A car accident is stressful event. Damage to your vehicle is an inconvenience, but that's nothing compared to the bodily injury and pain you may experience. It often leads people to not think clearly after the crash and make mistakes that hurt their chances of getting fairly compensated for their injuries.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid following a car accident so you can protect yourself from further damage:
1. Not going to the doctor.
Even if you think you're not injured, you need to see a doctor because the adrenaline could be masking your pain and making you think you're not as badly hurt as you are. Injuries can get worse in the days and weeks after an accident. If you think you're injured even a little, GO SEE A DOCTOR! Don't let concerns about cost or anything else keep you from getting medical treatment.
The other reason to see a doctor is that you will need documentation of your injuries to be reimbursed for the cost of treating them, and going to the doctor will provide you with that. In Florida, you have to go to the doctor within two weeks of the date of the accident. So, go to the doctor immediately after the accident and follow up on all the medical treatment you're supposed to get.
2. Handling injury claim without an attorney.
It's a mistake to try and handle personal injury claims by yourself. Insurance companies are known for offering a low settlement offer at first to see if you will accept it. They are in the business of making money, after all. If you're not an expert in negotiating personal injury claims, you won't know what's a fair settlement offer or not.
You need a lawyer to have the best chance of a fair fight between you and the insurance company. The judgment of an experienced professional is invaluable in personal injury cases. A good attorney will know what your case is worth based on their past experiences, and can fight to get it for you.
3. Not calling the police.
You may choose to not call the police to the scene of the accident if you're in a very minor fender bender, but if there is major damage to someone's vehicle or anyone is injured at all, then you definitely need to call the police. Don't ever say that the accident is your fault out loud, even if you think it is. Just give the facts of what happened.
The police should cite the responsible driver and write an accident report. Get a copy of it and write down the police officer's name. It's a good idea to take pictures of the cars and get the other driver's information, too. You can have too little information, but you can't have too much. Later, if there's a question about who's at fault, or your lawyer is trying to negotiate a settlement, the information from the police report will be important.
If you avoid these mistakes, you can prevent more serious problems down the line and give yourself the best chance of getting a fair settlement if you were injured in an accident that was someone else's fault.
The importance of getting an attorney was already mentioned, but you may be wondering if you can afford one. Fortunately, personal injury attorneys don't charge an up-front fee. They charge a contingency fee so that they only get paid a portion of any settlement funds they recover for you. That saves you money and gives them the incentive to get you the best settlement. There's no reason not to hire an attorney. Stay safe!