What you do in the hours and days after a motor vehicle accident can make all the difference in how much compensation you recover for your injuries and losses. After a crash, adrenaline takes over. Insurance companies thrive on innocent mistakes you can make. In my almost 30 years of experience, these are the five most common mistakes you must avoid following an accident:
1. Not Calling the Police
If you suffered serious personal injuries you should immediately dial 911. The police will arrive at the scene, gather the accident information, and prepare a police report. You will also be able to get any needed medical attention. If you have suffered serious injuries, go to the hospital. Accept that ambulance ride. Don’t drive yourself there.
2. Not Getting Prompt Medical Care
Don’t ever say, “I’m fine.” Injuries—like soft tissue or traumatic brain injuries—can take as long as a week to show up. See a doctor. The amount of time you waited will be used against you by the defense. Get the best care possible. All lost earnings while you are recovering will be included in your damages claim.
3. Posting on Social Media
Don’t post about your collision or your injuries. Don’t post photos. Think before you post. Ask family and friends not to post about your collision. Lawyers and jurors will have access to anything posted on the internet. The defense will use anything they can against you.
4. Trusting Insurance Companies
That “concerned” insurance adjustor’s job is to pay out as little as possible of the company’s money. Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance adjustor or agent. Don’t even say hello or call back. Let your attorney handle all communications. This is critical. Here’s an example of how a single conversation can hurt your case:
Insurance Adjustor: “Hi. How are you today?”
You: “I’m Fine. Who’s calling?”
Result: The adjustor notes in the claim file that you said you were “fine” and injury-free on the date of the call and will argue that you felt no further pain and suffering after that date.
5. Waiting Too Long Before Filing a Case
Almost all civil cases have statutes of limitations (otherwise known as deadlines) by which time your accident case must be filed with the court. If you miss the deadline, then you give up all rights to ever recover compensation. In some cases, the deadline is only six months.
CRITICAL BONUS TIP: Check Your UIM Coverage Today
The best way to protect yourself is to carry as much uninsured and underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance as possible. It’s affordable and invaluable. We recommend carrying at least $250,000 UIM. If the other person doesn’t have enough insurance, or if it’s a hit-and-run accident, you will be able to collect at least $250,000 for your losses from your own insurance company.