Common Legal Mistakes to Avoid After an Auto Accident
In addition to dealing with the emotional and physical side effects of a car wreck?
We know that you’ll also have to face the legal and financial consequences.
While we understand that it’s easy to feel frightened and frazzles in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident, it’s also the time to act. You’ll need to gather evidence, contact the police, and much more.
Unfortunately, many people make mistakes both directly after a crash and over the course of their claims and court proceedings that seriously jeopardize the outcome of their case.
Which mistakes should you avoid?
Read on to find out.
The Most Common Legal Mistakes After An Auto Accident
Your worst nightmare has come true, and you’ve found yourself in the middle of an auto accident.
Whether or not you were at fault, what you do in both the immediate aftermath of the accident and over the course of the court proceedings can have a serious impact on the overall outcome on your case.
Now, let’s take a look at a few of the most common ways that people jeopardize their cases after an auto accident.
1. Not Gathering Evidence At The Scene
We know that, after you’ve been in an auto accident, it can be challenging to think clearly.
While of course, we want you to ensure that you or anyone else involved in the accident hasn’t been injured (and to move your car over to the side of the road) there are other things you need to do.
One of the most important?
Taking pictures of any injuries you’ve sustained in the crash, as well as collecting photo evidence of the damage done to both your car and the road.
You should also take pictures of the license plates of the other cars involved in the crash. Do this as soon as you can, as about 11% of drivers in an auto accident will flee the scene.
2. Not Collecting Witness Statements
Another one of the most common legal mistakes that far too many people make after an auto accident?
Forgetting to gather up as many witnesses as possible.
Again, once you are out of physical danger and have collected photographic evidence, you need to look around the scene and see who witnessed the accident from start to finish.
Then, ask them whether or not they would be willing, if needed, to testify in court or to provide a statement to the police.
Above all, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you’ve taken the time to collect the names and the contact information of all the witnesses you’ve spoken with. Yes, the police will likely also take this information (more on that in a moment.)
However, you and your attorney may need to speak to a witness again in the future.
3. Failure To Contact The Police At The Scene
After an auto accident, many people are so frazzled — or so afraid — that they either forget or don’t want to get in touch with law enforcement.
And while the police aren’t necessarily going to be on your — or anyone’s — side, they will ensure that you’re able to get the evidence that you need to file an insurance claim or even take someone to court down the line.
Plus, if you don’t contact the police and the case later goes to trial, you aren’t exactly going to look like the most credible and honest person in the world. \Your insurance company will likely use the fact that you didn’t contact the authorities after your auto accident against you when you try to make your claim.
Additionally, the police will help you to file a police report, collect more witness statements and contact information, and even get more detailed evidence.
In short, calling the police is always a smart idea. Just make sure you know the name and precinct of all the officers involved in the aftermath of your auto accident.
4. Admitting Fault
You might think that keeping your mouth shut after an auto accident is a no-brainer.
However, remember that the stress of the situation — and even the potential guilt you might feel — can influence you in unexpected ways.
In the aftermath of a crash, it’s important to stay as calm and collected as possible.
While we know that it can be tempting to just admit wrongdoing so that you can get things over and done with? It’s not going to help you avoid paying hefty fines, potential medical bills and car repairs for the other party.
Plus, it certainly won’t help you when you file an insurance claim.
In addition to not admitting fault, you shouldn’t even say the words, “I’m sorry.” It might sound like a small thing, but trust us when we tell you that many lawyers for your opponent will take that as an admission of guilt.
Instead, have as little contact as you can with the other party. And above all, try not to get angry, aggressive, or to lose your cool after an auto accident.
Do everything you can to stay calm and to avoid either jeopardize or worsen your case. You don’t want to add an assault charge to your list of charges as a result of this auto accident.
5. Not Making A Doctor’s Appointment
You’ve been injured in an auto accident, but you’re pretty confident that it’s nothing serious.
Instead of going to the doctor to get your potential injuries checked out and documented, you decide that they’re minor enough to heal on their own.
This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make after an auto accident.
First of all, it’s incredibly dangerous to your physical health. Just because you can’t see an injury, doesn’t mean that it’s not there. You may be at risk for a concussion, for internal bleeding, and much more.
Of course, going to the doctor after an auto accident isn’t just about taking care of your health and well-being.
