Ten Biggest Mistakes After a Car Accident
If You’re In A Car Accident, Don’t Panic: Make sure everyone is safe, and then make sure to avoid these 10 common mistakes.
Let Us Deal With Your Claim: After a crash, all you want to do is get your life back on track. A personal injury attorney can help.
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Here’s What NOT To Do When You’ve Been Hurt
If you’re in a car crash, here is a list of things you should never do. Click on each warning to find out more.
- NEVER Underestimate Your Injuries
- NEVER Wait Too Long To Act
- NEVER Give Too Much Information To The Insurance Company
- NEVER Fail To Contact The Police
- NEVER Admit Fault
- NEVER Forget To Gather Evidence
- NEVER Agree To A Quick Settlement
- NEVER Sign Insurance Documents You Don’t Understand
- NEVER Talk About Your Accident On Social Media
- NEVER Try to File A Personal Injury Claim On Your Own
1 | Never Underestimate Your injuries
Think your injuries from a car crash aren’t that bad? A lot of accident victims do – and by the time they realize that they really are hurt, the problems are worse than they needed to be.
Misjudging how severe your injuries are is a common mistake people make after an accident. It’s also a very serious one.
- Making it seem like you’re not really hurt
- Making recovery more difficult
Don’t Say You’re “Okay”
It’s natural to want to downplay your injuries, either because you’re in shock and aren’t sure of the extent of your injuries or you’re too overwhelmed and don’t want to deal with it. If you’re tempted to say, “I’m fine” after an injury, don’t do it.
Even if your injuries aren’t life-threatening and you don’t need an ambulance, don’t say that you’re okay. Instead, say precisely what you mean – you don’t need an ambulance.
What if you really do think you’re fine? It’s still not a good idea to say so. Sometimes it takes hours or even days for symptoms to present themselves. You might feel nothing out of the ordinary right now but could develop problems later, and these problems could be severe.
To be on the safe side, our car accident attorneys always discourage victims from saying they’re “okay.” If you’re not feeling symptoms right now, just don’t say anything. Otherwise, you could wind up unintentionally sabotaging your claim. The insurance company can use these early statements in which you said that you were fine to downplay the severity of your injuries and get out of paying you what you deserve.
Don’t Neglect to Seek Medical Care
Always let first responders know about whatever symptoms you may be feeling, regardless of how minor these symptoms may seem. A lot of injuries don’t seem severe at first, especially when you’re in shock. But that initial pain can turn out to be something serious – and it can get worse.
Failing to seek medical care after an accident can be disastrous to your health. How can your injuries get better if you never get treatment?
If you have obvious injuries, go to the ER now.
If not, see a doctor immediately upon leaving the accident scene.
When you underestimate your injuries and fail to get treatment, you’re making a big mistake. Sure, you may think your injuries are minor enough to resolve on their own. But it’s always best to leave that assessment – and documentation – to a doctor. Your health is too important to risk.
2 | Never Wait Too Long to Act
You don’t have all the time in the world to take action after you suffer a personal injury. There are deadlines, called statutes of limitations, on your legal rights. The statute of limitations is only one of the reasons you need to act fast.
- If you wait to get medical care, you’re not documenting the full extent of your injuries. Even worse, you’re putting your health at greater risk
- If you wait to investigate the accident, crucial pieces of evidence might vanish. Video surveillance footage could get taped over or witnesses might forget important details
- If you wait to reach out to a lawyer, you may have a hard time finding one to take on your case. An experienced attorney won’t want to handle a case if there’s not enough time to prepare it successfully
- And if you wait too long to file a lawsuit, you’ll miss the deadline completely. You’ll have no chance of ever getting compensation for your claim
Typically, car crash victims have only two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. In some cases, the deadline is even earlier.
We’re not saying this to overwhelm you. But the damage you can do just by waiting too long is significant – and, unfortunately, it’s an easy mistake to make. You always want to take any action to do with starting your claim sooner rather than later.
Once the statute of limitations passes, you lose the chance to file a claim. Call us today for your free consultation.
3 | Never Give Too Much Information to the Insurance Company
Trusting the insurance company is another mistake that can ruin your accident claim. Insurance adjusters aren’t on your side. It doesn’t matter how friendly they seem. Their job is to save the insurance company money. The best way they can do this is by figuring out how to pay you less.
