A car accident is never something you’re anticipating. Whether you’re on the way to work, cruising around town with friends, or heading out of town for a business trip or vacation with the family, a wreck is the last thing on your mind. But they happen – and quite frequently at that.
Thousands of people are involved in accidents every year, with injuries ranging from minor scrapes and bruises to fatalities.
“In [the past] six-year span, 196,236 people died in auto accidents,” Aceable explains. “That’s more than the number of people who live in Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah. Imagine a whole city wiped out in six years. That’s crazy.”
Thankfully, most car accidents don’t end in fatalities. And if you do find yourself in the aftermath of a collision – whether minor or serious – it’s important that you know how to respond. In particular, you need to avoid making the following common mistakes:
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Never under any circumstance should you leave the scene of a car accident without first consulting with the other parties involved and contacting the police.
“After any car accident causing injury or significant property damage, you are required by law to report the accident to police,” the Gruber Law Offices explain. “If police respond to the scene of a car crash, they will conduct a routine investigation and file a report. However, police may not respond to every crash, which puts reporting responsibility on the individuals involved in the accident.”
- Admitting Fault
It doesn’t matter how clear-cut the accident was; it’s important that you avoid admitting fault to the other driver. And while you have to be honest with the police when filing a report, never give out superfluous details or admit to anything you’re unsure of.
It’s easy for your emotions and adrenaline to affect how you think. By not admitting fault, you’re simple imploring a protective strategy that ensures you have a chance to formulate your case outside of the heat of the moment.
- Not Getting Immediate Medical Attention
After a car crash, many people want to pretend the incident didn’t occur. The last thing they want is for some drawn out, complicated process that’s expensive and time-consuming. This leads to the huge mistake of not getting medical attention.
“Even if you think you are fine, it may be difficult to tell the type of injuries that you have sustained,” Arrowhead Clinic writes. “When the body is in shock, you may not feel the pain until later. It is important to have your injuries diagnosed as soon as possible if you are going to be pursuing an auto injury claim.”
- Accepting a Quick Settlement
If you’re the victim in a car accident, expect your insurance company to contact you with a settlement offer. They’ll use any number of tactics to gently pressure you into settling your case. But taking them up on the first offer is a huge mistake. It may only be worth 10 or 20 percent of the case’s real value.
Don’t ignore the insurance company when they call. Hear them out and take notes. You can use the numbers they provide as a starting point for your negotiations at a later date.
- Not Contacting an Attorney
There’s a statute of limitations on car accident claims in every state. While you shouldn’t be hasty to accept a quick settlement, you also don’t want to make the mistake of waiting too long.
In the days and weeks after your accident, contact a car accident attorney to figure out whether you have a case. They can help you develop a plan and determine how much your case is worth.
Make Smart Choices
It’s difficult to think clearly in the aftermath of a car accident. You have a lot of emotions and sensations charging through your mind and body, which makes it challenging to make even simple decisions. However, you have to force yourself to slow down and be prudent.
Prudence in the face of trial is one of the hardest things to develop, but it’s a character trait that will serve you well in this moment, as well as the years to come.