Common Mistakes After a Car Accident
Car accidents happen daily. There is no way around it. On average, there are over 6 million car accidents every year in the U.S.
After a car accident, feeling overwhelmed is completely normal. You may also be unsure of what to do next, or how to protect yourself. However, making the wrong decisions after an auto accident can have serious consequences for your health, safety, and legal rights. You may end up worsening your injuries, damaging your property, losing your evidence, or jeopardizing your compensation.
That is why it is important to know the 7 most common mistakes to avoid after a car accident, and what to do instead.
1. Not Exchanging Information
In any type of car accident, you should exchange information with the other driver. Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information. If there are any witnesses, get a recorded statement and their contact information as well.
Without this information, you will likely have a hard time proving the liability and the damages of the other driver, and you may lose your chance of getting the compensation you deserve.
2. Failing to Gather Evidence
Evidence of the accident scene, such as photos and videos, are crucial to determine liability. They can show the damage to the vehicles, the injuries, the location of the accident, the traffic signs and signals, the weather and road conditions, and any other relevant factors.
Evidence such as a police report can also support your claim and strengthen your case, especially if there are conflicting or unclear statements from the parties or the witnesses. Be careful not to lose accident documents and keep them in a safe and secure place.
3. Posting on Social Media
Posting on social media after a car accident can negatively impact your case. Anything you post can be used against you by the other driver’s insurance company. They can use your posts to question your credibility, argue that you were not seriously injured, reduce your damages, or deny your claim.
For example, if you post a photo of yourself smiling or having fun after the accident, they may say that you are not really hurt or suffering. It is best to avoid posting about your accident or injury until your case is settled.
4. Accepting the First Settlement Offer
Accepting a quick settlement offer can cause you to lose out on money. Initial settlement offers are often low and do not reflect the true value of your claim. The insurance company’s goal is to pay you as little as possible, and to close your case as quickly as possible.
They may also try to pressure you into accepting the offer, or to make you believe that it is the best or the only offer you will get. However, once you accept the offer, you will lose your right to negotiate for a higher amount, or to sue the other driver for more compensation. Consulting with a car accident attorney beforehand can ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case.
5. Skipping Medical Treatment
After a car accident, you may feel fine or think that your injuries are minor or not serious. You may also be tempted to skip medical care, either because you do not have health insurance, you do not have time, or you do not want to deal with the hassle. However, skipping a visit with a medical professional can be a mistake, and can hurt your well-being and your claim.
Some injuries may not be apparent right away, but may worsen over time. Additionally, the other party’s insurance company may reduce or deny your claim because you didn’t seek treatment. Always seek medical attention after an accident, no matter how minor or serious your accident is.
6. Admitting Fault
At the accident scene, it is normal to feel sorry or responsible for what happened. In the heat of the moment, you may apologize to the other driver or admit fault. This is a big mistake. Admitting fault can affect your liability and your insurance claim compensation when you try to file a car accident case.
California is a comparative negligence state, which means that the fault and the damages of each party are compared and apportioned according to their degree of responsibility. For example, if you were 30% at fault and the other driver was 70% at fault, you can recover 70% of your damages.
7. Not Reporting the Accident to the Insurance Company
If your accident results in injury, death, or severe property damage, you must call 911 and report the accident. You are also required by law to report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days if anyone was injured or the vehicle damage exceeds $1000.
You must also report the accident to your insurance company, typically within 24 hours. Depending on your insurance policy, the time frame to report an accident may differ slightly, so check the fine print. Failure to report an accident, either with the law enforcement officer or the insurance company, can result in criminal charges and loss of insurance coverage.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Santa Ana Today
Knowing what to do after a car crash can be challenging. Making car accident mistakes is common, but avoidable if you seek legal representation as soon as possible. The experienced car accident lawyers at Riverview Accident Lawyers will help you receive fair compensation if someone else caused your accident.
Our personal injury law firm in Santa Ana, CA maintains a stellar success rate across all types of car accidents and workers’ compensation. We offer a completely free consultation to determine the validity of your case. Call us today at (657) 655-6045.