Don’t give any insurance company details they’re not entitled to. Don’t talk about fault or about your injuries right now. Don’t agree to give a recorded statement.
Providing this information will not help you. It only helps the insurance company.
Only Give The Company Your Basic Information
When it comes to your auto insurance policy, you do have a contract to honor. That means you have a legal obligation to your insurer. Promptly alert your insurance company about the accident – and nothing else. The law only requires you to provide basic information. Once you have done that, you’ve met your responsibility.
You don’t have this same obligation to the other driver’s auto insurer. Don’t let this insurance company pressure you into anything. You won’t benefit from giving the insurer a statement or signing their paperwork. Ask the driver who hit you for their insurance information and leave it at that.
There’s only one way to deal with an insurance company without making a mistake that risks your claim. Hire a lawyer, like Console & Associates, to communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf.
Don’t let insurance companies put their profits ahead of your well-being. Call for your free consultation today!
4 | Never Fail To Call The Police
Don’t let the other driver talk you out of calling 911.
It doesn’t matter how minor the damage may seem. It doesn’t matter how sorry or in a rush the other driver claims to be. You need to report the accident.
In states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, reporting a crash isn’t only a smart decision. It’s something you’re legally required to do.
Why does a police accident report matter? Without getting your body and your car examined by the right professionals, you don’t know if the accident will have serious consequences.
If you try to pursue a claim later and you don’t have this information, you might not be able to.
5 | Never Admit Fault
After a car crash, you’ll talk to a lot of people: the police, the other driver, witnesses, and your insurance company.
No matter who you’re talking to, do not take the blame for the accident. Saying that you’re at fault is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
It might not even be true.
The thing is, it can be difficult right after an accident to figure out what happened. In the aftermath, people accept blame for accidents they didn’t even cause. Ultimately, the statements hurt their claim.
For example, drivers who are rear-ended may blame themselves for stopping too quickly. The law says it’s the other motorist at fault for not giving the car in front enough distance.
Never apologize for an accident that isn’t your fault. Even if you think you did cause the accident, never admit fault before talking to an attorney.
Have you already made any of these mistakes? It might not be too late. Here’s how to fix the biggest mistakes made after an accident.
6 | Never Neglect to Gather Evidence
Remember how failing to act quickly is one of the main mistakes people make after an accident? Not collecting evidence right away is a key part of taking action early.
When is the perfect time to start gathering evidence? While you’re waiting for the police to arrive at the scene of your accident. Take this time to compile as much evidence as you possibly can.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses and ask for their statements now. Don’t wait – you want their accounts while the accident is still fresh in their minds
- Use your phone’s camera to take pictures of the accident scene. Don’t forget to photograph the damage to your car, the damage to the other car, and the position of the vehicles
7 | Never Agree To A Quick Settlement
A quick settlement sounds like a good thing, right? After all, you get a check that can help cover some of those first medical bills and you don’t have to even worry about going to court. But settling your case too early is only good for your insurance company.
The insurance company wants to spend as little as possible settling your claim. They hope that, if they give you a quick offer, you’ll accept and they can keep their profits.
This happens all the time. An adjuster might say to you that the insurer wants to settle quickly to “help you.” So you can “put everything behind you.”
A fast settlement isn’t a full settlement. Don’t make the mistake of accepting less money than you deserve.
Don’t settle fast for less
Once you settle‚ you can’t reopen your case. Not if your injuries are more serious than you realized. Not if your recovery takes longer than expected. When your case is closed, it’s closed for good.
So, while the offer may seem fair now, it might not be enough to cover the full cost of your recovery later.
Say a year and a half after the accident, it turns out that you need surgery. You’ll be out of work for weeks. Will the money the insurer is offering cover those damages? And what if you’re never able to return to your old job in the same capacity? Will that quick settlement be enough?
Our injury lawyers know how an accident can cause a financial hardship. But there are other ways to deal with these struggles besides agreeing to a low settlement just so you can get the money sooner. You might be surprised at all the ways an attorney can help you with that.
