Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
If you’ve never been in a car crash before, you might not know how the process works, and you could make mistakes that hurt your claim. Knowing some common mistakes made by accident victims could help you protect your claim and obtain the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
1. Failing to Call the Police to Report the Accident
After your car accident, you must contact the local police to report it. When law enforcement arrives, they will conduct their own investigation and create a report of the accident. This report is vital evidence and could help determine who was at fault.
Not only does contacting the police benefit your claim, but it helps you stay out of legal trouble. New Mexico law requires individuals involved in accidents that cause severe injury or death to report the car crash to local authorities.
2. Giving Too Much Information to the Insurance Company
You should always know that insurance companies are more concerned with making a profit than your overall well-being. To them, paying out on your claim always hurts their bottom line. So, the at-fault party’s insurer will do whatever it takes to avoid compensating you for your damages.
That said, you should expect a call from the at-fault party’s insurer in the days following your accident. The insurance company’s goal during this call is to get you to provide a statement. They may appear to be acting in good faith—claiming they simply want to get your side of the story.
However, they are really looking for you to give them information that could limit their liability. A big mistake many accident victims make is providing too much information to the insurance company.
You are under no obligation to provide them with a statement. It would be wise for you to direct them to your attorney so they can address any questions or concerns they might have.
3. Avoiding Medical Treatment or Skipping Doctor’s Appointments
After a car accident, you might feel a rush of adrenaline that masks any injuries you just endured. You might not think calling an ambulance or seeking a doctor’s evaluation is necessary. However, in the hours or days following your accident, the adrenaline wears off, and you could begin feeling the full extent of your injuries.
Although you could and should still seek medical treatment, the at-fault party’s insurer could claim that if your injuries are as severe as you claim, then you would have gone straight to the emergency room to get treated.
You should always get evaluated by a medical professional after you suffer from an event as traumatic as a car accident. Furthermore, you should avoid skipping any follow-up appointments. This could also signal to insurance companies that your injuries aren’t severe.
4. Unintentionally Making Statements that Admit Fault
Sometimes, fault is unclear, and you might feel like you contributed to the accident somehow. This might not always be the case. That’s why you should avoid speaking with the other driver about the details of the crash.
Your knee-jerk reaction might be to rush over to the other car and say, “I’m sorry,” or “I didn’t even see you.” These seemingly minor statements could actually be used against you. After your accident, call 911 and wait patiently until they arrive.
5. Signing the Insurance Company’s Release Form
In the aftermath of your car accident, the other driver’s insurance company might try to offer you a quick settlement that essentially gets them off the hook. Accepting the insurance company’s offer and signing the release form prevents you from pursuing further compensation or filing a personal injury claim.
However, many individuals sign these release forms because they don’t understand the extent of the compensation they can recover. Let’s say the insurance company only offers you $10,000 for your accident.
If you suffered significant injuries that require ongoing treatment, you might be surprised how quickly you could use up your settlement money. You should consider all the ways your injuries will impact your life. For example, suppose your current job is physically demanding, and your accident resulted in an amputation.
You might have to seek employment in an entirely different industry for less pay. You should also consider non-monetary damages like mental suffering and physical pain. Your attorney could evaluate your damages and fight for a settlement that covers all your expenses.
6. Posting About Your Accident On Social Media
Another mistake accident victims make after an accident is posting about their car crashes on social media. You might feel compelled to let your friends and family know what happened and that you’re okay.
However, similar to point number four, posting pictures of yourself with captions that say, “I’m okay” or “I feel fine” could be used against you. Insurance companies will use this as evidence to limit their liability, claiming that you’re not as hurt as you say you are.
7. Neglecting to Hire a Lawyer to File a Claim
You may feel like you can handle your accident alone and don’t need an attorney. However, the benefits of an attorney cannot be understated. They have resources at their disposal that help you recover the max for your injuries.
They will conduct their own investigation and gather the evidence you need to strengthen your claim. They can also recruit expert witnesses like accident reconstructionists who recreate the accident to determine fault. Furthermore, a personal injury attorney works on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t owe them anything unless they win your claim.
Injured in a Car Accident? Call the Law Giant
Insurance companies are relentless, and the claims process is complex. If you’re uninformed, you could make several mistakes that hurt your claim. A New Mexico car accident lawyer knows the common mistakes people make and could help inform you of your rights at every phase of the claims process.