If you are the unfortunate victim of a car accident that wasn’t your fault, your life can get very complicated in a very short period of time. Immediately after the accident, you are probably worried about your injuries, potential injuries to your passenger or passengers, and the damage to your vehicle. All of a sudden, you find yourself with many things to think about, and a feeling of complete overwhelm.
Starting just after your accident, there are many things that need to be done. How you respond, and what you do after your accident will likely make the difference between you eventually obtaining adequate compensation for your injuries and property damage, or you ending up having to absorb all those costs yourself, which can be financially devastating.
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 ways you can ruin your car accident claim if you don’t take the proper actions from the very beginning.
Not asking for a police report is the number one way to damage your chances of obtaining proper compensation after the accident. If you call 911 after your accident, state that you would like to have a police officer present at the scene to do a police report. When the officer arrives, politely insist that a Traffic Collision Report be filled out. The observations and witness statements that this report will contain will be valuable evidence in favor of your claim.
It is better to err on the side of caution, and get yourself checked out in the ER after the accident. The reason for this is that many car accident injuries are not immediately apparent. Neck and back injuries are a prime example, as are psychological injuries that may not show up right away. If this happens to be the case with your accident and your injuries, not seeking immediate medical attention will make it appear as if your injuries are not as severe as they actually are.
Tell your doctor everything - no matter how small you feel a symptom, pain, or ache is. Let the doctor record each and every detail of your symptoms because, in this way, you have a record that can be used as evidence in your claim. That evidence will help you receive the full compensation that you deserve.
Here’s the thing about personal injury attorneys - they do not charge you money upfront. You pay them nothing unless you, through their representation, receive compensation for your injuries. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason you wouldn’t want to contact an attorney immediately, even if it is just to find out if you do have a legitimate case. The majority of personal injury attorneys will offer you a consultation absolutely free.
As much as we’d like to think that the friendly insurance adjuster on the other end of the telephone line has our best interests at heart, they absolutely do not. They are specially trained to obtain the information they need from you that can then be used to reduce your claim - or deny it completely. Never give a formal, recorded statement to any insurance company. Talk to an attorney first to make sure you don’t say the wrong things that could result in you receiving zero compensation.
The insurance company will likely recommend that you take your damaged vehicle to a specific body shop for repairs. This is because they get a discount on any new clients they send to that body shop. It also means that you may not get the true value of the cost of the repairs or replacement. Be smart, take your vehicle to several different places to get estimates, and then take your car to the shop that you feel is the best fit. This is your right.
If you were previously in an accident and sustained injuries that your current accident has aggravated, you may feel as if you can’t get compensation if you disclose that the injuries were not due to this accident. This is not true. Even if a previous accident caused the injury, if the current accident has made it worse, or made it present again, you can still receive just compensation. But you will receive no compensation if your attorney, doctor, or the insurance company find out you lied.
After your accident, you must stick with the treatment plan your doctor has set out for you. Skipping appointments with physical therapists or doctors makes it look like you are healed and don’t need treatment, even though you may still be in a lot of pain. Not only does keeping your appointments help you heal, but it also helps your claim, as well.
It is not uncommon after a car crash to still have to deal with back and neck pain, or other symptoms, for months or even years after the accident occurs. In fact, some people never fully recover 100%. If you do have pain from past injuries due to the accident, ask your doctor for an evaluation. You may be able to receive a documented permanent impairment rating, and that will increase your personal injury compensation.
It’s true that uninsured or underinsured coverage makes your insurance cost more per year. It’s true that it’s not required by law. But it’s also true that it is affordable, and you will see it’s worth if you are hit and injured by someone who doesn’t carry enough insurance, or has none at all. It may be the only insurance coverage you have in that situation and it will be worth it when you and your family are taken care of in the event that you can no longer work due to injuries from the accident.