Working with an attorney can also increase the size of your settlement. In fact, clients who let attorneys handle their car accident claims receive 3.5x MORE than someone who tries to file a claim on their own. When you let us file your claim, we will fight to get you everything your claim deserves.
Don’t settle for less! Call today for your free consultation with New Jersey’s experienced car crash attorneys.
8 | Never Sign Anything from the Insurance Company
You should always talk to an attorney before you sign any forms from any insurance company. Otherwise, you could end up signing away your legal rights.
When you accept a settlement for any part of a claim, you’ll have to sign a release form. This form releases that party from further financial responsibility. Basically, you agree that you won’t try to sue again for a claim when you’ve already gotten money for those damages.
But some releases contain language that strips you of further legal rights. If you sign these forms, you might lose your chance to pursue a claim against any defendant – not only the one already sending you a check.
This isn’t fair, but it happens – which is why you need to be careful when signing a release.
We also discourage accident victims from signing a medical authorization form. When you sign this form, you allow the insurance company to review your medical history.
What you may not know is that signing this form allows your insurer to see all of your medical history. That includes parts your medical records that have nothing to do with the accident. That’s private health information, something the insurer is not entitled to.
You might wonder what the big deal is. Because these medical records aren’t related to your accident, there’s no reason they’d need them, right? But an insurer who has access to that information could twist it to reduce or deny your claim.
Suppose you had a previous injury that resolved years before your accident. The old injury is unrelated to your current injuries. But an insurer might still try to use your medical records to say that the injuries you claimed to sustain in the accident are pre-existing. And this can hurt your claim, even if it isn’t true.
Remember, even your own insurance company isn’t on your side. You need to be careful agreeing to anything, especially in writing.
9 | Never Talk About Your Claim On Facebook
Using social media after an accident can be risky. Any information you choose to share could be helping insurance companies build a case against you.
Insurance adjusters use social media to spy on claimants. They look for updates and photographs that contradict your claim. They even seize on innocent posts and pictures they think they can twist to weaken your credibility.
Be wary of sharing updates about your accident or medical condition on social media. Even seemingly simple updates about your life could cause problems with your claim.
Suppose a Facebook friend comments on a status you post and asks how you are feeling. If you say you’re feeling better, an insurer who finds that post may argue that your injuries aren’t that serious.
Even seemingly unrelated, normal posts might be twisted by the insurance companies. A photo of a hobby, trip, or special occasion after the accident can be used to make it look like the injury hasn’t affected your life – even if it clearly has.
How can you protect yourself? Our attorneys suggest disabling your social media profiles until your case settles. At the very least, avoid broadcasting sensitive personal information across the internet. If a loved one asks you how you’re doing, reach out and respond to them privately.
10 | Never Handle A Car Accident Claim On Your Own
Failing to call an attorney may be the single biggest mistake a car accident victim can make.
Your insurance adjuster might tell you that you don’t need a lawyer. But that’s only because the insurance company doesn’t want you to have one.
Why? It’s bad for their business. Studies show that accident victims who hire lawyers get 3.5 times more money than those who don’t.
Paying out more money in claims may be bad news for the insurance company – but it’s good news for you. After all, you want to get the full amount of money you deserve. Your recovery depends on it. Without a lawyer, you won’t be able to do that. Without a lawyer, you’re looking at a huge personal hassle that ends in a lower payout.
Take care of yourself by making the best choices for your claim. Avoid these 10 mistakes and call Console and Associates award-winning New Jersey car accident lawyers.
If you need help avoiding the biggest mistakes you can make after a car accident, you have come to the right place.
- For 25 years, Console and Associates has helped car accident victims throughout New Jersey get their lives back on track
- We have won $100,000,000 for victims of accidents just like yours – and with our No Fee Promise, you pay nothing until we succeed in getting money for you.
- We Will Help Get You Better: Whether you need help figuring out where to turn for your medical problems or locating a specialist near you, we’re here to help. Getting you fixed and feeling like yourself again is our #1 priority.
- Our attorneys are so dedicated to helping injured victims that we handle personal injury claims exclusively. Every single day, we fight for families affected by car accidents. You want the best possible results for your claim – and we have plenty of experience to draw from to get you those results.
Avoid making these 10 biggest mistakes after your accident, and get help for your auto injury claim today.