Car accidents are common in today’s world, and if you’ve been in a car accident, you’ll need knowledge of what to do and also what not to do. There are many things you can do to speed up your car accident claim and help ensure you get the fair compensation you deserve from the liable party’s insurance provider. But there are also plenty of factors—and even scams—that can delay or derail your claim altogether. Personal injury law is complicated even for experienced personal injury lawyers and insurance agents, let alone the average person.
If you’ve been in a car accident (or motorcycle accident) with another person. You must understand your rights, what to avoid, pitfalls in the legal process, and when attorneys are recommended to negotiate with insurance, among other things. Therefore, we’re here to give you some insight into your potential personal injury case. In this article, we’ll take a look at some common mistakes people make when they get into vehicle collisions, so you’ll know what not to do if you’re injured in an accident. This way, you can abide by all the appropriate laws and ensure a proper settlement from the liable party’s insurance, so you and your car can resume your normal business.
Do not leave the scene.
You may be tempted to run from the scene of a car accident and avoid dealing with the police and insurance agents, but this can have serious consequences. If you are ever involved in a car accident, you must remain at the scene and exchange insurance information with other drivers. You should also remain on site until emergency services arrive if there are passengers in your vehicle who need medical attention. Similarly, if you are suffering from serious injuries that require immediate attention, do not leave without first calling for help.
This will not only protect you from being charged with leaving the scene of a car accident; it will also allow other drivers or pedestrians who might have witnessed portions of the crash to provide valuable eyewitness testimony during any future legal proceedings related to your personal injury case. Such important evidence can be vital in a case of distracted or aggressive driving by the defendant and may be needed later in court to prove fault in your lawsuit (to their insurance reps). Accidents can be messy and involve many parties; lawyers recommend collecting evidence to better prove fault. Claims will need compelling information to ensure the liable party’s car insurance pays for these damages.
Don’t forget to exchange information with other parties.
For potential car accident claims, you should also get the other drivers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information. It may be helpful to take a photo of their license plate number (as well as the make and model of their car), especially if they are being uncooperative. This will be vital evidence for your settlement when your lawyer speaks with their insurance.
You should also get an estimate of the damage to your car from your own insurance agent as soon as possible. They will need this information to process your personal injury claim quickly and effectively. This way, you (and your car) can receive the repairs needed to make a quick recovery.
Don’t admit fault to anyone.
Your first instinct may be to admit fault to anyone who asks. Don’t do it.
It’s better for you and will keep you from saying things that can be used against you. If someone asks, “Did you cause the accident?”, say, “I’m not sure.” Even if the other driver says “Yes!” don’t change your story until after consulting with your personal injury attorney and insurance representative.
You can admit fault later in court if necessary (if it gets to that point). You should always consult with a personal injury lawyer regarding car accident laws before making any admissions on behalf of yourself or your insurance—even if they’re off the record!
Don’t accept a settlement offer right away from the other party’s insurance.
Accepting the first offer you receive from an insurance company is not in your best interest. Many people feel pressured to accept an offer from car insurance companies so they can get on with their lives. This is understandable, but it’s essential for you to understand that accepting the first offer from your insurance company does not mean you will be paid the proper compensation you deserve. Typically, insurance companies want to settle each claim as quickly as possible because they don’t want to be responsible if the case goes to court and a judge rules against them, or they may just want some closure so they can move on with their lives as well. Insurance reps are people too, after all.
Insurance companies have protection in the form of attorneys who are trained at negotiating settlements and know how much money personal injury cases like yours are worth in terms of the time and money spent by each party involved throughout litigation (which could be years). You shouldn’t feel wronged if a personal injury attorney or insurance rep tells their client, “No.” Negotiations are a part of our legal system. An experienced lawyer understands this is simply part of business.
Further, during these insurance negotiations, your lawyer must present your case to insurance representatives (as well as a judge) in a way that compels them to settle. To accomplish this, information and evidence must show that the other party was liable for the damage to you, your vehicle, and your bank account due to rising car insurance rates, repair fees for your vehicle, medical expenses, etc.
Only after proving this will the insurance representatives be able to understand the monetary value associated with your injuries, damages to your vehicle, new parts, etc. Your settlement will need to properly reflect all of these, and an insurance agent is the one who can help you. However, you first need to effectively convince them that your pain and suffering are worth the amount you are asking.
Don’t make assumptions about your injuries.
It is common for people to assume the extent of their personal injuries and how long those injuries will last. For example, one person may wrongly assume that they do not need medical treatment when, in fact, they do. Another person may mistakenly think that their pain will go away after a few hours, days, or weeks, but it lasts much longer than they expect. And a third person may believe that because they have normal strength in one or two areas of their bodies (such as the back), they can resume all normal activities immediately following an accident—but this is often not true either. These examples have dire consequences, as all of these injuries should be immediately filed with your insurance. Insurance reps make sure to start your claim and record the initial injuries, so you can prove them later to the liable party’s insurance provider.
