By Marcus Fernandez
The shock and chaos at the car accident scene make it difficult for the drivers and occupants to think clearly. It’s even worse when you must also contend with the effects of an injury. Mistakes people make after a car accident can affect their ability to recover compensation. For example, not getting immediate medical treatment can weaken your claim. The insurance company or defense lawyer for the driver at fault in causing the crash may use the treatment delay to question the severity of your injuries.
To prepare you in case of a car accident, here are five common mistakes folks make after a car accident that you should avoid.
Mistake #1: Delaying getting medical care
You may feel fine after an accident, but you could have severe and potentially life-threatening injuries. These may not produce symptoms for hours or days after a crash. Having a doctor examine to evaluate your medical condition immediately after an accident creates a record establishing the type and severity of the injuries and their connection to the car accident.
For example, occupants in a car struck from the rear by another vehicle may experience sudden head movements that cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull. The injury to the brain can cause traumatic brain injury with delayed symptoms that could include:
- Blurred vision
- Behavioral changes
- Impaired memory
Severe TBI symptoms may include weakness in the extremities, vomiting, slurred speech, and, in some instances, death. Delaying treatment could jeopardize your health and put your life at risk. It also allows an insurance company or defense lawyer to question whether a fall or other mishap after the accident was the cause of your injury.
Don’t refuse to go to the hospital by ambulance if paramedics examine you at the crash scene and recommend it. If you do go to the hospital, be sure to follow the instructions you receive when discharged.
Mistake #2: Failing to call the police
Always call the police to report an accident. If you are injured and cannot make the call, ask someone else at the scene to call for you.
Florida law requires that you call the police and report an accident when someone is injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident or when property damage exceeds $500. It is better to call law enforcement and let them decide whether to send someone to the scene, rather than trying to determine whether the law requires that you notify them.
When the police arrive at an accident scene, they prepare a written report containing the following information:
- Names and contact information of all drivers and occupants of the vehicles.
- Diagrams of the crash and the position of each vehicle.
- Names and contact information of witnesses.
Police reports sometimes include statements by witnesses and drivers about the accident. They also note traffic law violations and tickets written by the officers to drivers involved in the crash. Photographs of the accident scene may be included in an accident investigation report. These are used mainly when an accident causes serious injuries or fatalities.
A police report and the information it contains can be crucial evidence your personal injury attorney can use. This information can support your version of the cause of the accident. Calling the police shows that you had nothing to hide about the accident or the injuries that you suffered.
Mistake #3: Apologizing or admitting fault
It’s difficult to think clearly in the confusion and chaos of an accident scene. A rule to follow is to avoid making statements about the cause of the crash or the severity of injuries. A car crash occurs so quickly and unexpectedly. The drivers and occupants of the vehicles involved rarely understand what caused it.
Statements that people make immediately after an accident seem harmless at the time. Unfortunately, they can have serious consequences and prevent them from being fairly compensated for their injuries. For example, apologizing to another driver or saying you feel alright may sound innocent and harmless until an insurance company uses them as evidence that you were at least partially responsible for the crash or that your injuries were not as severe as you claim.
Florida law allows the driver you file a claim for damages against to produce evidence proving that you share responsibility for causing the accident and your injuries. Courts in the Sunshine State now follow a modified comparative negligence rule that denies compensation to an injured party found to be more than 50% at fault for their injuries.
If a person claiming compensation for injuries suffered in a car accident does not exceed the 50% threshold, their compensation is reduced by the percentage of their negligence. For example, a jury may determine that you incurred damages of $300,000 in a car crash, but you were 10% at fault. The compensation awarded to you will be $270,000 instead of the $300,000.
Mistake #4: Posting on social media
While your Tampa car accident attorney works gathering evidence to prove that someone’s negligence caused you to suffer injuries, the insurance company for the at-fault party looks for evidence to defeat your claim. A potential treasure trove of information about you can be found on social media.
Anything you post on social media can be captured and used as evidence to weaken or defeat your compensation claim. Photographs and posts on your social media pages can be quickly taken out of context when used as evidence in court.
For instance, if you claim to be unable to resume normal physical activities because of the injuries suffered in an accident, a defense lawyer may offer as evidence to the contrary a photo from social media of you posing with friends at a softball game. You may have been at the game as a spectator supporting your friends, but your attorney must find a way to disprove the implication that you were at the game as a player.
The best way to handle social media after a car accident is to avoid posting anything about the accident or your injuries. This includes responding to friends asking about your injuries. It’s best not to comment on a social media platform.
Mistake #5: Trying to handle the claim on your own without an attorney
Relying on a claims adjuster who works for the company insuring the at-fault party to look out for your interests and offer a fair settlement is a big mistake. The adjuster must look out for the insurance company’s interests and defend the driver or other party responsible for causing the car accident.
Avoid this and other mistakes people make after a car accident by contacting a Tampa accident attorney at KFB Law to arrange a free consultation. Let KFB Law show you the difference a Tampa personal injury lawyer can make for you.