There are many articles on the internet about what you should do when you are involved in an accident. However, there are few that tell you what you should not do. In the first moments and days preceding an accident, you need to make sure that you do not do anything that could jeopardize your claim. Here are some common mistakes that personal injury attorneys must overcome.
1. DELAY MEDICAL TREATMENT
One of the biggest issues in a personal injury claim is not getting medical help within 24 hours. As the body pumps adrenaline, many people are unable to feel the true impact of their injuries. However, injuries do not always present right after an accident. It is important to be checked out by a medical expert. Going to the emergency room or your family doctor soon after the event is advisable. Many times, the squad is called to the scene.
Do not deny treatment, even if you only feel you have bruises or sprains. A full evaluation may show deeper damages. Also, muscle and tissue damage often increases as the hours pass by.
2. GIVING A STATEMENT TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY
Never give a statement to anyone without the advice of legal counsel. The insurance company will want a statement from you regarding the accident. They will ask questions about how you are feeling and your view of the accident. Even minor statements about feeling “fine” after the accident can come back to haunt you. The insurance company can use your own words to try to disprove any request for compensation.
3. ADMIT FAULT
Under no circumstances should you ever admit fault to anyone. Even if you feel that you are at fault, then you should talk to an attorney. When you admit fault, you are taking legal responsibility for the accident. Again, remember what you say can and will be used against you. You want to leave these decisions to the police and other investigators.
4. FOREGO THE 9-1-1 CALL
In a perfect world, the police would rush right to your side after an accident. However, it may be rush hour and there are other accidents ahead of you. If there are no severe injuries or there is inclement weather, the police may not be able to get to you. You still need to report the accident. The police report is a vital part of the investigation. In these cases, be sure to pull out your phone and take some pictures. Send these to the police department to become part of the official report.
5. LEAVE THE SCENE
You may feel it is okay to leave the scene if the damages are not severe and neither are your injuries. However, you have a legal obligation to check on the other party. You must exchange information with them and make sure they are alright. If you take off and leave them, and they are injured, you can be charged with a crime. If the other party is hurt, then you must call for help or in extreme cases transport them to the hospital. Failure to stop and render aid can be escalated to a felony.
6. LOSE YOUR COOL
As if the situation is not bad enough, many people lose their cool after an accident. You may be angry, hurt, or in a state of shock after the incident. This is not the time to start shouting and blaming others. Remember, let the officials handle the blame game. It is important to keep calm and work through this situation as adults. Let and attorney handle the arguing on your behalf.
7. FORGET WITNESS STATEMENTS
If the accident was significant, there is going to be someone who was watching. Be sure to ask for witness statements. These statements can help prove clarity, especially in cases where the police did not come to the scene. Get the name, telephone number, and factual statement including any details the person can remember. This person may be called to testify should the case go to court.
8. NEGLECT LEGAL ADVICE
The biggest mistake that people make after an accident is thinking they can handle things on their own. Only an attorney has the knowledge and ability to litigate on your behalf. Do not think that the insurance company is on your side. Remember, their goal is to settle quickly and for as little as possible.
If you or your loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, there are certain things you need to do. However, if you fail to do the aforementioned items, you are making foolish and often illegal mistakes that can cost you big time. Always get legal help when dealing with a personal injury accident. It could mean a great deal for your compensation package.
Bart Costello is the founder of Injury Law. Bart is passionate about helping people. He has built a strong reputation over the last thirty years as one of the premier Boulder personal injury attorneys.