7 Common Mistakes People Make Following A Car Accident That Costs Them Thousands of Dollars
If you're like most people, getting into a car accident is a traumatic and shocking event that can lead to various stress factors thereafter, such as, car damage, injuries, medical bills, emotional distress, and possibly loss wages.
Often times, people act out of emotion in the acts immediately following a car accident. Because most people don't know what to do after a car accident, they similarly don't know what NOT to do. The following 7 mistakes highlights what you should never do following a car accident if you don't want to lose thousands of dollars in your car accident claim.
7 Common Mistakes People Make Following A Car Accident That Costs Them Thousands of Dollars:
1. Leave the scene of the accident without exchanging contact information of the at-fault person:
Regardless of whether or not you caused the accident, never leave the scene of the accident. In California, if you leave the scene of a car accident, it could result in criminal penalties and you could be charged with a "hit and run." Depending on how bad the other person's injuries are, that "hit and run" could result in a misdemeanor or felony.
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists.
Contrastingly, if you leave the scene of the accident without exchanging information with the other party, California Vehicle Code Section 20002(c) states:
Any person failing to comply with all the requirements of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
Exception: If you have been in an accident in a remote location and feel unsafe, your best course of action is to drive to a police station and report the accident!
2. Move or touch the injured or unconscious drivers:
Anyone who was involved in the car accident should be evaluated on whether or not they need medical attention. However, if anyone in the accident has neck or back pain, or is unconscious, do not move them until the emergency medical team arrives. If someone is seriously injured, call an ambulance immediately.
Exception: If someone is in immediate danger, such as a car fire, you can assist them to safety.
3. Say you're sorry:
As counterintuitive as this may seem, never apologize for anything at the scene of the accident. This could hypothetically be taken as you admitting fault or "liability" for the accident.
In California, drivers that cause car accidents must pay for any damages that are caused in the crash. If you suffered an injury, but nonetheless said "you're sorry" to the other party, they can use those words against you to escape their own fault and it cuts into any recovery you would otherwise be entitled to.
4. Fail to call the police because it seems "minor":
Always call the police regardless of how minor the accident seems. Often times people fail to call the police because all of the parties involved claim they are "fine."
When you don't call the police, however, and you were not at fault for the accident, you are creating more problems for yourself when it comes down to filing your claim with insurance. This is because if the at-fault party violated a traffic law, it would be included in the police report and this, liability is established for your claim.
Once the police arrive, ask them to file a police report. For your records, write down the officer's name and badge number.
When talking to the police officer, stick to the facts of how the accident occurred. Stay calm and factual, even if the other person is lying about what took place.
5. Rely on law enforcement to get witness's identity and statements:
Do not rely on law enforcement to do this important task! Witnesses may leave the scene before law enforcement arrives, or law enforcement may overlook documenting the witness's identity.
Talk to as many people as you can who were a witness to the accident. Keep a list of their names, telephone numbers and address. Also, ask them to give a summary of the accident (either written or recorded on your phone) and keep it for your records.
If the witness does not cooperate simply take a picture of the car's license tag and write down its make and model. Your attorney can use that information to secure that witnesses' identity.
6. Photoshop your pictures or forget to take pictures:
If there was any damage to your vehicle, take photographs to document it before it gets repaired. Similarly, if you have any cuts, bruises, or visible injuries on your body, take pictures of those, for documentation before your body heals.
If possible, take pictures of all vehicles involved and any physical evidence at the scene, including any skid or tire marking on the pavement, the intersection, or road conditions. If you are not able to take these photos yourself, and there is a family member or friend present, ask them to do it for you.
Do not doctor the photos in any way. This could be a detriment to your case!
7. Accept a settlement offer:
Most people know to call their insurance company immediately after getting into a car accident. It is important to be as open and honest with your insurance company as possible about the circumstances of your accident. Make sure they receive a copy of the police report.
What most people don't know is that if the other person's insurance company is calling you and offering you a settlement, DO NOT ACCEPT IT! The only reason they are making you a settlement offer is because they are low-balling you and knows that your case is worth more than what they are offering you.
Many injuries do not appear until weeks after the accident. If you take a settlement offer early on in the process, you prevent yourself from being able to file a personal injury claim in the future if your injury turns out to be serious.
If you start to feel stress, headaches, back pain or neck pain days or even weeks after a car accident, it is in your best interests to contact a personal injury attorney immediately!
Tip: Never give a recorded statement to the other person's insurance company without first consulting a personal injury attorney. The insurance adjuster's goal is to NOT pay you.
Call RC Legal Group if you or someone you know has gotten into an accident. This is not a sales trap. We don't get paid, unless we win you money! 858-800-2458 Let us help you.