Suffering a car accident that wasn't your fault can complicate your life quickly. In the aftermath, you're suddenly dealing with injuries, the potential loss of your car and other damages, such as the time you're going to miss from work. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you have a full post-accident plate, especially if you fail to contact an auto accident attorney for help immediately.
How you respond and what you do immediately after an accident can have an impact on your recovery of compensation for your damages. Unfortunately, many genuine car accident victims find themselves receiving less -- or no -- compensation for legitimate injuries because of easily avoidable mistakes. Here are a few missteps to avoid:
Not getting a police report
This is probably one of the most common mistakes auto accident victims make. Everyone involved in your claim will heavily rely on a police report. If you don't have one, it can seriously undermine your case. Call 911 and ask for an officer to come take a report. You may have to wait, but it's crucial you do so. The observations made by the officers and the statements from any witnesses to your accident will be valuable evidence in your case.
Not getting medical attention
Get yourself checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. Although you may feel fine, there are injuries that don't make themselves known right away. This is especially true of soft tissue injuries to the back and neck. You may go to bed the night of the accident feeling fine and wake up in real pain. If you wait to seek medical attention, the insurer involved can use this delay to claim that your injuries are less serious than you allege, and you may also delay your own recovery or introduce complications. This is not to say that you should go to an emergency room unless it is actually necessary. Emergency room trips are extremely expensive and, while promptly seeking medical attention is important, emergency medical resources need not be taxed unless it is a true emergency.
You should also tell your doctor everything you are feeling, no matter how minor the symptoms may seem at the time. Doctors need to note every detail so you have a record of what your symptoms and injuries are.
Once your doctor has diagnosed you and given you a treatment plan, follow it to the letter. If you don't, the insurer can use your failure to lessen your compensation for your injuries. In addition, any complications that arise may be blamed on you for not doing what the doctor told you to do.
Another method you can use to document your injuries is a pain journal. Make an entry every day or week. Record how you feel and be specific with regard to your injuries.
Not contacting an auto accident attorney
Usually, it's free to have an initial consultation with an attorney, and you will want their opinion of your case. The only thing you stand to lose is the time spent in the attorney's office, so it's definitely worth it to speak to an attorney right away (check out our guide on how to choose the right attorney for your case). Also, don't forget that CaseYak can help you formulate an idea as to the value of your claim before speaking to an attorney. Bringing in professional legal help early on in your case can also prevent you from making a costly mistake.
Not being careful when talking to the insurer
The friendly insurance adjuster on the line is not your ally. Their job is to make sure the insurer pays as little as possible towards your claim. They are trained to get information from you in a way that helps them meet this goal. Do not give any formal and/or recorded statement to an insurer without an attorney present. They may try to get you to admit fault -- even if you weren't at fault at all -- and prompt you to say things that damage your claim so they can use your own words against you later.
In an ideal world, accident victims would immediately get fair compensation for what happened to them. Unfortunately, this is not often the case, so speak to an experienced auto accident attorney to make sure you get the help you deserve.
Please be advised that this is provided for general information purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the provision of this information. The best resource for information about your case is consulting an attorney.