While there are general guidelines for determining how much someone should receive from insurance after an injury, these often don’t work well in real life because each personal injury case is different: what works for one person might not work for another; what works for one type of injury might not work for another type of injury; etc. The bottom line here is: don’t jump to conclusions about anything related to your insurance claim until after speaking with a personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with these types of cases. You will need to prove the severity and impact of your injuries, provide medical records that act as evidence of your suffering, and prove that the defendant’s negligence led to your injuries. Otherwise, you may not receive fair compensation from the insurance company for you, your vehicle, or your recovery.
Don’t refuse medical care.
You may think that you are fine, but the reality is that you may have an injury that isn’t immediately apparent. You need to see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident and let them evaluate your injuries before determining what other treatment is necessary.
For example, some injuries can only be diagnosed with X-rays or CT scans. And while it’s true that most of these types of tests aren’t particularly painful, they do have risks associated with them—and they’re worth taking if they might help prevent further complications down the road. If you accept care, you can have medical records as evidence to help prove the extent of your injuries.
Other medical issues arise when there’s a delay in treating an injury because you didn’t seek medical attention immediately after a crash. For example, if your back hurts and you ignore it until later, when the pain becomes unbearable, it could lead to long-term problems. These can also pop up later as medical expenses.
Finally—and perhaps most importantly—you need to see how long it will take for any injuries sustained during an accident to recover. This can often dictate the monetary value of a personal injury lawsuit, especially if the plaintiff loses money not only due to bodily harm and property damage but also due to incurred medical expenses, lost wages, and overall suffering. The amount of harm and overall suffering can often be difficult to prove in a lawsuit, but an experienced lawyer can help settle the matter in or out of court.
All of this information needs to be filed directly with your insurance provider and must be recorded in your claim. You can’t suddenly claim injury in the trial if said injuries were never properly documented. Even if the injuries are real and were caused by the accident, neither the court nor the other party’s insurance will recognize these injuries without proper documentation. This would result in your medical bills, vehicle costs, and insurance costs from the accident coming directly out of pocket.
Don’t wait to hire a lawyer until you’re ready to settle.
After a car accident, you don’t need to wait until you’re ready to settle before hiring a personal injury lawyer. Quite the contrary. You should hire an attorney as soon as possible after being injured in a car accident, even if you haven’t decided whether or not you want to pursue a lawsuit against the other driver (or their insurance company). Personal injury attorneys can help guide those decisions made by people in car crashes and make sure that they are made with a full understanding of all of your legal rights. They will help you understand the scope of your personal injury lawsuit and overall case, including your injuries, property damage (damage to your car), medical bills, and potential accident compensation against the insurance provider.
What’s more, having a car accident attorney on your side right away can help ensure that your personal injury claim gets off to a good start by taking care of all of the necessary paperwork and billing disputes at the onset. This will make it easier for both sides if and when it comes time for insurance settlement talks later down the road, which means there may be less room left over for hard feelings and bad blood regarding the accident instead of just getting down to business.
Finally, many unforeseen circumstances can arise in personal injury cases. New evidence may be collected, new offers may be presented, the other party’s insurance may wish to settle, and a myriad of other factors may come into play. Lawyers are necessary for the legal process to understand the laws that apply to all these developments and directly negotiate the accident case with the insurance providers. Your lawsuit may hinge on your lawyer’s ability to effectively collect and present new evidence. Vehicle collisions in particular have many developments: new witnesses, new footage (showing different angles of each car involved), newly reported injuries, and the potential for multiple parties to be at fault. With car accidents, this means multiple insurance providers paying out multiple settlements.
Don’t overestimate your ability to negotiate a personal injury claim; hire a lawyer.
One common mistake people make when injured in a car accident is attempting to negotiate their personal injury claims with the other party’s car or auto insurance. While this might be possible, it’s also possible that you’ll end up losing out on thousands of dollars and getting shortchanged by the insurance company. In turn, you’ll have to pay for your medical bills and damage to your car.
You should never overestimate your ability to handle a claim from start to finish yourself. Even if you have experience negotiating with auto insurance companies, there are many things involved in an automobile accident case for which you will need legal representation. This is where personal injury lawyers help:
- A personal injury lawyer can help represent you at mediation or settlement conferences.
- A personal injury lawyer will know how to prepare for trial and file motions requesting information from the other side that may support your accident case.
- Your lawyer will know what documents are important for proving damages (e.g., medical bills) so that these can be produced quickly without sacrificing accuracy or confidentiality.
- An experienced car accident attorney will know the laws that apply to accidents and overall lawsuits, and can properly negotiate with the insurance companies.
