Car accidents are extremely common. According to some estimates, people will file a car accident claim once every 17 years or so, and those claims don’t account for the collisions that went unreported. While many drivers have been involved in at least one car accident, they are never fully prepared to experience the next one. Accidents can be jarring, shocking, and disorienting, and people might make mistakes following a collision just based on confusion or misinformation. Here are a few of the most common mistakes people make after being involved in an auto accident.
Mistake #1: Saying Sorry
While many people have been trained to be polite by their parents, saying sorry after an accident can be a poor decision. You might be sorry the crash happened or sorry for the fact that both of you now have to take a chunk out of your day to deal with the repercussion. You may even be 100% not at fault for the accident at all. However, by apologizing after the accident, you could be mistaken for admitting guilt. Any bystander who come to assist you and the other driver could just hear you apologizing without knowing your meaning or the context. If a police officer later interviews the witness, he or she could report you were apologizing after the crash so it must have been your fault.
Mistake #2: Not Calling the Police After
Not many people want to involve law enforcement after an auto collision. They might do this out of respect for the police department or out of a desire to save time. However, a police report is an objective record of what took place after an accident. Law enforcement will interview you, any other drivers, and surrounding witnesses as to what happened. Any car insurance companies involved will rely on the police report to determine fault in the accident, which could affect how much compensation you later get. Having a police report is a highly useful tool if you then need to sue for damages.
Mistake #3: Not Exchanging Information
Even in a minor collision, you shouldn’t fail to exchange insurance info. Regardless of how minor the damage is, you might not know what could develop later. Some symptoms of whiplash, for example, might not develop for a few hours or even a few days. Get the name, address, license number, phone number, insurance information, license plate number, and the make and model of the other driver’s vehicle. You will need this information if you later need to file a claim with the other person’s insurance company.
Mistake #4: Not Taking Pictures
Unless you are too severely injured after an accident to move, you should get out of your car to start taking pictures of everything you possibly can. Take pictures of every car involved, damages to any property, injuries sustained, the surrounding area, the other driver, and any traffic signs in the area. These pictures can be used as documentation to support your claim. For example, if you file a claim for a damaged bumper, you can send a picture of your bumper to your insurance company as proof the damage actually occurred.
Mistake #5: Not Contacting the Insurance Company
Many insurance companies require you to contact them as soon as you can after an accident. If you fail to do so, you might not recover property damages. Likewise, if you sustain injuries in the crash, you might not be compensated for your medical costs if you failed to contact your insurance company. If you do communicate with the company, seek legal advice before giving the company any written or recorded statements about the accident.
Mistake #6: Not Going to the Doctor Immediately
Even in a minor collision, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only is it dangerous to forgo this step, but if you later develop symptoms, an insurance company is less likely to compensate you for your medical care if you delayed going to the doctor. If you sustained internal bleeding during the accident, you might not be able to tell. Visit a medical professional who can conduct proper tests to ensure you are healthy following an accident. You can use your visit as proof of your injury if you later do need to file a claim.
Mistake #7: Trusting an Insurance Company
Not all insurance companies do what is in their policyholders’ best interests. They make a profit by collecting premiums, and they lose money by compensating people for injuries, property damage, and lost wages. While insurance companies are bound to act in good faith, they don’t always do so. If they can legally refuse your claim, they will. Never assume an insurance company will do what’s right for you.
Mistake #8: Not Understanding Your Rights
People are often unaware of the types of expenses and damages for which they can be compensated after a car accident. Compensation could be gained for medical bills, property loss, pain and suffering, and lost wages. It’s important to understand the laws regarding when you can sue or be sued, and whether the other party did something or failed to do something that led to your injury or property damage.
Mistake #9: Not Contacting an Attorney
If you or a passenger was injured in a car accident, a skilled Reno car accident attorney could help. Many personal injury lawyers offer free consultations so they can inform you of how strong your case might be. They can also assist you if your initial claim was denied by an insurance company.
Mistake #10: Waiting Too Long to File a Claim
Most states have statutes of limitations for personal injury claims. A statute of limitations is a time limit set on lawsuits, meaning anyone who tries to file past the deadline is unlikely to persuade the court to hear his or her case. In Nevada, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury suit is 2 years, and it’s 3 years for property damage. As soon as you know you need compensation, see a personal injury attorney about your case.
Contact one of our skilled advocates at Fahrendorf, Viloria, Oliphant & Oster L.L.P. if you would like to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. Our team can help you seek compensation for any medical bills, property damage, and lost wages resulting from the negligence of another person or group. Let us use our 100 years of combined experience to fight on your behalf, in negotiations or in court.
Call us at (775) 284-8888 or fill out our online form for a case consultation today.