Getting into a car accident can have a huge impact on a person’s life. Not only could they lose their primary form of transportation, but they may walk away with a permanent injury that lowers their quality of life. It’s only fair that the other party provides some kind of compensation when the fault lies with them.
However, many people are unaware of how to navigate the claim filing process or what kind of payout to expect. They may make mistakes, like not calling a car accident lawyer or accepting the first offer that comes their way.
Here are eight car accident claim mistakes to avoid if you want to get your compensation.
1. Didn’t Call the Police
The very first thing you should do after an accident is call the local authorities. You need the incident to be on some kind of official report, as it will be used as evidence in a personal injury claim.
Without a police report, the other party can always claim that they were nowhere near your vehicle when it got damaged. This may prove effective for them if your vehicle sustained significantly more damage than theirs did.
Even if you don’t pursue a lawsuit, the police report can help you file an insurance claim and have the at-fault party’s insurance pay for the property damages. Also, the police report can help verify any details and keep both drivers from making mistakes or telling lies.
2. Skipped the Hospital Visit
After everything has been settled at the site of the accident, you’ll want to visit the hospital to get checked out. Regardless of how you feel at the time, you may have internal damage or bleeding that needs attention. It’s not uncommon for injuries to manifest up days after an accident.
Going to the doctor right after an accident has benefits for your claim, as well.
First, it provides an accurate diagnosis of your injuries, which may increase your owed compensation. Second, by not delaying care, it shows to all the rest that your injuries are severe as you claim they are. It may also dispel any impressions or suggestions that you’re faking the injury.
3. Failed to Gather Car Accident Claim Documents
Before you leave the scene of the accident, it’s important to gather as much information as possible. That includes taking photos of the vehicles from different angles, noting the location of the accident, and getting insurance information from the other driver. Also, if there are any eyewitnesses, writing down their contact information. That can be very helpful down the road.
In addition, you’ll want to get documentation from the local authorities and the hospital or doctor.
The police report shows that you called the authorities as soon as you could. They’ll have written down everything they saw at the accident site, which can help verify your claim. You can also request a collision report online which will have more information than the police report.
Your medical records are essential if you’ve suffered any kind of injury. The time of your visit shows that you sought medical attention as soon as you could, and the records verify that your injuries are real.
4. Not Calling a Car Accident Lawyer ASAP
Once you’re back at home, you need to figure out how you want to proceed. If the damages were minor and no one was hurt, you can generally trust that the insurance claim will go through without issue.
However, things get trickier with substantial damage and significant injury to one or both parties. In this case, you’ll want to call a car accident lawyer when you get a chance.
An attorney can help inform you of how to proceed, depending on what happens with your claim. You can ask them questions like how long the case will take, what documents you need, and how you can improve upon it.
In a worst-case scenario, a lawyer can fight for you when the insurance company refuses to pay for your damages resulting from the your car accident case.
5. Speaking to the Other Party Unrepresented
It’s normal and expected to exchange information immediately after a car accident. However, you generally want to avoid speaking to them without some kind of representation. You want to talk to a car accident lawyer before deciding to speak with the insurance companies.
If the defense reaches out to your personal number, don’t respond until you’re with your attorney. Run everything by them before you send over any documents or evidence.
6. Accepting the First Insurance Payout Offer
You should expect some kind of call from the other driver’s insurance company after an accident. It’s not uncommon for them to offer some kind of payout before you’ve even filed a claim.
However, you’ll want to talk to your attorney before accepting any kind of compensation. There’s a good chance that you’re owed more compensation than you thought. Accepting an early offer may mean not getting enough money to cover medical bills and lost income.
7. Posting on Social Media
People love to post everything about their lives on social media. The problem with doing so is that everything posted publicly on social media is admissible in court. What that means is you need to be very careful what you say or post on websites such as Facebook or Twitter.
For example, uploading a picture of yourself drinking at a club right after an accident can suggest that your injury was exaggerated. The opposition may even look through your social media history to see if the injury you’ve sustained existed prior to the accident.
8. Missing the Claim Filing Deadline
One of the biggest car accident claim mistake you can make is taking too long to file. The statute of limitations sets a time restriction on how long after an event you can submit a legal claim. This time limit differs between states.
In South Carolina, most of the car accident cases have a statute of limitations of about three years after the collision. After that, your case is likely to be dismissed. However, you should speak with an attorney because each case has different facts which may impact how much time you have to file a lawsuit.
Additionally, taking too long to file a claim shows a lack of urgency and works against your case.
Avoid Car Accident Claim Mistakes
It’s not easy to think rationally and gather all the information you need after a serious accident. You may make car accident claim mistake, especially if you’ve never gone through the process before. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to a car accident lawyer for help.
The Dejeu Law Firm handles car accident cases along with other personal injury types of cases. We offer a free case evaluation, provide legal strategies, and represent you in your legal proceedings. Contact us to schedule an appointment and learn more.