10 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid after an Accident
1. Fail to call the police
You should call the police every time that you are in a car accident and request that they come to the accident scene and make a report. They may tell you that they will not come unless you need a tow truck or have an injury. Therefore, if you are having any symptoms at the scene, report those when calling the police, and they should send out an officer to take a report. Do not assume that the person who just admitted causing the accident will maintain that responsibility. Often their story will change if no one is there to put the blame on them.
2. Fail to call a tow truck
If you car has damage that appears to make it unsafe to drive, call a tow truck. If it has any rubbing, squeaking, leaking, or doesn't roll straight, call a tow truck even though it may not look like a total loss. Driving your car away from the scene conveys to an insurance company that your accident was a minor one.
3. Fail to collect evidence at the accident scene
Don't assume that the police will talk to every witness or that all of the witnesses will wait around for the police to show up. If you are able, write down the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses who stopped to assist you. Also take a few photos with your cell phone if you are able. Skid marks, collision debris in the road, and damage to the other car are often hard to get and easily lost if not captured right away.
4. Tell the other driver that you are"Okay"
Even if the other driver is very nice, and appologetic, do not tell him or her that you are Okay. Tell them of any complaints that you have no matter how small, or don't talk to them at all if you can get their contact information from the police or otherwise. Tell them if you are "shaken up" or have a headache or feel stiff. Any of those is better than telling them that you are fine when you are not. Anything you say is admissible against you. If you report that you are "Ok" or "not hurt" that is the first thing that the other driver will report to his/her insurance company, and that is a statement that you will hear them testify at trial that you said. Many soft-tissues swell over night after an accident, and you may feel awful the next morning after an accident that you thought did not injure you.
5. Fail to go by the ambulance or to an urgent care clinic
If you feel dizzy, nauseous, have a severe headache, stiff neck or low back pain that might impact your ability to drive, request an ambulance to take you to the hospital. As with your car away from the scene, if you leave an accident scene without requesting any care, the other driver's insurance company will likely conclude that you suffered no more than a muscle strain. Err on the side of caution, and get yourself checked out. If you are confident that you do not need an ambulance, at least get checked out by an urgent care clinic within 24 hours of the accident.
6. Fail to report every ache and pain to the doctor
Do not overlook or dismiss any of your symptoms no matter how small. Report every ache and pain to every body part involved in the accident to the emergency room doctor or urgent care physician. If your primary complaint is neck pain, do not fail to report a sore elbow that slammed into the driver's door. Your neck may heal in a few months, but you may also need an elbow surgery six months after the accident. If you have not reported it until your neck heals, surely the other driver's insurance company, and likely any jury at trial, will not connect the dots and find that the elbow was hurt in the accident. Report everything.
7. Give a statement to any insurance company
Neither the other driver's insurance company nor yours is your friend or neighbor. The written or recorded statement that they will ask you to provide will be used against you. They will ask you to provide information that is personal and confidential and which you do not need to provide. Protect yourself by NOT talking to them.
8. Sign a Medical Records Authorization
Do not sign one when the other driver's insurance company offers to collect your medical records for you and to provide you with copies at their cost. They will not start with when your accident occurred. If they think it will help in their defense, they will go back virturally to your birth. Nor will they limit their investigation just to body parts injured in the collision. They will collect whatever you permit them to and will use it all against you. Protect yourself by NOT signing anything.
9. Fail to follow up promptly with necessary medical care
Most ER or Urgent care doctors will advise you to follow up with your family doctor if you continue to feel symptoms after a few days. Do so. If you do not, any insurance company, and likely any juror will conclude that you are fine. If you are not fine, you need to be treated. Studies show that accident victims who treated aggressively after an accident healed better and quicker than those who waited around thinking that they would get better on their own. By the time that you realize that you are not healing, you may have worsened your injury and damaged your claim.
10. Fail to call a lawyer
From the moment that an accident is reported to an insurance company, they are working to minimize their exposure to you. They are out there protecting themselves from your claim. That is why their investigators are taking pictures, interviewing witnesses, asking you to sign medical records authorizations, and asking you to provide them with a recorded statement. Who is doing this for you? NO ONE! Not even your insurance company. They do not care about your injuries and pain and suffering as a lot of the time this will not be a claim that you are making on your own policy. They are not protecting you. They don't need to and won't when the accident is not your fault. At BISSELL LAW CORPORATION we will help protect your rights and document your case properly so that evidence is not lost, and the value that you deserve for your case is not diminshed. Call us today 916-983-3565
Disclaimer: "The testimonials or endorsements on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter." The information you obtain at this Todd S Bissell's Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. Please call Todd Bissell @ 916-983-3565 if you have any questions."