After a car accident, things happen quickly and certain decisions need to be made. Should I call the Police? Who should I talk to? Who shouldn’t I talk to? Unless you have prior experience with car accidents (most people don’t), these are just a few of the questions you will likely be asking yourself. The decisions you make after an accident will affect your car accident claim. Below are five of the most common mistakes people make that can ruin a car accident claim.
Not Calling the Police
Even if you think your accident is a minor one, it’s important to call the police. The police will investigate your accident, no matter how bad it is. The police will take statements from everyone involved, and of any witnesses who may have seen what happened. More importantly, the police will make a determination as to who caused the accident, issue a citation, and prepare a Crash Report documenting this information. This is important for any insurance company analyzing your claim. Also, if you suffered any injury, the police will also document your complaints at the scene. This is very important because insurance companies often try to blame injuries on something else (pre-existing conditions, prior accidents, etc.). If your complaints are immediately documented, this makes it harder for the insurance company to dispute your claim.
Giving a Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
An insurance adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company may call you and ask that you give a recorded statement. Insurance companies love to call people right after a car accident. This is because you haven’t had an opportunity to assess what, if any, injury you may have. You may still believe that all you have is minor pain that will just go away. As a result, you may naturally downplay your complaints. You do not have to do this! As this is not your own insurance company, you have no obligation to provide them with a recorded statement.
Downplaying Your Injuries
Thankfully, most car accidents don’t result in catastrophic injuries. But even what may seem like a minor injury at first can turn out to be a life-long permanent injury. The fact is, immediately after an accident you simply won’t know the extent of any injury you may have. Despite this fact, most people tend to downplay injuries, believing that any pain they may have will simply go away. This is a mistake. Statements like “I’m ok” or “It’s not that bad, I’ll be alright” can and, most times, will be used against you. Insurance companies love these statements. If you’re in pain, take it seriously and make sure it is documented. Tell the police about it. Tell your family about it. If your pain then just goes away, great! If not, your words won’t come back to haunt you in your injury claim.
Not Seeking Medical Attention Immediately Following Your Car Accident
Car accidents are unexpected, and usually, when someone is in one, they are on their way somewhere and they have a particular time that they have to be there. Because of this, a lot of people decline medical attention after a car accident, even if they are in some pain. Worse yet, some people also choose to wait for awhile after their car accident to see if the pain goes away by itself. This is a mistake!
The first thing an insurance company will look for in your medical records is when you first complained of your injury. Merely complaining to the Police Officer is not enough. Insurance companies believe that if you are hurt, you will go see a doctor. If you don’t go to a doctor, then you must not be hurt. This is their mentality. Unfortunately, many jurors feel the same way. So, the longer you wait to go to the doctor, you can bet the insurance company will use this as a reason why they are making you an offer for far less than what your injury is worth.
Not Following Up on Your Medical Treatment
When you are involved in a car accident claim, it is important to have routine documented medical treatment. If you fail to consistently treat, this creates “gaps” in your treatment. Insurance companies love gaps in treatment. If gaps exist (depending on how big the gap is), the insurance company will argue that your initial injury healed and that any further treatment after the gap is not related to your accident. This is a regular argument that we hear from insurance companies. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be a very convincing argument to a jury.
If you have questions about your Florida auto accident case, you can download our Free Report – Things You Must Know If You Were In a Car Accident – which is available at our website, or you can click the link provided. You can also contact us at (813)419-3866.