Experiencing a car accident can be traumatic and stressful. With approximately 4.4 million people seriously injured by car crashes in the U.S. alone, it’s crucial to know how to respond appropriately after an accident to protect your health, safety, legal rights and finances. Avoid making these common mistakes in the aftermath of a collision.
1. Not Seeking Legal Advice
In the “fog of war” following an accident, knowing how to protect your rights can seem confusing. An experienced Boston car accident lawyer understands precisely which steps to take regarding medical care, vehicle and policy issues, negotiations, litigation, and more. Consider consulting one for a free case review.
Considering that human error is responsible for 94 percent of car crashes according to NHTSA, it’s likely that another driver is at fault. But their insurer’s priority is minimizing payouts, not covering your expenses. Don’t jeopardize getting the full compensation you deserve – have an expert firmly on your side.
Hiring counsel doesn’t imply an admission of guilt either. It simply demonstrates you intend to approach matters judiciously. Let a qualified attorney determine fault assessment, handle correspondence, submit claim forms, facilitate injury recovery, and achieve fair restitution. It’s the swiftest path to financial and emotional recovery.
2. Underestimating Your Injuries
After the initial shock of an accident wears off, your body will start releasing adrenaline and endorphins. This can temporarily mask feelings of pain. Don’t let this fool you into thinking you escaped unharmed. Soft tissue injuries in particular often don’t manifest symptoms until days later.
Always get checked by emergency responders or see a doctor promptly after any accident as a precaution. Failing to recognize the severity of even mild-seeming injuries can have consequences:
Developing more severe secondary injuries from trying to function normally with an underlying issue. An example would be making a broken bone worse because you didn’t feel it during the accident.
Pre-existing conditions can be worsened. Severe car accidents can exacerbate existing conditions by adding extra stress to the body.
Healing takes much longer without early treatment. Depending on the injury, prolonged healing can limit mobility.
Degenerative damage is setting in.
Don’t gamble with your health – schedule a medical evaluation right away so any issues can be diagnosed and managed appropriately.
3. Waiting Too Long to Act
While dealing with injuries is important, it’s equally crucial not to wait too long to take legal and insurance actions. The IRDAI sets a limit of 30 days for the claim settlement process to officially commence after you’ve reported the loss to your provider. Delaying beyond this due date can complicate payouts.
Additionally, evidence from the scene and eyewitness accounts grows more unreliable as time passes. Details fade quickly from memory, and weather or construction can alter accident sites. Report as soon as realistically possible for the best outcome.
4. Providing Excessive Information to the Insurance Company
When an insurance adjuster contacts you, keep the details you share minimal. While it’s important to give an accurate factual statement, don’t speculate or editorialize. Provide only critical info like time, weather, and surroundings. Casual oversharing can have consequences.
Insurers record these conversations, and anything you say may affect claim resolution or be used against you later. Car insurance rates can increase by about 56% on average after one at-fault accident with more than $2,000 in damage. Don’t sabotage yourself accidentally in the stressful aftermath. Provide only essential details and save the rest for your legal representative.
5. Failing to Document the Accident
Proper documentation is key when dealing with car accidents. Take photos of damage, injuries sustained, the accident environment, positions of crashed vehicles, and so on immediately or as soon as possible. Get contact info for anyone on the scene, even remotely involved. Jot down recollections of events fresh in your mind rather than relying purely on memory later.
Thorough evidence protects you from accusations or denials down the road. Capture even minor dents and scrapes that could worsen gradually. This substantiates claims when explaining the crash to officials. In cases with no police report filed photos may be your only proof of what transpired.
6. Not Reporting the Accident to the Police
For any collision involving major damage, injury, or death, calling the authorities is mandatory. But even for minor fender benders, a report from officers carrying out their unbiased assessment holds significant value. Your statement alone can be considered inadequate if disputes arise with the other motorist’s changing version of events.
Police report definitively establishes key crash facts like the date, time, place, road conditions, vehicle positions, and culpability. Depending on your state laws, not reporting an accident can have consequences, such as fines, a suspended license, or the inability to recover damages. When in doubt, call emergency services and let trained professionals handle the scene.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do I have to report a car accident to my insurance company?
Every provider has their own policies but generally expects you to submit the claim form as soon as possible. Time limits range between 24-48 hours to 30 days from the date of loss. Read your policy wording to confirm.
Do I need to call the police even for a minor car accident?
There’s no definitive damage threshold for reporting to authorities. Use your judgment – if vehicles can still be safely driven, exchange insurance details and you have all the necessary documentation, then you may forgo a police complaint provided parties mutually agree to settle privately.
How do I determine who was at fault in the car accident?
There are often complex factors surrounding any crash. Based on road rules and testimony, officers can establish primacy fault after weighing which driver’s actions chiefly contributed to causing the accident under the circumstances. But independent legal advice may still be prudent.
By avoiding these common errors, you can simplify the next steps and focus energy on healing. Protect yourself by acting promptly, documenting thoroughly, and speaking to qualified professionals for trusted guidance. With some diligence and care after an automotive mishap, you can get your life back on track smoothly.