10 Things You Shouldn’t Do After a Car Accident
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Auto accidents are inconvenient and overwhelming experiences. Injuries resulting from a car crash can leave victims disabled, unable to work, unable to engage in daily activities, and emotionally scarred. There are certain steps you should take after a car accident, like calling 911, notifying your insurance, and getting medical treatment. But, there are also missteps you should avoid. If you make the wrong decisions after a car accident, it can negatively impact your claim for compensation. Here are ten things auto accident lawyers Newport Beach would advise you not to do.
1. Leaving the Crash Scene
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 the law, but you also hinder the ability of an attorney in Newport Beach to pursue your case. The person suing is entitled to damages that compensate for pain, suffering and expenses and lost wages. At-fault drivers in a hit and run accident cannot prove fault or file a successful claim.
2. Not Reporting the Crash
Under California law, you have 24 hours after a car accident to report it to California Highway Patrol or police in the city where it occurred. Whether it is a fender-bender or results in severe injuries, death and property damage, it cannot exceed that time frame. The requirement protects you against accusations of fault from opposing drivers, or argument by insurance companies that don’t have your best interest in mind. By reporting the crash, you are reconfirming a truthful account of what took place.In doing so, your attorney will be able to negotiate with your and the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
3. Refusing All Medical Treatment or Downplaying Injuries
For your own sake and that of your personal injury case, you should not avoid hospital treatment. Most avoid emergency or follow-up care due to the financial burdens, not having insurance, or coverage for hospital costs, medical treatment and therapy. Many people who get into an accident downplay their injuries. Though you may walk away from the accident with minor bodily harm, there are delayed symptoms a medical expert will tell you to look out for. By minimizing the extent of your injuries, you jeopardize your health and your case.
When you receive emergency medical treatment the doctor will provide a detailed report for your attorney to use in the case. They make note of all injuries, examinations and costs so you are fairly compensated by the at-fault driver. You should make reasonable efforts to prevent injuries from worsening, and jeopardizing your case if you avoid emergency care. 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 an auto-accident lawyer in 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”
Admitting to fault will serve as verbal consent, and as evidence against you. That truth applies in any accident. When the at-fault driver says “I’m sorry” or expresses regret, they are admitting to being a negligent driver who takes responsibility for all of the damages. The insurance company of an opposing lawyer can distort your otherwise expressions of concern and goodwill into evidence to undermine your case. It is best that you don’t converse with the other driver, or their insurance company a call before speaking to local authorities. Consulting with a personal injury attorney may be useful for you.
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. If you call an officer to the scene, that officer will often facilitate the exchange of information. Asking for the other driver’s name, address, vehicle information and insurance information allows a lawyer that specializes in car accidents to determine liability when you file your claim. The most important information needed is the insurance company and the policy number of the vehicle that collided into yours.
6. Not Obtaining Photos, Video or Witness Information
Images of the accident can further help your lawyer build your case as a driver. If you were rear-ended for example, taking a picture of your broken tail light, smashed bumper, paint damages will illustrate the impact. It will help build a strong argument that the at-fault driver failed to keep a safe distance, watch for your vehicle, tailgated or was distracted driving. Photographs or video of the damaged car will 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 are not obligated 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. Whether the accident caused severe damage, with the help of a lawyer in 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 an insurance check or signing forms from the insurance company before you consult with an attorney. Insurers may make quick and typically low settlement offers to play on your urgent need for restitution. Often, such settlements come with a stipulation that you are foregoing your claims for all damages, past, present and future. This includes unidentified and forthcoming losses which have not yet been processed.
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 accident. Avoid waiting until you have discovered the full extent of your injuries before you contact a personal injury attorney Newport Beach to pursue a claim 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 immediate 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 the at-fault 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.