Accidents happen. When they do, you need more than your auto insurance carrier to protect your rights. You need a Phoenix auto accident lawyer with experience.
On July 27, 2021, the state of Arizona released a report that there were 98,778 motor vehicle crashes in the year 2020. Of these crashes, 28,610 had injuries, and 970 were fatal. 70% of these crashes had property damage only.
Too often, people involved in auto accidents make common mistakes because they do not understand the process or they do not understand their rights. In this article, we will reveal what those mistakes are and how to avoid them with the help of a car accident lawyer.
Protecting your rights with a little education starts now.
Not Calling the Police
There are a variety of reasons that you may not want to contact the police after an accident happens. It could be that you are in a hurry and do not want to take the time to stand around at the scene, explaining everything that occurred. It is easier to trade information and be on your way.
Maybe you don’t want to seem like a jerk or like the kind of person who enjoys causing issues for other people. The at-fault party might tell you they will pay their damages on their own.
No matter what the circumstances are, you are in an accident with a stranger. You cannot take their word for it if you do not know their history and character.
Plus, if you want to work with the insurance company directly, this can have adverse effects. They can undervalue your claim or deny it altogether.
If you are in an accident, call the police. It does not matter if there is minor damage or you feel you do not have an injury. The police report will document what happened in the accident, and you will need this for the insurance as a part of your car accident claim documents, especially if you are due a settlement.
Not Finding Witnesses Contact Information
If you are in the physical condition to do so, ask any witness at the scene if you can get their contact information. Having a third party that was not involved in the crash, but could see what happened, will help your case.
Saying Everything is “Okay”
Again, it is easy to want to be kind and understanding. You want to see the best in people and not make a fuss. Even if you are not in a lot of pain, maybe just a little, never tell the at-fault party or the police that everything is “okay.”
Take the time to process what is going on around you before you blurt out comments. If you feel disoriented, it is easy to do, but make sure you think before you speak.
If someone asks you if you need help or medical attention, take them up on it. You won’t know what the injuries you sustained are right away anyway, as adrenaline is rushing from the crash.
Plus, if you say you are “okay,” that can end up in the police report, and you do not want that in the file. Until you have processed the situation you are in, be careful when you speak.
Not Seeking Medical Attention
If you feel hurt because of a vehicle crash, go seek medical attention immediately. Going right away without delay will help your case. The medical records that document your visit will be critical for your case.
Not Following Medical Advice
Make sure that you take the advice of the medical professional who is caring for you. If you do not follow their advice, it will hurt your health, but it will also hurt how much you recover from collecting damages. Do not ignore the doctor’s advice.
Avoid “Independent” Doctors
Insurance companies can be tricksters, all to avoid paying you. They may suggest that their “independent” doctor examines you versus having you go to your own physician. The problem with “independent” doctors is that they can have biased opinions.
Insurance companies can choose a doctor with a history of performing such evaluations that will favor their case, not yours. When you go to your physician, they do not have an allegiance to an insurance company. Plus, they know your health history, so they will examine you more accurately.
If you have any long-lasting effects that result from your accident, your own physician’s examination will prove invaluable.
Not Taking Pictures
The police report will not be enough. You need to provide enough detail that proves your case without a reasonable doubt. In cases of personal injury, there must be a lot more detail than just the police report.
Take a lot of pictures at the scene of the accident, as many as you can. Include shots of the location of the vehicles and any damage to them. If there is an obstacle around the cars that played a factor or a visible injury, include this too when you take pictures.
Posting Information on Social Media
You want to take photos, but you do not want to share these photos on social media, nor do you want to comment on the collision. Any public statement you make is open to misinterpretation and hurts your case. Keep all photos and statements to yourself and your attorney.
Not Keeping Damaged Property
It may be difficult to wait to get your vehicle fixed, but until you settle the case, you need to. Even if the car is totaled, you will want to keep it. This is in case there are questions during the settlement process.
That way, an official can examine the damaged vehicle.
The insurance company will want to talk with you after the accident, and unfortunately, they may try to fool you. They want you to say something that will undermine your case.
