10 Mistakes People Make Following an Auto Accident
Auto accidents can happen in a split second, and can leave us injured, or at the very least, quite shaken up. In this compromised state of mind, we’re likely to forget to do some common sense things. Here are some mistakes people make following an accident. Try to remember them if you’re involved in an accident, or consider printing this and keeping it in your glove compartment just in case you find yourself in an auto accident.
10 Mistakes People Make Following an Auto Accident
1. Not Calling 911 or the Police
Following an accident involving injury, you should call 911 for emergency. If the accident does not constitute an emergency, you should then contact the local or state police. While many people don’t like to get the police involved if the accident is relatively minor, they can still collect evidence that may work in your favor should you go to court. They can take statements from witnesses, analyze the scene, and take photographs. Their crash report will contain other critical information, and if they give the other party a traffic ticket that will work in your favor when you attempt to prove that you were not at fault.
2. Not Gathering Evidence
If you opt not to call the police, it’s important to take photos (it used to be difficult to convince people to keep a camera in their car, but today we all have cell phones). This will be helpful for your insurance agency and can help your recall the specifics of the situation later on. Be sure to photograph injuries, damage, the other driver’s license plate, and the scene on the street. You should also take down the names and numbers of any witnesses, and make a note of traffic and weather conditions.
3. Not Moving to the Side of the Road
If no one is severely injured and the vehicles suffered minimal damage, be sure to move off to the side of the road. It’s not uncommon for accidents to pile up, with unprepared drivers crashing into the initial vehicles, causing more damage to the vehicles or people standing near them.
4. Not Exchanging Information
When accidents are minor, it’s not uncommon for people to forgo the normal exchange of information (license, vehicle registration, license plate number, and insurance information). However, some injuries can manifest days later (such as whiplash when rear-ended) and vehicle damage may not be apparent right away. So, be sure to exchange information for every fender bender.
5. Not Watching Word Choice
While some people immediately jump to the defensive following an accident, others look to resolve things quickly, and often say “I’m sorry” even if the accident was not their fault. Avoid apologizing following a crash; it will seem as though you are admitting guilt. Should witnesses hear you say this, it could damage your case in court.
6. Not Going to the Doctor
If you’ve been injured—even if the injuries seem minor—it’s important to see the doctor to document your injuries. If you plan to claim for recovery, your verified injuries will need to be presented (it’s not enough to simply say you were hurt). In addition, well-documented injuries make it more likely that the other party will agree to pay you a fair settlement without needing a trial.
7. Not Calling Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance agent so they can be aware of the accident. Do not place any blame on the other party and do not accept any blame. The fault of the accident should be determined by the insurance agent.
8. Not Questioning the Insurance Company
Despite what their advertisements tell you, your insurance company is not your best friend. They profit from every dollar they don’t have to pay out. So, they’ll look for ways to deny your claim, or may try to convince you that you’re getting a significant settlement when you’re really just getting pennies on the dollar. You may want to ask an experienced injury lawyer to evaluate your claim to determine whether you’re getting a raw deal; if so, they may be able to help you get what you deserve.
9. Not Filing Quickly Enough
Florida provides ample time to file an accident claim following a crash. Under Florida Statute 95.11(3)(a), the statute of limitations for drivers to file an accident claim is four years after the date of the crash. But remember, even if you miss this deadline by just one day, you will be unable to recover any compensation for your accident.
10. Not Defending a Traffic Ticket
If the police officer on the scene gives you a traffic ticket for the accident and you don’t believe you are to blame, it’s important to fight it. It may be tempting to just pay it and be done with it, but that can make it harder to win your case in civil court. You have a limited period to request a hearing for the ticket and it may be a good idea to have an experienced auto accident attorney with you.
An auto accident is a frightening experience, but by remembering to stay calm, you can keep yourself in control and make the best of a bad situation. If you’ve been in an auto accident involving injury or in an accident with a commercial vehicle, get an experienced auto accident attorney on your side by calling the experts at Lowman Law Firm. We’ll work with you to get you the best possible result in court.