer, individuals can make sure they aren’t taken advantage of, especially if they’re in the process of dealing with the accident while recovering from major or serious injuries.
It can be hard to know what to do or what to avoid doing after an accident. All of the mistakes listed here can have a huge impact on the outcome of the case and whether or not the person can obtain compensation for any injuries or damages. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, take the time to schedule a consultation with a lawyer today. Learn more about your case and get the help needed to avoid these and other potential mistakes.