You must never admit fault. Also, do not admit that you may have possibly contributed to it, either. Keep in mind that doing so can reduce the amount of your settlement.
Do not speak with the insurance company without the presence of your Phoenix auto accident lawyer. Never agree to give a recorded statement. Insurance companies will only use a recording to scrutinize it, finding any way they can reduce liability.
Agreeing to a “Quick” Settlement
If you have been through an accident and you are suffering from major injuries, you may want to get your case over with quickly, collect a payment, and put it past you. You have bills to pay, and the entire ordeal is very stressful. When you receive a settlement offer from the insurance company, it will be enticing to settle quickly.
Often, the problem is that the insurance company is only lowballing you. Once you accept the offer, it can be nearly impossible to collect the full amount that you are entitled to.
Work with a Phoenix auto accident lawyer to get the maximum settlement, including:
- Medical bills
- Time lost from work
- Emotional suffering
- All other money that you lost
It is understandable that an accident can put you in distress and that you may not think clearly. You need to keep enough of your composure just to make sure that you are not being taken advantage of and losing money on your settlement.
Do Not Take the First Offer
Insurance companies are a business and want to maximize their profits. Even if the first offer seems like a good one, do not accept it. The first offer is pretty much almost always lower than they are willing to pay and what you deserve in terms of compensation.
Think about the future, too. Will you still need medical treatment? Does the offer cover all future medical expenses?
If a check arrives in the mail and you did not agree to the amount, do not sign and cash it. Also, if you sign a settlement release, just like cashing the check, it can prevent you from seeking any future damages.
When the amount that they are offering you does not cover all your bills, then the offer they are making is not good enough. A good car accident lawyer negotiating on your behalf to make sure that it does not happen.
Waiting Too Long for Suit
The statute of limitations is legal terminology, meaning that there is a limit on how long you can wait when filing a lawsuit. You should want to file as soon as you can and not wait, but regardless, there is a time limit.
If you have a witness, the longer you wait for a trial, the less reliable that person may be. Key evidence can become lost, or it may deteriorate. You don’t have to sue right away, but do not wait too long.
Arizona is a Two-Year Statute of Limitations
This means that from the date the accident happened and to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at fault, you have two years. Waiting longer than two years will typically prevent you from suing. It will bar you from collecting compensation, too, even if you are not the party at fault.
Altering the Statute of Limitations
Arizona’s statute of limitations can change, with some exceptions. One such exception would be “tolling” or delaying the date that the deadline begins.
This could be if a victim did not find their injuries until after the accident. Here, the date would begin at the time of discovery of the injuries (or “reasonably” known about them).
The Victim is a Minor
Another exception can be if the victim is a minor in age when the accident happened. In such a circumstance, the limitation can be “tolled.” It will resume on the day that the victim reaches the age of eighteen.
How to Comply With Insurance Claims
Beyond the statute of limitation, there are other time limits you must comply with, like the claim filing deadline. The state of Arizona has mandatory minimum insurance requirements for its drivers to maintain, which include:
- $15,000 bodily injury liability for one person
- $30,000 bodily injury liability for two or more individuals
- $10,000 property damage liability
Arizona also has a fault-based system for the claim filing process. The victim has a few options for collecting compensation following a collision.
First, the victim has the option to file a claim with their own auto insurer and recover damages from them.
Second, the collision victim can reach out to the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. They can file the claim directly with them for the damage they suffered because of the crash.
If options one and two fail, the victim can sue. They can sue the at-fault driver personally or the insurance company for compensation.
The best thing to do is file a claim as soon as you can so you can avoid missing the claim filing deadline. It will help you, too, to keep within the statute of limitations, should you need to take it down the path of a lawsuit later.
Phoenix Auto Accident Lawyer
We know that a car accident is both shocking and scary. The lasting effects can devastate you, from medical bills to the cost of repairing your property. Worse yet, you may have to miss work, which means lost wages.
Insurance companies can try to be helpful, but really, they are looking out for their bottom line. What you need is a Phoenix auto accident lawyer with experience to negotiate on your behalf. You do not need to go it alone with the insurance.
Sweet Lawyers can help you. You can call or email us anytime. Even chat with us online right now!