Mistakes That Can Jeopardize Your Car Accident Claim
There are thousands of car accidents in the U.S. every year. In total, these accidents result in more than $230 billion—including property damage expenses, medical bills and other costs. If you have been injured in a car accident, chances are likely that you will end up with some expenses. If another party was responsible for the accident, their insurance company should be paying out a claim to cover those costs. Unfortunately, insurance companies are not looking out for the best interests of accident victims. Their primary concern is to protect their bottom line. That’s why it’s so important for injured people to take the right steps after an accident, to ensure they can file a claim later if necessary.
Unfortunately, not every injured accident victim is familiar with how insurance companies operate. This lack of understanding can lead to mistakes—which can jeopardize a personal injury claim, should they need to make one.
Here are 5 mistakes that can jeopardize your car accident claim:
- Apologizing at the scene. Saying “I’m sorry” when an accident happens can be a reflex for some people, even if they were not at fault. However, apologizing at the scene can make it seem to the other party that you are taking responsibility. Be compassionate toward the other party, and check to make sure they are okay, but do not apologize for the accident. If either party decides to file a personal injury claim, an apology could be cited as an admission of fault and used against you.
- Declining medical care. Even if your injuries seem minor, it’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible. Oftentimes, adrenaline after a serious accident can cause symptoms to be delayed. Moreover, some injuries—such as soft tissue injuries—can take days or even weeks to produce symptoms. Get evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible so that you can have your injuries diagnosed and a treatment plan put in place. If you decide to file a car accident claim for your injuries, these medical records will also be an important piece of evidence.
- Failing to gather important information at the scene. You may be flustered and overwhelmed after the accident, especially if you have been injured. Do your best to remain calm and focused. You’ll need to get the other driver’s information, including their contact information, driver’s license number and insurance provider. You should also write down the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident, and the names of the police officers who responded to the crash. Additionally, you should try to get pictures and/or a video recording of the scene, including any damage done to the vehicles.
- Not reporting the accident. If an accident doesn’t seem “major,” it may be tempting to not report it. You might think you’re saving yourself and the other driver the time and hassle by not reporting it. In some cases, it is against the law to not report the accident. California law requires that an accident involving an injury or death be reported to the California Highway Patrol or local police department within 24 hours of the accident. If a police officer responded to the scene and created an accident report, then you should not have to worry about reporting it yourself to the police. Additionally, an accident must be reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if the accident resulted in an injury or death, or if the property damage from the accident exceeded $1,000. Lastly, you should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Failing to contact a personal injury attorney for settlement negotiations. In the cases of some smaller accident claims, you may be able to negotiate the compensation yourself. However, serious injuries can rack up very large medical bills. You may miss a significant amount of work, and that lost income can add up. You may also have to make lifestyle changes due to your injuries, which also come with a cost. Personal injury attorneys are experts in negotiating with insurance companies. They know all the tactics these companies will use to try to get you to settle for less compensation than you deserve. It’s wise to at least consult with a personal injury attorney about your case, before hastily agreeing to an unfair settlement with the insurance company.
“There are many seemingly small errors one can make in a case like this that can potentially jeopardize the claim. If you have been injured in a car accident, the best way to avoid these mistakes is to begin working with a personal injury attorney as early in the process as possible,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an auto accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 777-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.