- An experienced car accident lawyer will provide your best chance at proving fault (if you were injured by another person) to the court or the other party’s insurance.
- Experienced car accident lawyers have seen many accidents, and have seen many play out in court. Your lawyer should have a wealth of knowledge in the case of car collisions.
Don’t try representing yourself in court.
As the victim of a car accident, you may have been told by personal injury lawyers not to speak with anyone (especially not the other party’s insurance) about what happened. The reason for this is that there are certain things you cannot talk about in court when representing yourself. For example:
- You need to know the law and how it applies to specific circumstances and facts in your case. You can’t just read up on one or two laws that apply, but instead must become familiar with many different aspects such as tort law (which covers personal injury cases), torts involving motor vehicles, contract law, fraud and misrepresentation claims, premises liability (liability imposed on someone who owns the property where someone else gets hurt), negligence claims related to accidents and other causes of action related to an auto accident injuries claim such as emotional distress damages resulting from physical injuries sustained during a car accident caused by another person’s negligence or intentional act.
- You need to be familiar with how evidence should be presented in court so that it can be properly considered by the judge or jury at trial if necessary (for example photographs taken after impact showing the damage done in the car accident).
- Experienced car accident lawyers will understand these legal processes so you can prove harm, and injury, and bring a compelling case to your lawsuit. Most car injury cases (especially those that reach court) need an experienced lawyer who can best prove that their client (the plaintiff) suffered harm due to the negligence of another person (the defendant). Trial lawyers can effectively present a case clearly and concisely, also in a way that the court recognizes. This is necessary to convince their insurance to offer proper compensation for your damages (to you, your car, auto insurance costs, etc.)
Don’t forget to consider an increase to your auto insurance rates. Is there a credit for these costs in your claim?
After an accident, it’s important to factor this into your claim. Not only will your average annual rate increase, but you may be required to pay other hidden costs for your car. Auto insurance rates can be even higher in California, so it’s important to be prepared. Don’t let your car insurance costs pile onto your list of damages, as these insurance costs can be recouped in your claim.
Fortunately, many companies offer car insurance discounts for people in the same position. You can review the various auto insurance discounts online or check out one of the many car insurance cost calculators for a free quote. We’d recommend a deeper dive and a full car insurance review with the company that best suits your needs. This coverage and discount will get your vehicle back on the road ASAP.
Have you been injured in an accident?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, here’s what not to do:
- Don’t leave the scene of an accident. Even if the other car involved in the crash insists that you leave, don’t do it! You need to speak with a lawyer before deciding if this is the right course of action or not.
- Don’t forget to exchange information with other drivers. If there are witnesses present at your car accident, ask them for their names and contact information so that you can reach out later on, to either them or their attorneys.
- Don’t admit fault to anyone but yourself—even if they’re trying to blame someone else for the car accident! Your insurance company will handle everything related to compensation and responsibility after they receive all pertinent information from their investigation into your case (which may take months). In addition, unless one driver did something wrong that led directly up until impact (e.g., swerved their car into traffic), both parties should be considered equally responsible for any resulting injuries due to an inability by either party’s ability to drive their vehicle safely given road conditions at the time of the collision; therefore both parties should expect some sort of settlement offer from each respective insurance company involved within weeks after filing a claim.
- Don’t overestimate your ability to handle a personal injury case from start to finish. If you’re trying to prove liability or seek more compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, speak with an experienced attorney. For example, if you’re in a car accident and the defendant was engaged in distracted driving, a proper law firm and attorney should work on your behalf. An attorney will have an understanding of personal injury law and how to prove liability. They may need to collect a copy of the police report or canvas eyewitnesses to the car accident. They look at all factors of your unique circumstances to best determine liability and help you seek compensation in your car accident settlement.
- Don’t ignore the rising car insurance rates, but also consider the possible discounts available. This way, your claim can include not only the damage to your car/ other vehicle but the new insurance covers costs associated with your car insurance policy. The repair/ insurance costs associated car crash claims dictate the overall settlement size from the liable party’s insurance coverage.
There are many things that you should avoid doing if you’re involved in a car accident or personal injury case. Remember, it’s not just the law that’s on your side; it’s also common sense. Don’t leave the scene of a car accident, don’t admit fault to anyone (including yourself), don’t accept an insurance settlement right away, don’t make assumptions about your injuries, and don’t refuse medical care. Further, ensure everything is being done to get you and your vehicle back on the road. Make sure you aren’t hit with repair costs for your car or a rate increase for your car insurance.
Instead, consider these factors before making any decisions about what may be best for you as an individual who has been injured in an accident!
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you need a team of experienced attorneys who fully understand personal injury law. With Moet Law, you’ll work one-on-one with car accident lawyers dedicated to helping your family through the legal process as well as getting you a fair settlement. Contact our law firm here for a free consultation. Remember, you pay nothing unless we win!