5 Things You Should Avoid Doing After an Accident
California has some of the busiest roads and highways in the country. Aggressive, negligent, distracted and reckless drivers put Californians at risk of auto accidents every day. If you get into a car accident, it is important to know what to do and what not to do. Taking an incorrect action could hurt your injury claim. When in doubt, contact a car accident attorney for assistance at the very beginning of your case.
Evading the Police
Never flee the scene of an auto accident. Whether you were at fault or not, you could face a hit-and-run charge. This is a serious crime, especially if someone at the scene suffered an injury and you did not call for help. Stop immediately after an accident and park as close as you can to the scene. Call 911 and report the wreck if it caused $1,000 or more in property damages or personal injuries. Failing to call the police for a serious accident could also fulfill the definition of hit-and-run. It could also hurt your claim by failing to create an official police report documenting the accident.
At the scene of an accident and during insurance phone calls thereafter, do not admit fault for the car accident. Admitting fault could immediately end an investigation, even if you were not the only at-fault party. Many car accidents involve shared negligence from multiple drivers or third parties. You might think you caused the crash by texting and driving, for example, when in reality the other driver rolled through a stop sign.
Instead of admitting fault, wait for an investigation to identify who or what caused the wreck. Do not say you caused the accident or apologize to the other driver. Do not admit fault to the police or an insurance company. Doing so could hurt your chances of obtaining any compensation. California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning more than one party could share liability for an auto accident. Even if you were partially to blame, you could still be eligible for some compensation.
Delaying Medical Treatment
Do not wait to see a doctor after an auto accident, even if you think your injuries are minor. Delaying medical care could show an insurance company you did not have serious or painful injuries. It could also give the insurance provider a reason to blame you for the extent of your injuries. The insurer may allege that had seen a doctor right away, your injuries would not be as severe. Go to the hospital after a car accident and keep copies of your medical records, whether you have minor or severe injuries.
Accepting an Initial Settlement Offer
The insurance process can be daunting as the victim of a serious car accident. Your main goal may be to settle your claim and receive a benefits check as quickly as possible. This mentality, however, could result in accepting a settlement that is far less than the true value of your case. An insurance company will often give a low initial offer to see if the claimant knows the value of his or her claim. Instead of saying yes to a first offer, explain that you will be speaking to an attorney before accepting a settlement. Wait to give a recorded statement until you have spoken to a lawyer as well.
Handling a Claim Alone
If a car accident caused serious, life-changing injuries, work with an attorney to settle your claim. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to get you to settle for as little as possible. Hiring an attorney can immediately force the insurer to treat your claim more fairly. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate a better settlement on your behalf, or else take your case to trial. Attempting to handle your high-value car accident case alone could expose you to the risk of an insurance corporation taking advantage of you. Hire a personal injury lawyer instead for a stronger injury claim.