At a minimum, automobile accidents are inconvenient. Unfortunately, many bring serious injuries that leave victims disabled, unable to work or engage in the activities of life, and scarred for many years if not permanently. You can compromise your right to be adequately compensated and magnify your hardships if you do not avoid missteps after the accident occurs. Here are ten such mistakes we as auto accident lawyers Newport Beach want you to not make.
1. Leaving the Crash Scene
You have a wealth of reasons to not leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident. One reason is the California Vehicle Code. Section 20001 makes it a felony to leave a crash involving bodily injury, while Section 20002 declares leaving the scene of an accident with only property damage a misdemeanor.
Should you leave the crash scene, you not only violate California law, but you also hinder the ability of a Newport Beach car accident lawyer to pursue your case. Specifically, you miss out on the opportunity to gather important evidence to show the other driver’s fault and your lack of fault.
2. Not Reporting the Crash
Under California law, you have 24 hours after a crash involving personal injury, death or property damage exceeding a certain amount to report it to the California Highway Patrol or to the police in the city where it occurred. The requirement protects you against any suggestion or argument by an insurance company or others that you faked the existence of a motor vehicle crash or your injuries. By reporting the crash, you subject yourself to prosecution for making a false report. As such, insurance companies (yours and the other driver) are less likely to conclude that you made up the fact of the crash.
3. Refusing All Medical Treatment or Downplaying Injuries
For your own sake and that of your personal injury case and the personal injury attorney Newport Beach that takes it, resist the temptation to show your physical fortitude or simply get to another destination. Those who give in often will refuse to go to the hospital or follow-up with medical treatment and therapies. In many cases, what appears to be an initial lack of major pain or observable symptoms could mask more serious injuries caused by the crash.
By minimizing the extent of your injuries, you jeopardize your health and your case. You must take reasonable efforts to reduce the extent of your injuries and losses. A court may treat your refusal of medical attention as a breach of your duty to mitigate damages. That means a court might not award you the types of compensation that a car crash lawyer Newport Beach seeks for injured people, such as past or future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering.
4. Saying “I’m Sorry”
Anything you say can serve as evidence against you. That truth applies in car crash cases as well as criminal ones. As such, saying to the other driver “I’m sorry” or expressing regret raises an argument that you admitted being negligent or otherwise at fault for causing the crash. The insurance company or an opposing lawyer can distort your otherwise expressions of concern and goodwill into evidence to undermine your case. It is best that you not give statements about the crash to the other driver or that driver’s insurance company until you have consulted with an injury attorney Long Beach.
5. Not Getting Insurance and Other Information from the Other Driver
Not making statements about the accident doesn’t mean avoiding all communication with the other driver. Getting the other driver’s name, address, vehicle information and insurance information allows a car wreck lawyer Newport Beach to know against whom to pursue your injury claims. If you call an officer to the scene, that officer will often facilitate the exchange of information. Make sure you have the insurance company’s name and the policy number for the other vehicle involved.
6. Not Obtaining Photos, Video or Witness Information
Images of the vehicles help you and your Newport Beach car accident lawyer explain how the crash occurred. Rear-end damage normally illustrates a rear-end collision, and can help create a rebuttable presumption that the driver who hit you failed to keep a proper watch for your vehicle or followed you too closely. Photographs or video of the damaged car show other impact points and can demonstrate the force at which you were struck. Evidence of a hard or very impactful collision can support your contentions of serious injuries.
7. Talking With the Other Driver’s Insurance
You have no duty to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance. In fact, doing so comes with potential traps and perils. You might unwittingly make an admission of fault or violation of the traffic laws, unnecessarily minimize your damages or be requested to make decisions against your legal and financial interests. With the help of a car wreck lawyer Newport Beach, you can present medical bills, medical records, lost wage information and other evidence to support your claim.
8. Accepting an Immediate Insurance Settlement
Avoid depositing any insurance check or signing anything from the insurance company before you consult with a car crash lawyer Newport Beach. Insurers may make quick and typically low settlement offers to play on your need to have money quickly. Often, such settlements come with a stipulation that you are foregoing your claims for all damages, past, present and future. This includes those expenses losses which have not yet been discovered or realized.
9. Delaying in Filing a Lawsuit
As with most cases, personal injury cases have deadlines. In California, the statute of limitations gives you two years from the date of a personal injury to file a lawsuit. In most car crash cases, this is two years from the date of the crash. Avoid the trap of waiting until you have discovered the full extent of your injuries before you contact an injury attorney Newport Beach to pursue a lawsuit on your behalf.
10. Handling Your Case Without an Attorney
As you have seen, a car accident case presents many potential issues and pitfalls if you do not take the correct action or you make the wrong moves. The other driver’s insurance company naturally wants to eliminate or reduce the damages it has to pay for its driver’s negligence. Considerable work must be done to investigate and pull together the medical records and other evidence to get you the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact our auto accident lawyers Newport Beach today if you have been involved in a motor vehicle wreck.