Car accidents can be traumatic, especially if they involve any form of injury. Many victims of accidents hope to “move on” and put the memories behind them as quickly as possible. However, one can’t simply ignore the realities that follow an accident. Whether you are experiencing a car accident injury or not, it’s essential to follow the right steps after one occurs. Unfortunately, not everyone does — and these common mistakes could cost you in the end. Our car accident lawyers in San Diego recommend that you watch out for these mistakes and keep them in mind if you ever find yourself dealing with an accident.
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What are Common Mistakes After a Car Accident?
It goes without saying that each person will react differently to being in a car accident. Regardless of whether you’re involved in a drunk driving accident or a rear end collision, there are several common mistakes that you may make following your incident. Here are just a few examples:
Making an “Agreement” to Avoid Calling the Police
This informal arrangement is prevalent with more minor accidents and “fender benders.” One party might propose to the other that they simply exchange information and leave the scene together, keeping police out of the equation. This action is never prudent, as there will be no formal record of what happened at the crash site. It makes any future claims very hard to prove while making you susceptible to unfounded claims for damages.
Admitting to Any Fault At the Scene
After an accident, the urge to apologize to the other driver for the inconvenience of the entire experience is natural — especially if you suspect it may have been partially your fault. Regardless of the circumstances, you should avoid making any definitive statements about responsibility for the accident. Likewise, avoid accusations that can cause tempers to flare. The best course of action is to exchange information, wait for the police, and avoid any further conversation.
Avoiding Going to the Doctor or Hospital for Treatment
Many people hope to avoid visiting the doctor in general, not just following an accident. Concerns about large medical bills are not unfounded and can be a powerful motivator preventing you from seeking medical attention. However, without a doctor’s examination and the creation of medical records, it is hard to prove that your injuries were accident-related — which could cause you to lose out on opportunities for meaningful compensation.
Missing the Opportunity to Take Pictures or Video
It’s normal to be very shaken following an accident. Some say it is hard to think straight, while others suffer from anxiety. However, it is vital to document the scene while it is still exactly as the accident occurred. In future negotiations with the insurer, or even during a court appearance, such evidence could be key to proving which driver was at fault or how your injuries occurred.
Giving a Personal Statement to the Insurance Agency
In the days after an accident, your insurance company or the other driver’s insurer may contact you. Most likely, they will ask you to make some kind of statement about the accident “to provide your version of the events.” Politely decline this opportunity until you’ve had a chance to speak to a personal injury attorney. Such statements are often used to deny or reduce claims.
Posting About the Accident on Social Media
In a time when we’re accustomed to sharing our day from moment to moment online, it can be hard to avoid posting about an accident on your social accounts. However, you should avoid doing so, as it can create evidence that may be used to deny your claim. For example, if you want to lodge a personal injury claim, but your Facebook page shows you at a party days after the accident, the facts won’t be on your side.
What are Common Reactions After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, individuals can experience a range of common reactions, both physical and psychological. Here are some typical reactions that people may experience:
- Shock and disbelief: Immediately after the accident, shock and disbelief are common reactions. It may take some time for individuals to process what has happened.
- Physical injuries: Depending on the severity of the accident, physical injuries can occur. These injuries may range from minor bruises and cuts to more serious injuries like broken bones, whiplash, or concussions.
- Pain and discomfort: Injuries sustained in a car accident can cause pain and discomfort. This pain can be immediate or may develop in the hours or days following the accident.
- Emotional distress: Car accidents can be traumatic events, and individuals involved may experience a range of emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, or sadness. They may also experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some cases.
- Adrenaline rush: During and immediately after an accident, individuals may experience an adrenaline rush, which can temporarily mask pain and other symptoms. This surge of adrenaline can result in shaking or trembling.
- Confusion and disorientation: After an accident, individuals may feel disoriented or confused. They may have difficulty remembering the details of the accident or have trouble concentrating.
- Sleep disturbances: Many people experience sleep disturbances following a car accident. This can include difficulty falling asleep, nightmares, or waking up frequently during the night.
- Flashbacks or intrusive thoughts: Recurring thoughts or flashbacks of the accident may occur, causing distress and anxiety.
- Loss of appetite or increased appetite: Some individuals may experience a loss of appetite after a car accident, while others may find themselves eating more than usual as a way to cope with stress.
- Social withdrawal: People may withdraw from social activities or isolate themselves from friends and family following a car accident. They may feel uncomfortable or anxious in situations that remind them of the accident.
It is important to note that these reactions can vary widely from person to person, and not everyone will experience the same symptoms.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help You Not Make Mistakes After a Car Accident?
A car accident attorney can provide valuable assistance and guidance to help you avoid making mistakes after a car accident. Here are several ways in which an attorney can help:
- Legal advice: A car accident attorney is knowledgeable about the laws and regulations related to car accidents in your jurisdiction. They can provide you with legal advice specific to your case and help you understand your rights and responsibilities.
- Gathering evidence: An attorney can help collect and preserve evidence related to the accident, such as photographs, witness statements, police reports, and medical records. This evidence can be crucial in establishing liability and supporting your claim.
- Communication with insurance companies: Dealing with insurance companies can be complex and overwhelming. An attorney can handle communication with insurance adjusters on your behalf, ensuring that your rights are protected and helping you avoid common mistakes when dealing with insurance claims.
- Negotiating settlements: Car accident attorneys have experience in negotiating with insurance companies and other parties involved in the accident. They can help you assess the value of your claim and negotiate for a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and other damages.
- Filing a lawsuit: If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, an attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in court. They will guide you through the legal process, prepare your case, and advocate for your rights in front of a judge and jury, if necessary.
- Avoiding legal pitfalls: There are various legal pitfalls and mistakes that individuals can make after a car accident, such as missing filing deadlines, making statements that can be used against them, or accepting inadequate settlement offers. An attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that you avoid these pitfalls.
- Providing peace of mind: Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be stressful and overwhelming. Having an attorney by your side can provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a legal professional advocating for your best interests and guiding you through the process.
Don’t Miss Out on Your Legal Options
When you know what to do and what not to do following a car accident, you may help preserve your options to pursue a legal pathway for financial compensation from an insurance company or the negligent party. At HHJ Trial Attorneys, we can help. From negotiating with insurers to taking your case to court when necessary, our dedicated team defends your rights. To learn if you have a valid claim today, please contact us for a consultation.
Testimonial from Lizzie, a personal injury Victim in California
Adam and his team at HHJ are true professionals. They’re honest, responsive, and understanding. I really appreciate Adam’s honesty and he has been really helpful with addressing all my questions. Highly recommend!