How To Protect Yourself in the Event of an Accident
The odds of being in a car accident are relatively low. The average driver in America is involved in an auto accident once every ~18 years. Unfortunately, this also means that most people simply don’t know what to do (or not do) after an accident—beyond calling their insurance company and filing a claim. To combat this, we’ve compiled a short list of what we feel are the five biggest mistakes people tend to make after an accident.
1. Failing to Seek Medical Attention
If you suffered any kind of injury (even if seemingly minor), it is absolutely vital that you seek medical attention immediately. Many victims attempt to tough it out after an accident, only to later be surprised when the insurance company categorically denies the injury portion of their car accident claim.
Your first priority should be your health and wellbeing. Don’t worry about your co-pays or the cost of an ambulance ride, as your attorney will include all of these expenses in your claim. If you don’t have health insurance and/or simply cannot afford a visit to the doctor, our law firm works with doctors and medical professionals in your area who will agree to treat you at no out-of-pocket cost under what’s called a letter of protection.
2. Admitting Fault
To be honest, there’s simply no benefit to anyone by discussing fault at the scene of an accident. Liability may seem clear and obvious on the surface, but many car accident cases are incredibly complex. Was the other driver on the job at the time of the crash? Were they driving on a valid license? Were they texting at the time? Would the accident have been avoidable if they were driving more defensively? All of these factors (and more) will likely have a big impact on determining both liability and proportional responsibility.
3. Giving the Insurance Company a Recorded Statement
Recorded statements are not done for your benefit, and you’re not required to give one. If you’re asked by the insurance adjuster to give a recorded statement, politely decline, and consider reaching out to a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation immediately (as this likely means there’s some sort of dispute between both drivers’ stories).
In some cases (i.e., when your attorney gives the okay), giving a recorded statement is totally fine. But it’s important to stick to the facts. Don’t give long answers, don’t offer opinions, and listen to your attorney’s advice.
4. Entertaining Any Settlement Offers Early On
While negotiating a settlement amount seems like the logical next step after filing a claim, doing so before you have a full understanding of your total damages can be extremely detrimental to the value of your case.
Imagine the insurance company doesn’t put up a fight, accepts liability, and makes you an initial lowball offer of $5,000. You’re insulted so you counter at $10,000 because that’s how negotiation works, right? Well, let’s say your medical bills later turn out to be well over $10k alone—not even accounting for your lost wages, pain, suffering, etc. The insurance company won’t even offer you the $10k you initially demanded, and even if you take them to court, they have you on record agreeing to a maximum of $10,000.
5. Not Calling a Lawyer Immediately
We’ve all handled minor car accident claims before without the need for an attorney, so why do car accident lawyers even exist? Well, if your accident only involved property damage, you likely don’t need a lawyer. If you have an accompanying injury claim, however, the claims process is a completely different animal.
When it comes to the personal injury portion of any claim, insurance companies are absolutely ruthless. They’ll lie to you, they’ll frustrate you, they’ll downplay your injuries, and they’ll take advantage of you while you’re in this vulnerable position. Don’t take them at their word, and don’t allow them to dictate the claims process. Even if you have no intention of hiring an attorney, it’s always in your best interest to discuss your case (and your potential options) with an attorney as soon as possible.