After a car accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The force of the collision on its own is enough to have your head spinning. Add in the stress of the incident, and it can leave you in shock.
Unfortunately, that means people make simple yet major mistakes. This is especially true if it’s your first motor vehicle collision.
Below, we look at some of the most common mistakes in car accident claims. Then, we help you understand how to avoid them.
#1 Not Calling Law Enforcement to the Scene
After an auto accident that’s not your fault, the other driver might ask you not to involve the police. In some cases, people believe that calling the cops about an accident is too extreme. That’s especially true when people seem overall fine after the collision.
However, this is a major mistake. It’s crucial to call the cops to the scene of the accident. That’s because they put together a police report that describes the situation.
Once an officer arrives on the scene, they conduct an investigation and create a report. This report includes their notes about the circumstances. In some cases, they even assign fault.
Additionally, they list names of drivers, witnesses, insurance information, and the damage to each vehicle. If the other driver violated the law, they might also issue a citation.
In Texas, it is also mandatory to report an accident to law enforcement. On its own, that’s motivation enough, but a lack of police report only serves to delay your claim.
#2 Waiting Too Long to File a Claim
One of the most common mistakes in car accident claims is procrastination. People simply wait too long to act after the incident. While we understand how overwhelming accidents are, it’s important to understand that you need to act quickly.
The longer you wait, the more you hurt your claim and yourself. When you delay medical evaluation or care, you put your health at risk. Unfortunately, you also put your case in jeopardy.
This also allows important evidence to “disappear” from the record. Moreover, you might have a harder time finding a lawyer to take your case.
Lastly, Texas has a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. That means you only have 2 years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit.
#3 Admitting Fault
As mistakes go, this is a major one. Often, people want to apologize after a car accident – even when it’s not their fault. For instance, rear-ended drivers often apologize for stopping too quickly.
However, the reality might be that the other driver was distracted and following too closely. Regardless, if you apologize for an accident you did not cause, you potentially hurt your claim.
In some cases, people interpret apologies as an admission of fault. The officer writing the police report might list that in the report and even issue a citation. That all makes it more difficult to pursue the compensation you deserve.
To avoid these common mistakes in car accident claims, steer clear of these statements.
- I’m so sorry.
- I tried to slow down.
- It was only for a second, but I looked away.
These statements might seem harmless enough, but insurance companies use them against you in the claims process. Even when someone is at fault, it’s best to avoid admitting negligence when speaking to anyone involved.
#4 Agreeing to The First Settlement Offer
In many cases, the negligent driver’s insurance company is quick to offer a settlement. They want to take advantage of the situation and have you accept a lowball offer. It might seem nice and easy to take this first offer.
However, this is among the most common mistakes in car accident claims. People think too highly of the insurance company, not realizing the settlement doesn’t cover everything they need. For the insurance company, their goal is to pay you as little as possible.
After an auto accident, you need to understand the level of compensation you deserve. While the initial offer may seem fair, a minor injury might worsen over time. That can leave you footing the bill for surgery, medication, physical therapy, and more.
Additionally, a practiced attorney knows to consider more than your current costs. It’s important to calculate future costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other potential damages.
#5 Underestimating the Extent of Your Injuries
Another one of the most common mistakes in car accident claims is the assumption that an injury is minor. Oftentimes, people feel shock and a rush of adrenaline. These mask the severity of injuries.
In some cases, victims feel fine until a few days later when everything is sore. Then, they start to realize the extent of the injuries they sustained. That’s why it is crucial to seek medical attention after an accident.
Even a seemingly minor soreness can point to a significant injury. Additionally, your lack of awareness might cause you to aggravate your injury and make it worse.
In certain cases, people also downplay their injuries at the scene of an accident. When they do, they damage their case severely. If you delay medical treatment, insurance companies also try to claim that you visited the doctor about something else – not the accident.
Be sure to seek medical care as soon as possible. Never jeopardize your health based on an assumption.
#6 Giving Too Much Information to The Insurance Company
In some cases, people start the claims process right away. This can help your case, but you never want to provide too much information to the negligent driver’s insurance company. Their job is to save money.
When you speak too openly, they call your claim into question and twist your words against you. Never offer them more than they need.
- Don’t discuss fault.
- Never address your injuries
- Don’t offer a recorded statement
For your own insurance company, simply let them know about the accident. However, avoid offering up too much information.
If you partner with a car accident attorney, one benefit is that they handle the entire claim for you. When someone reaches out, simply direct them to your attorney. This is one of the best ways to avoid common mistakes in car accident claims.
Partner With an Attorney to Avoid These Pitfalls
While the other driver or their insurance company might try to convince you that you don’t need an attorney, don’t listen to them. Instead, listen to the statistics. When an accident victim has an advocate on their side, they often get three times more from their settlement.
Even when you believe the accident was minor, a lawyer can help you understand your rights. Additionally, many attorneys offer free case evaluations and work on a contingency basis. That means you don’t pay a dime unless you win.
If you experienced an auto accident, avoid the common mistakes of car accident claims. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand your options and work to maximize your settlement. Schedule a free consultation today.