5 Things You Should Never Do After a Car Accident
After a car accident, it’s important to be mindful about what you do in order to protect your interests. Not only are there often complex laws governing what people should and should not do after a car accident, there are also practical tips that we’ve learned over 30+ combined years as car accident lawyers. It’s important to be aware of these 5 tips so that you do not inadvertently do anything that may have a negative impact on a potential lawsuit in the future. Here are 5 things our team of personal injury lawyers say you should avoid doing to be better prepared to obtain compensation after a car accident.
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#1: Leave the Scene of the Accident
Whether the car accident involves a single vehicle or multiple vehicles, it’s critical that you do not leave the scene. Remember that even if you’re not at fault, if you leave the scene, you risk being labeled as a “hit and run” driver. In most states, leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime. For example, in Florida, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a felony and comes with potentially severe consequences. Further, leaving the scene of the accident only makes it that much harder to gain the vital information necessary for a claim.
#2: Make Claims About Fault
At the scene of a car accident, emotions tend to run high. Adrenaline from the accident often increases anxiety and leads to more frequent confrontations. It’s natural to want to push blame onto others when they have hurt you or damaged your property. However, it’s vital to remember to keep your cool. After a car accident, the insurance company and your legal team will conduct a thorough investigation of all of the facts and evidence and make a determination of fault. Arguments that occur at the scene of the accident are rarely, if ever, considered in this investigation. In fact, these arguments often only serve to distract the parties from gathering the evidence needed to get this determination correct.
#3: Fail to Collect Vital Evidence
Information, especially the kind gained immediately after a car accident, is among the most powerful tools in a personal injury lawyers toolkit. However, since your legal team was not at the scene of the accident, it’s vital that you begin as soon as practicable after the accident to build your case. Our team of car accident lawyers recommend that you gather the following information:
- Take pictures of the damage to vehicles, any skid marks and nearby traffic signs and signals. If you can, it’s helpful to take pictures from different angles to provide as much context and scale as possible.
- Obtain any contact information for witnesses – as well as note the location of any private or public cameras in the area
- Make sure to obtain the insurance information for all drivers involved.
- Follow up with your primary care physician and make sure to save all medical records and bills as you receive them.
- Carefully document your injures and how they affect your daily life on an ongoing basis. This can be done in a simple diary or by cell phone video.
#4: Delay or Fail to Get Needed Medical Attention
Car accidents can cause a wide range of injuries, from soft tissue injuries to death. Many times, car accident victims are unsure or hesitant to seek medical treatment out of fear or uncertainty about who is stuck with the bill. Other times, car accident victims decide to “sleep on it” in hopes that the pain will simply heal itself or subside. We can’t stress this enough – if you even think that you may be injured, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Not only can your compensation claim be negatively impacted by lack of prompt treatment, but your health outcome can be made significantly worse by failing to seek early medical intervention.
#5: Fail to Contact Your Insurance Company
This one is important and often forgotten. Your insurance policy is a contract and governed by strict language. Many policies require that you notify your insurer within a certain time period (i.e. 30 days) after a car accident in order to have the claim reviewed. Failure to notify the insurer can void coverage in some instances. Even if you do not think that you had any fault in the car accident, we highly recommend notifying your insurer of the accident as soon as possible – just in case the determination of fault ends up differing from your expectations. Moreover, in “at fault” states such as Ohio, the at fault driver may not have insurance. This may require you to make a claim on your own policy – which can be negatively impacted by failing to promptly notify your insurer.
Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan