9 Mistakes That Can Sink Your Car Accident Case
Avoid these post-accident mistakes at all costs
You’ve been in a car accident. Things are probably confusing right now. You may be injured or worried about how you will get to work without your car. You may be wondering what happens next and if everything will be ok.
While your health is the most important thing right now, the events following an accident unfold quickly and, if you’re not careful, you could do or say something that hurts your case and claim to compensation. After all, the auto insurance industry is big business and your health is not usually their biggest concern.
To help you avoid mistakes that could hurt your case, we’ve compiled a list of the most common ones. We’ve seen them all at McDivitt. From lies on accident reports to ill-timed Facebook posts, every decision you make following an accident can have severe repercussions. The worst of which could provide ammunition for an insurance company to wriggle out of paying.
Avoid the following to protect yourself and your car accident case.
People often lie on accident reports. Don’t be one of them. It not only prejudices your case, but it is fraud. Exaggerating your injuries even just a little bit is known as “soft” or opportunistic insurance fraud. If you are lucky, a fraudulent claim will only be denied. But it can lead to so much worse. You could lose any settlement or damages awarded, you could be forced to pay damages, and you might even lose your insurance policy permanently, making you uninsurable for the rest of your life. Oh, and there’s also the chance you face criminal charges for a fraudulent personal injury claim. So, always tell the truth. It’s that simple.
- Telling Different Versions of Your Story
It’s 2019. Cameras are seemingly everywhere nowadays. And insurance companies will often make use of any surveillance footage or other evidence they can find. You may think you can get away with saying the other driver ran a red light when they didn’t, but the chances are that at a busy intersection somebody caught it on their phone. Or there might be red-light cameras, which can explicitly reveal whether somebody ran a light or not. You need to keep your story straight. If you say one thing but video footage reveals another, you’ll end up in a pickle you don’t want to be in. So, write things down to help you remember them. And remember that the use of surveillance can go both ways. Photos and phone videos can easily jog your memory as to what really happened, and can also prove your correct version of the story.
- Posting on Social Media
Always be careful with what you post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It is standard practice for insurance adjusters and attorneys to look into your social media accounts to find things that could help their case and hurt yours. They can do this without your knowledge and permission, so always err on the side of caution when it comes to social media. Don’t write or share anything about your accidents or injuries.
- Talking About Your Case You should not talk about the case to the other driver, their insurance company, or their lawyer. Anything you say to them can give them ammunition if the case comes to court. And it is possible they will attempt baiting you into a response that you won’t want on record. In particular, avoid saying you are fine when they ask. Many injuries, such as whiplash, are not immediately noticeable and may take days after the accident to surface. In short, don’t volunteer any information about your injuries or damage to your vehicle that isn’t obvious.
- Not Seeking Treatment for Injuries
Speaking of whiplash, some injuries don’t reveal themselves immediately following an accident. Concussions and whiplash are the two most common, but there are others. By not seeking immediate medical attention, you not only put your health at risk, but you could also be putting your case at risk. If you don’t treat your injuries, an insurer or attorney can argue that you were not hurt. You are supposed to seek treatment within a reasonable amount of time, so going to your doctor as soon as you can is the best option, even if you think you are fine. Then be sure to follow your doctor’s orders appropriately, both to ensure that you recover and so your injuries are properly documented.
- Not Being Prepared for an Independent Medical Examination
Your insurer or the other driver’s might insist you have an independent medical examination. You will probably be required to have one if requested, but you should call your lawyer first. The examiner will be trying to minimize your injuries and, more often than not, will try to argue that you are not injured. They may also say the injuries were caused by something else. Your lawyer may be able to argue you out of the medical examination, but, if not, bring a friend with you to witness what happens with the exam.
- Signing Away Your Rights
Don’t sign anything without consulting your lawyer. There is a very high chance that the other driver’s insurer will try to get you to accept a quick settlement so that your case is closed before you even know the full extent of your injuries and damages. Bear in mind that if you do so, you will be signing a release saying you will not bring any additional claims. You should consult your lawyer before agreeing to a settlement, and make sure that it actually covers your losses. As medical damages and lost wages can take a while to calculate, it is never in your interest to agree to a settlement right away. Also, your insurer might not be happy with you for signing a waiver, as it prevents them from pursuing their own remedies against the driver. Some states require that you get your insurer’s permission, and if you don’t, then they may not give you your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Don’t sign anything until you have talked to your lawyer.
- Disposing of Evidence
You should not get rid of anything that is, or can be used as evidence. For example, if you use your phone to take pictures of the accident site, not only should you not delete those photos, but you should take appropriate steps to keep from losing them, such as backing them up right away to a computer or cloud storage. An experienced legal team can help you with this process. You should also keep your prescription receipts, medical records, the report from your mechanic on what needed to be done to fix your car, etc. Keep anything that might–even if just remotely–support your case. We’ve seen people discard things that would’ve otherwise helped them win their case. When in doubt, don’t throw it out.
- Not Communicating with Your Lawyer
Finally, some people fail to communicate properly with their lawyer. Make sure that your attorney can contact you when they need to, and make sure you communicate clearly with them. Your dialogue needs to be open and honest. The better your communication with your lawyer, the better your case.
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