Do a quick search and you’ll find tons of articles on what to do after an auto accident. Stay calm, take photos, call the police, etc. Just as important to know is what you shouldn’t do after a car accident, though.
There are 6 million car accidents a year and 3 million injuries as a result. If you’re injured in one of these accidents, you may experience missed work, lost wages, injuries resulting in medical expenses, and even long-term disability that limits your ability to work.
If you are injured in an auto accident, you may need to consider hiring a lawyer to get the compensation that you are entitled to. To help your case, there are some things that you should avoid doing after an accident. Here are our top 5.
1. Don’t Leave the Scene
Whatever you do, don’t leave the scene of the accident. Even if the other driver or drivers leave, or you think that you’re not injured, or there is no apparent property damage, you need to stay at the scene.
If you leave the scene of an accident, you could be charged with a crime. You are also hurting your case if you do have injuries, as the insurance company may view this as you admitting that you were doing something wrong and use this against you to deny your claim.
2. Don’t Refuse Medical Treatment
Many car accident injuries aren’t apparent immediately after the accident. Some won’t make their presence known until several hours or even several days later, especially things like whiplash, internal injuries, head injuries, or neck and back pain.
Adrenaline often masks the pain from these injuries and when the adrenaline from the accident wears off, you might find that you are in a lot of pain. If you don’t want to receive treatment from paramedics who are called to the scene of the accident, you should at least seek treatment on your own the same day or the next day.
Most primary care physicians won’t treat auto accident injuries for insurance reasons, so you may need to go to an emergency room or urgent care.
3. Don’t Admit Fault
If you admit fault at the scene of the accident or in a recorded statement that you make later (such as to the insurance adjuster), you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. Some states won’t let you file a claim if you are even 1% responsible for the accident.
The best course of action is to say as little as possible after an accident. Don’t apologize to the other driver or drivers (even if you think you are at fault). Stick to sharing information and leave investigating the accident and determining fault to law enforcement, the insurance company, and the attorney that you hire to represent you.
4. Don’t Talk to an Adjuster Until You Speak With an Attorney
Related to not admitting fault, you should avoid talking to the insurance adjuster from the other driver’s company. You do not have to talk to them, and you should not, especially not before you hire an attorney.
The insurance adjuster wants you to settle for as little as possible and do it quickly. They may try to offer you a quick settlement in the days following the accident, but this amount is likely much less than what your injuries are actually worth.
Don’t speak to them and don’t sign anything until you seek legal counsel.
5. Don’t Forget to Take Pictures
If you are able, you should try to take pictures of the damage to your car, any property damage, and damage to the other vehicles. Take photos of the entire scene of the accident as well. This helps puts the accident in context and allows your lawyer to see any factors that could have contributed to the accident, such as weather, damaged roads, or incorrect or missing signage.
Take note of the exact time, date, and other important information as well so you can pass it along to your attorney. If there are witnesses, get their names and contact information.
6. Don’t Lose Your Cool
Car accidents are stressful and when someone else does something to cause the accident, it is easy to lose your cool when speaking with them. Having a verbal altercation with the other driver won’t do anything to help the situation.
Instead, avoid doing this and remain calm. Make sure anyone who needs medical attention gets it and stick around until police tell you that you may leave.
7. Don’t Do It Alone
You might not think that you need an auto accident attorney, but you would be wrong. Remember that the insurance company wants you to settle fast and for as little as possible. An attorney knows what your case is worth and can help determine the long-term costs of your injuries, lost wages, and compensation for any other damage resulting from the accident.
When you hire an auto accident law firm, you typically do not pay them unless you win. This means that they work on a contingency basis and you will not need to pay them upfront, but rather from the settlement that you receive.
Avoid These Mistakes After an Auto Accident
If you know what to do and what not to do after an accident, you’ll be in a good place to remain calm, handle the accident with experience, and know how to set yourself up for a successful case if the accident was not your fault.
If you are in need of an experienced auto accident attorney, contact us at Sweet Law today. Our attorneys specialize in personal injury cases, including auto accidents, and can provide a free case evaluation.