Knowing what to do after being involved in an accident is very important. The surreal moments following an accident usually leave most people overwhelmed, confused, or in severe pain. These moments interfere with the decision-making process and the resulting actions of those involved. In such scenarios, remembering what would be an absolute no-no would be of great benefit.
What you do after an accident has the potential to determine the outcome of your injury claim right from the very beginning, or it may least significantly impact it. Some of the mistakes to avoid after a personal injury accident of any kind include:
1. Driving Away from the Scene
Fleeing the scene after getting into an auto accident may aggravate issues by making you seem like a suspect and giving injuries time to get much worse. Failure to stop could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. The appropriate response in such situations is to stop, assess the situation, dial 911 and inform them calmly of the situation without revealing unnecessary details or making implicating assertions. You should not make official statements without your lawyer present, even if you do not feel any harm has occurred.
2. Forgetting to Gather Information and Evidence
It would help if you did not forget to document your accident and its aftermath. If you cannot do so yourself, ask someone who can do so for you. Remembering to document will aid in securing adequate settlement or compensation for the injuries to the person and property suffered, whether from the court or the insurance adjusters. Collecting information can prove to be valuable in instituting an action, proving the verity of the same in evidence, and calculating a good value for settlement. You should remember to collect-
- Contact details, driver’s license number, vehicle registration number, name of the auto insurance company, and number of motorists involved
- Photos and video evidence of license plates, vehicle damage, and any injuries
- Journals and medical evaluation reports
Many accidents cause people to be disoriented, but the information listed is essential. The information exchanged with the other motorists involved is vital to file an auto accident insurance claim with your insurance adjuster and seek compensation from the auto insurance company of the at-fault driver. This information can help with any accident and is helpful to your lawyer in applying for general and special damages. They can also prove immense value to the courts in calculating the compensation due. If there are any witnesses to the accident, exchanging information with them will be helpful later on as there would be more voices attesting to your version of the story.
It is important to put the immediate health and safety concerns before collecting information to prevent further endangering yourself and others.
While law enforcement will arrive on the scene to take information, documentation, and evidence of their own, it can also be helpful to have your documentation. Note the date, time, and location of the accident and details regarding its seriousness and how it occurred.
3. Admitting Fault or Apologizing Without Knowing all the Facts
Many people who get into an accident apologize and accept some percentage of fault for the crash.
While honesty with the facts of how an accident occurred is always good, you should be careful of any empathetic or sympathetic admittance of fault, as such statements could quickly be taken out of context and used against you. Unfortunately, apologies also fall prey to this trap, which affects how much compensation you eventually receive.
Before making any statement of fault, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can evaluate the facts and guide you in preparing your statement based on the details of your accident.
4. Speaking to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Without a Lawyer
The police might be your friends, but the insurance companies are not, especially when compensation is involved. Therefore, it would be good to recognize that their statements are in their best interest and not yours, which is why you should contact an excellent personal injury attorney before making any statements. A personal injury attorney with experience in car accident cases can help you present your claim before one or multiple insurance companies. Consulting a lawyer is the best way to protect your rights and avoid having to dispute a denied or undervalued claim.
5. Skipping Medical Care
People have walked away from accident sites with severe internal injuries believing they were okay because they did not have any physical marks. Even if you think you are not injured, it is imperative to seek medical attention; it is also perilous if you do not. Skipping medical assessment can be dangerous to your health and your injury case. If you plead injuries that you have initially claimed not to have sustained later, it is a more complicated process. Injuries can appear later or may not show symptoms immediately, so visit a doctor as soon as possible and follow their instructions.
During doctor’s appointments, try to avoid minimizing or exaggerating your symptoms when speaking with your doctor. Instead, you should be straightforward and candid about your complaints and injuries.
In addition, your insurance adjuster may require that you seek medical treatment within a certain amount of time after an accident to have your expenses eligible for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
6. Sharing Details About your Case on Social Media
Discussing your accident or legal case with anyone but your doctor without an attorney present could be detrimental to your lawsuit. You are strongly advised not to share details of your injury claim on social media. Anything you transmit or publish can be used against you later on. Insurance adjusters, for instance, regularly use social media to spy on claimants. They specifically look for updates and photographs which contradict or disprove your claims. They may contact you and ask for a recorded statement. You should not speak with them without your personal injury attorney present. You can also have your attorney contact them directly.
7. Failing to get a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney
One of the biggest mistakes a person can make after getting into an accident that has caused injury to yourself or others is not to contact a personal injury lawyer.
A personal injury attorney with good experience can not only provide you with legal guidance on how to go about your particular case but can also;
- Communicate with the other driver’s insurance company.
- Determine whether you have a case in which to file a lawsuit for personal injury.
- Help collect necessary evidence for your claim before the courts and insurance adjusters.
- Fight for a reasonable accident settlement.
- Consult legal and auto experts (when necessary) on your behalf.
8. Failing to Report the Accident to Your Own Insurance Company
While all insurance companies have themselves as their primary interest, your own auto insurance company is more in your interest than that of the other drivers. Your auto insurance company is one of the first numbers to call after an accident because you cannot receive your insurance coverage without reporting and filing an accident claim with them early enough after the accident. Failing to do so may give your insurance company legal grounds to deny your claim, depending on the coverage details listed in your policy.
Knowing this, this also applies to your insurance company. You should be honest about events but keep details general until you have consulted with an excellent personal injury lawyer. Be careful to avoid outright admittance or impression of fault on your part.
9. Waiting too Long to Act
Florida has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, and the Florida Statute 95.11(3)(a) requires a plaintiff to bring a personal injury claim within four years counting from the date on which the accident occurred. Consequently, where there is an undue delay in getting your claim, you risk losing the chance of bringing your injury.
10. Agreeing to a Quick Settlement
With all the shock and confusion following an accident, it can seem quite tempting to take a settlement offer that may seem favorable rather than facing the hassle of the legal process, especially when you feel you are partly to blame for the accident. However, when you accept an offer for a quick settlement, you rightly relinquish any right to reopen your case or recover any further compensation. Unfortunately, this is the catch with such settlement offers.
It is always best to consult a personal injury attorney before agreeing to discuss or accept an offer of settlement.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been in an auto accident or slip & fall accident, you should not hesitate to contact our experienced personal injury attorney at the Coleman Law Group.
2901 1st Avenue North Suite 303 Saint Petersburg FL 33713.