No one ever expects a car accident to happen. Crashes can be sudden and shocking for all those involved. Unfortunately, this shock can lead to victims making mistakes that could hurt their chances for a fair recovery later on. That is why everyone should be aware of the actions they should avoid following a car accident. Next time, it could be you behind the inflated airbag of a wrecked car, and, armed with this important information, you can avoid wrecking your case, too.
These Mistakes Are Understandable, But Potentially Harmful
Ideally, you would have a lawyer at your side immediately following an accident, but that’s not going to happen. Instead, you can be your own best advocate by avoiding the following common mistakes made by car accident victims:
- Failing to call the police. Even a minor accident can cause a serious injury and, even if no one appears to be hurt in a crash, the police should be called and everyone involved should stay until they arrive. Once they are on the scene, insist that they complete an accident report and make sure your side of the story is reflected in it.
- Not seeking medical assistance. Even if you don’t think you’re hurt, or you’re just experiencing minor aches and pains, see a doctor for a thorough exam. She may discover a serious injury, and the record of you having seen a doctor will support your injury claim later on.
- Not calling an attorney. Your first step after seeing a doctor should be to call an attorney. He or she will be able to guide you from this point on, but the longer you wait to call, the more likely you are to make mistakes.
- Giving a recorded statement to anyone other than your attorney. Insurance adjusters may ask you to make a statement regarding what happened in the accident. It is never a good idea to do this, even with your own insurance company. Your only responsibility is to report the accident to your insurance company and, no matter how friendly or helpful they sound, do not tell them anything else until you have spoken to an attorney.
- Accepting a quick settlement check. You may think this is the best way to just get everything over with and move on with your life, but you could be losing out on the chance to get a much larger settlement if you accept the first offer. Acceptance of this payout usually comes with a release that prevents you from ever seeking more money, even if your injuries turn out to be debilitating.
- Using an insurance company’s recommended repair shop. Insurance companies are always out to save a buck and will often refer you to a body shop they know will repair your car on the cheap. You are under no obligation to use their shop, and, if you do, you may find that you are cheated out of the full repair value. Get several estimates and go with a repair shop you trust.
- Not disclosing previous injuries or medical conditions. If your accident aggravates a previous injury, you will still be entitled to compensation for the injury, so there is no reason to cover up the pre-existing medical condition. Tell your doctor, your attorney, and the insurance company about it or you could be facing a complete denial of your claim.
- Not continuing medical treatment. Very often, car accident injuries require ongoing physical therapy or other care. If you stop going to appointments, the insurance company will assume that you have recovered from your injuries and could deduct money from your settlement. Complete your full course of treatment no matter what.
- Declining uninsured motorist coverage. This is something that happens well before an accident. If you do not currently have uninsured motorist coverage, get it now. If the driver of the car that hits you is uninsured, or carries a minimal policy, you will not be able to recover all the money you need to cover your medical bills. In these cases, your own uninsured motorist policy will pay your bills.
- Failing to seek a permanent impairment rating. If you have long-term pain and physical limitations following your car accident, talk to your doctor about a permanent impairment rating. This could greatly increase your compensation.
It’s Never Too Late
Even if you’ve already made most of these mistakes, it’s not too late to call the attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury to help you moving forward. While you may now have limitations on how much you can actually recover, all is not lost. Call now to schedule a free consultation.