By Marcus Fernandez
A car accident is a sudden, unexpected event that happens often enough that you need to be prepared in advance to know what to do if it happens to you. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 203,427 crashes occurred on roadways throughout the state in only the first six-and-a-half months of this year with 14,653 of them happening in Hillsborough County. If you are in a car accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation from the driver whose negligence or reckless behavior caused you to be injured and incur property damage. Be careful what you say or do immediately following an accident. Avoiding mistakes is essential to protect your chances of receiving rightful compensation after a car accident. Making errors during the process could significantly weaken or even lead to the loss of your claim.
What follows are some of the most common mistakes and an explanation of how each affects your ability to recover the damages you deserve. Use this information to know beforehand what not to do after a crash to avoid letting at-fault motorists escape responsibility for their conduct.
Mistake #1: Failing to report the accident to the police
Contacting 911 to report a crash involving injuries achieves two crucial objectives. First, it keeps you in compliance with Florida law requiring drivers involved in a collision resulting in personal injuries, death, or property damage of at least $500 to notify the police immediately. It also documents the accident.
When police respond to the scene of a crash, they collect information from all drivers and passengers, along with registration information of all vehicles. Their report usually includes the names and contact information of eyewitnesses, and it may consist of statements made by the other drivers or passengers to police officers about the accident. This information helps your personal injury attorney investigate and gather evidence to support your claim for compensation.
Mistake #2: Refusing medical treatment for injuries
It’s common for a person to sustain injuries in a car accident without experiencing symptoms for hours or even days later. For example, whiplash is an injury to the neck and upper back area caused by the force of a collision causing a person’s head to move forward and back in a whipping motion violently. It’s a serious injury, but symptoms may not develop until hours or days after an accident.
When you delay seeking medical attention, it creates doubt about the existence of an injury, its severity, and whether it was caused by the accident. Letting a doctor examine you and evaluate your condition right away creates a record of the injuries, diagnosis, and treatment that your personal injury attorney can use to prove your claim.
Mistake #3: Admitting fault or minimizing the extent of injuries
An accident scene is not the place to feel sorry for the other drivers and apologize for the accident. Even worse is admitting guilt or saying that your injuries are not that serious or painful.
Until a thorough investigation and analysis of the evidence takes place, the true sequence of events, the underlying cause, and the responsible party behind the accident remain shrouded in uncertainty for all those involved. In short, do not talk about the accident with anyone at the scene other than police and paramedics, but even then, do not admit fault or comment about the nature or extent of your injuries.
Mistake #4: Giving statements to insurance adjusters and investigators
An insurance adjuster or investigator for the liability insurance company of one or more of the other drivers may contact you and ask for a written or recorded statement about the accident. Do not speak to them or give a statement without first consulting with a personal injury attorney.
People working for insurance companies may seem sympathetic and eager to help you, but their job is to protect their company and the driver they insure. They are not on your side, so anything you tell them may become evidence the insurer uses to avoid paying your claim for damages.
Mistake #5: Accepting the first offer to settle without first talking to an attorney
An insurance company for another motorist may contact you shortly after a car accident and offer to settle the case. A quick settlement before you’ve hired an attorney to represent you may be tempting, particularly after the insurance adjuster making the offer explains how taking the money before getting a lawyer avoids paying legal fees.
The adjuster does not explain the danger of settling your claim when you do not know the extent of your injuries and the actual value of the claim. Information that an attorney would give you before a settlement of your claim. When you accept an offer, you sign a release giving up your right to additional compensation you may need because of permanent disability or future medical expenses.
A consultation with a personal injury attorney includes evaluating the value of your claim based on the facts of the accident and your injuries. The attorney looks out for your interests and negotiates to get you the money you deserve based on the damages that you incurred, including the following:
- Medical expenses, including expenses for future medical treatment.
- Lost earnings from being unable to work as you recover from the accident.
- Lost or diminished future earning capacity.
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering you endured.
- Diminished or lost quality of life from being unable to do and enjoy activities you did before the accident.
Don’t let someone from an insurance company trick or pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement that fails to adequately compensate you for your injuries.
Avoid mistakes by consulting an experienced personal injury attorney
Mistakes happen, but they can cost you when made after a car accident. When injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s reckless or negligent behavior, you need advice and guidance to rely upon from a skilled and knowledgeable Tampa personal injury attorney at KFB Law.
We are committed to helping you recover from injuries by getting you the maximum compensation. Call today to learn more about what KFB Law can do for you during a free consultation and case evaluation.