Avoid These 8 Car Accident Mistakes
A car accident can be a very traumatic experience, especially if you have been injured. In addition to dealing with injuries, victims often face difficulties when it comes time to contact the other driver’s insurance company and attempt to recover damages. The steps you take after the accident can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. You can protect yourself and increase your chances of recovering maximum financial compensation by avoiding these eight common car accident mistakes.
1. Failing to Call the Police
If you and the other driver involved decide not to call the police at the time of the accident, this can actually have a negative effect on your claim. When you have the police come to the scene, the officer will obtain objective details about the collision and write up a report that can later aid you in your case. Just remember that you shouldn’t admit fault when you are delivering your statement to the officer because the other driver’s insurance company will use this to their advantage to get out of paying you for any damages you experienced.
2. Not Obtaining the Other Driver’s Information
Even if you are involved in a minor accident with no apparent auto damage or physical injury, you should still take the time to collect the other driver’s information. After all, some injuries don’t present symptoms for hours, even days, later. You don’t want to be solely responsible for paying for any medical treatment that you may need. This is why it’s so important to exchange information at the scene of the incident. You should collect:
- Contact info from the driver and any witnesses
- Driver’s license and insurance information
- License plate numbers and vehicle descriptions
3. Not Getting Enough Evidence
Evidence has a major impact on your case outcome. For the best possible result, you should be prepared with as much evidence from the scene as possible. Use your smartphone to take pictures of the scene and anything related to the accident, including automobile damage, injuries, and any poor road conditions. In many cases, you can use these to prove fault or the extent of an injury. Also, be sure to get the contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the accident in case you and the other driver have conflicting stories during the investigation.
4. Not Being Seen by a Medical Professional
Many people forgo seeking medical treatment right away after an accident, but this can be a costly mistake. You may have injuries that you don’t know about yet, which will only grow worse until you get the appropriate treatment. If you decide not to obtain treatment at the scene, you should visit a medical professional as soon as possible. This way, you can protect your health as well as have the documented evidence of your injuries that you will need should you decide to move ahead with a personal injury claim against the negligent driver.
5. Putting Off Filing for a Claim
You should know that California has a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim. For most cases, the victim will need to file two years from the date of the injury. However, the sooner that you file, the more it will benefit your case. Filing in a timely manner will also give your personal injury lawyer ample time to evaluate your case, work with the insurance company, and build the strongest claim possible for you.
6. Handling the Insurance Company on Your Own
A representative from the other driver’s insurance company will likely contact you within a few days of the accident, but you should be wary of dealing with them without proper legal representation. They may use sneaky tactics to get you to admit fault, or you could say something that could result in a lower payment—or no payment at all. It is usually in your best interest to speak with a Bakersfield attorney before discussing the accident with the insurance representative.
7. Accepting too Little for Your Claim
Auto accident victims often trust that the insurance company will pay them a fair amount for their damages, so they quickly take the settlement amount that they are offered. However, by doing this, you could receive much less than you deserve simply because you don’t know about all of your legal rights to compensation. Depending on the individual circumstances of your case, a claim can involve any of the following:
- Vehicle repair or replacement costs
- Immediate medical treatment
- Rehabilitative care for long-term injuries
- Lost wages from the time you needed to recover
- Future lost income for any disabling injuries
- Pain and suffering related to the accident
If you are uncertain about how much your claim is really worth, it is a good idea to speak with a Bakersfield auto accident attorney. They will be able to advise you, protect your rights, and do the work to ensure you receive a satisfactory offer from the responsible party.
8. Not Consulting With a Lawyer
Many people decide to speak with an insurance company and accept their first offer without ever speaking with a lawyer. This is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make after a car accident. A personal injury lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and inform you if you could be eligible for a claim. Insurance companies will attempt to pay you as little as possible, but your lawyer can advise you on what to say and what not to say to help you obtain reasonable compensation.
Your Bakersfield Auto Accident Lawyer
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we have worked with many auto accident victims and families in the Bakersfield area. We know which steps you should take to ensure the best possible outcome for your personal injury claim, and we are ready to help you at any stage of your case. Contact us today to set up a free consultation with our auto accident lawyer.