You also need medical documentation of any injuries you’ve sustained as a result of the accident. After all, you won’t be able to file much of an insurance claim and get reimbursed for medical expenses without this documentation.
Get as much information from your doctor as possible.
What is the extent of your injuries? How long is the recovery time? Will you sustain any permanent or longer-term side effects? Will they impact your mental agility as well as your physicality?
There is no such thing as too many questions — especially when you’re preparing to file a claim or a lawsuit.
6. Not Contacting Your Insurance Company Quickly
Let’s get one thing straight right away: after you’ve been in a car accident, your insurance company is not on your side.
They want to get away with having to pay you as little as possible, and they have some pretty powerful resources that will allow them to deny as much of your claim as they can.
You’ve already collected evidence and medical documentation for both your health and your car insurance policies.
However, there’s another mistake that far too many people make after they’ve been in an accident.
They don’t contact their insurance company quickly enough.
Remember, the sooner you get in touch with your insurance companies after a car accident, the faster you’ll be able to get your claims. You may also want to have your attorney contact the insurance company instead of doing it yourself.
This is especially important if you suspect that you’ll be denied your claim.
7. Posting On Social Media
We get it. It’s been a few weeks since your accident, and you’re at home healing from your injuries. In addition to being in serious physical pain, you’re also bored out of your mind.
The only thing that you can do to pass the time?
Scroll through Facebook and your other social media platforms, commenting and liking to your heart’s content. You even let off a little steam about what an idiot the other driver involved in your car accident is.
You might even post something about how you feel like you’re going to get away with it or upload personal photos from the accident scene to prove to your Facebook friends you weren’t at fault.
But posting on social media during a lawsuit can have serious consequences. In some cases, your status updates and tweets may even cost you your case.
First of all, the other side’s attorneys will argue that, since you seem to be so active on the Internet, you can’t be as badly hurt as you claim to be.
Additionally, you could accidentally be entering information into the public record that your attorneys would much rather be kept private. In a way, it’s like giving your opposition a gift — the gift of knowing the evidence you plan to use against them ahead of time.
Finally, your statements online could very easily be taken as an admission of guilt. Even a photo of you on your one night out with friends after the accident could be used against you.
When in doubt, just deactivate for the length of the case.
8. Taking A Subpar Settlement
We know — after an auto accident, no one wants to spend additional time in the courtroom or in the process of mediation.
You may be physically unwell or injured, and you might even be emotionally traumatized from the accident itself.
Sometimes, it can feel like you’d do almost anything just to be able to put the whole thing behind you — including accepting a settlement that’s not really what you deserve.
If you’re able to persevere, however, you’ll likely be able to get a much better outcome. First of all, this shows your opponent that you’re not going to back down. Additionally, you’ll be able to build a more complete and compelling case for yourself.
Above all, you’ll likely get a higher payout than you would if you’d accepted the initial settlement offer.
That’s always worth waiting for.
9. Not Hiring An Attorney
There are plenty of things that you’re perfectly capable of doing on your own.
You can fix your deck, repaint your house, or even settle an argument between your kids.
Something that it’s not a good idea to take a DIY approach to?
Your car accident lawsuit.
You might think that you have the ability to defend yourself. You might think that you know exactly what happened on the scene. You might think that you have irrefutable evidence that proves the other driver was at fault.
But the truth is, the opposition can and will find something to surprise you with. And without an attorney, you could be in serious financial and legal trouble.
Don’t put yourself and your future at risk.
Always hire representation that has experience with car accident cases, understands the ins and outs of the law, and is willing to go the extra mile to make sure you come out on top.
Need Legal Representation After An Auto Accident?
As you’ve learned from this post, it can be incredibly easy to make a serious legal mistake after an auto accident.
While you might not think you’re doing anything wrong by uploading a status to Facebook or waiting another week to file a claim with your insurance companies?
These are all small things that, especially when taken together, can jeopardize your case.
Above all, you need an experienced and dedicated lawyer to help you win your case and get the kind of settlement you’re entitled to.
That’s where we come in.
Get in touch with us today to start building your auto accident case. We can’t wait to represent you in court.
If youve been injured, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you. Your case and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephens 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have any questions about this article or want to visit with a lawyer for free, call Stephen at (225) 500-5000 or contact us here. Or if you prefer, feel free to take advantage of our live chat system. Get Even! Call Stephen! Stephen Babcock