After a car accident, especially if someone is injured, it's tough to know what to do. It’s easy to think you will remain calm and focused, however, an accident is a stressful situation. Sometimes, actions you take, or fail to take, can seriously impact your case in the future and make it much more difficult for your Kissimmee auto accident lawyer to ensure you get the settlement you deserve.
Mistake 1: Not Gathering Information
If you or someone else is seriously injured, it may not be possible to get detailed information at the scene. You should always consider safety to be the first priority. If you are able try to get as much information from the other driver as possible, including;
- Full name
- Driver's license number
- Telephone number
- Physical address
- Insurance information
- Vehicle make and model
- License plate number
Additionally, if there are any witnesses (including other occupants of the vehicle), you'll want their contact information. They may become valuable eyewitnesses later.
Mistake 2: Not Calling the Police
Especially if they have other accidents on their records, no insurance or license or warrants for their arrest, the other driver will often try to talk you out of calling the police. They may offer you money or promise to pay. Politely but firmly insist and make the call.
Not only may you be violating state laws that require you to do so if someone is injured or property damage exceeds a certain threshold, you may need a police report to make a claim on your insurance and it can be very helpful to have an officer's report of his or her observations if legal action becomes necessary.
Remember, too, that it's not uncommon for people to only become aware of how serious an injury really is several days or weeks after the accident. Even if you think everyone's fine and it's just a little dent, play it safe and call the police. Before the officer leaves, ask for their name, badge number, phone number and the police report number.
Mistake 3: Not Seeing a Doctor
If there's a serious or obvious injury, people will automatically call 911. But even if you just have a cut or soreness or stiffness, seeing a doctor is still a good idea. That stiff neck may really be whiplash. That cut on your head could be a visible clue to an invisible head injury.
If you have no cuts or soreness, it still may be a good idea to get examined by a physician to rule out underlying injuries. Make sure you tell them about the accident and what happened so they know what tests to run and what notes to make. Inform them of any complaints you may have at that time, even if they seem minor to you. Then follow all their advice and take all the medication they prescribe to avoid accusations that your failure to do so is what exacerbated the injury and that your claim is inflated. In states like Florida, where there are narrow windows in which to seek medical treatment, failing to seek medical attention shortly after the accident could prevent you from getting the full amount of your PIP coverage.
Mistake 4: Not Documenting Damage
Most people have their cell phones with them. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the locations of the vehicles and any damage. In addition to taking pictures of the damage to your vehicle, be sure to take pictures of the damage to the other vehicle(s) and any other property damaged. If wreckage is scattered, take pictures of that too.
Mistake 5: Talking Too Much to the Wrong People
You are required to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. They will gather general information and assign a claims adjuster. Make sure to take down the claim number assigned to your file. You are not obligated to speak to the insurance adjuster for the adverse vehicle (the person that caused the accident). It’s recommended that you speak with counsel before speaking to the insurance company for the other side. If you already have a lawyer, refer them to your attorney.
As hard is it may be, you also shouldn't talk to anyone but your doctor and attorney about the accident. Also, avoid posting anything about the accident or your activities on social media. Any comments you make about your activities or pictures you post could be used to contradict your claims of injury, even if they're just misinterpreted.
Mistake 6: Admitting fault
Do not admit fault of any kind. Even if you think you're at fault, it's best not to say so until all the evidence is in. Admissions of fault can negatively impact your claim in the future.
Mistake 7: Not Hiring an Attorney
If you are making a claim for personal injuries, it’s always best to consult with an expert. The whole process can be complex and daunting (and insurance companies aren't known for treating even their own customers fairly). An attorney can help ensure your rights are protected and your claim is being managed properly.
If you need a free, no-obligation consultation after being injured in a Florida car accident, contact the experienced Kissimmee car accident attorneys at Draper Law Offices at 866.767.4711.
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