No matter how frequently you pass an accident on the road, you never expect to be the next crash victim. No matter how it happens, a severe impact usually heightens your emotions and triggers stress. Because you have a lot at stake, you must rise above any post-accident anxieties and think about what comes next. If you say or do the wrong thing, your words and actions often haunt you until you settle your claim. Read on to learn more about the intricacies of filling a car accident claim from our auto accidents attorneys.
Consider These Dos and Don’ts
A lot of activity takes place immediately following an accident. Bystanders watch and listen. Police officers show up to investigate. Emergency Medical Technicians treat and transport injured people. As an involved driver, you are at the heart of everything. That means people listen to everything you say.
Do be careful when you speak
As you respond to numerous questions, people listen and remember everything you say. Police officers write it down. You must be careful that you don’t say anything that jeopardizes your liability case. If you talk to anyone at an accident scene, make only necessary, factual statements.
Do give just the facts
Most drivers have an opinion about who did what and who is at fault for an accident. Even if you consider yourself knowledgeable, you should only say what you know for sure. An emotional and financial investment sometimes blocks you from seeing the big picture as an accident victim. Let your insurance company or attorney handle liability and fault assessments. Don’t speculate.
Give just the facts:
- I was traveling through the intersection.
- My light was green.
- I was going 30 miles per hour.
- The pavement was wet.
- It was daylight.
- The other driver hit the right side of my vehicle.
- The other driver smells like alcohol. (You don’t know that they are intoxicated.)
Even that is too much information for you to give to the insurance company. It’s information your car accident lawyer should provide.
Should I Admit Fault?
NO! Even if you didn’t cause the accident, don’t say anything that sounds like you are admitting fault.
Spontaneous (res gestae) statements in emergencies or stressful situations often hold up as truth during legal proceedings.
- Don’t say, “it’s my fault.” Fault is a legal issue that insurers, attorneys, and courts decide. If you admit fault, your words influence claim outcomes, especially in the face of conflicting versions and inconclusive physical evidence.
- Don’t apologize or say “I’m sorry.” Sometimes nice people apologize because that is just who they are, but it sounds like you are admitting fault.
- Do help injured people, but don’t say you are sorry. It sounds like you believe you caused their injuries.
An experienced lawyer can help you determine who was at fault during the car accident and if there were other factors at play that would also determine the viability of the claim.
Don’t go home without getting medical attention
When you are in a serious crash, it traumatizes your entire body. Even if you feel okay, you should seek medical attention just in case. If you feel “shaken up,” you might not consider it a serious issue. Even EMTs sometimes decide you are okay when they do not see visible signs of an injury.
Serious trauma often damages your vital organs, spine, soft tissues, and head. Recent statistics from traumatic brain injury model systems show that vehicle accidents cause 49 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. You will not always see cuts, bruises, or bleeding when you have internal wounds. To be sure you did not sustain an injury, you need diagnostic testing from a medical professional. In the meantime, do not ever tell an insurance investigator that you are “okay.”
Do document the evidence at the scene
Not long after a crash, the accident scene begins changing. While waiting for a police officer’s arrival, drivers move their cars. Witnesses walk away, and vehicle debris shifts with moving traffic. This transitioning evidence confirms your version and tells others how the accident occurred. That is why you must document it while you can. Your smartphone provides the perfect tools for preserving evidence. If your injuries prevent you from navigating the accident scene, ask a bystander for assistance.
Use your phone to capture and preserve physical evidence.
- The other driver: their face, driver’s license, insurance card, and current address.
- The vehicles: both vehicles’ stopping positions, the other vehicle’s license plates, make, model, crash damage, areas of contact, old damage.
- The accident scene: overall view of the scene, vehicle debris in the street, pavement condition, skid marks, traffic control devices, street signs, weather.
Ask bystanders if they witnessed the accident.
You usually miss important information when you don’t talk to witnesses yourself. Witnesses often leave accident scenes before the police arrive. If they stick around, they don’t always like going on the record for a police report.
If you locate a witness:
- Ask for their names and contact information for your insurance company.
- Record their information with your phone’s recording app.
- Ask the witness to write down their information if they don’t feel comfortable using a cell recorder.
Should I go to the doctor after a car accident?
YES, Liability insurers assess your damages based on your medical treatment when you file an injury claim. Your medical records must support your claim if you say you are injured. You must keep your doctor appointments and comply with any recommended physical restrictions. If your doctor prescribes medication, you must fill the prescriptions. If you need therapy, you must maintain the established schedule.
Do track your injury, pain, and suffering
After an accident, months or even years pass before finalizing a claim settlement. If you sustained a severe injury and endured excruciating pain, it all seems like a vague memory when you finally negotiate your settlement.
When you record your recovery in a daily journal, it helps trigger memories you forgot otherwise.
- Document your treatment and recovery difficulties.
- Describe your daily physical challenges and limitations.
- Explain how your injuries affected your family.
- Describe your pain, suffering, emotional distress, anxiety, etc.
- Write daily notes about anything you want an insurer to know when you settle your claim or give a deposition.
Do remember that someone is (probably) watching you
That sounds a bit creepy, but it is true. When insurers evaluate injury claims, they want to know everything about you. They talk to your neighbors, sit in front of your home, and record you as you come and go. They don’t do this 24/7, but you should never let your guard down.
Social media investigators watch you on Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok, and other sites. If they see you doing things an injured person should not do (dancing, performing, participating in strange challenges), it eventually comes up during settlement negotiations and could limit the amount of compensation you could receive. Look at previous similar cases or common factors in settled cases to get an idea of how much your claim is worth.
Do I need to hire a Lawyer?
YES. Auto accidents get complicated, especially when you sustain serious or catastrophic injuries. When you work with personal injury attorneys, you don’t have to worry about all the dos and don’ts after a car accident. They take care of the complex liability issues while you focus on healing. Personal injury attorneys deal with responsible parties, their insurers, and their defense attorneys. They assess the liability issues, evaluate your claim, and seek the best possible settlement on your behalf. To learn more about why you should hire a car accident lawyer schedule a free case evaluation today and have a legal profession help guide you through your claim.
When you contact a personal injury law firm, they arrange a free consultation. They listen to you and discuss your legal rights. It is up to you when and if you move forward with your liability claim.