10 Biggest Mistakes Made after a Car Accident
If you’ve never been involved in a car accident before, you may not know what steps to take to help protect yourself and your rights and options for pursuing financial compensation for any injuries and damages you have suffered. Below are a few of the most serious errors victims of car accidents have made following their crashes.
Assuming You Haven’t Been Injured
Many accident victims assume following their crash that they haven’t been seriously injured. However, the shock of an accident often leads to a rush of adrenaline that masks pain and other symptoms of injuries. As a result, accident victims may underestimate their injuries and fail to seek the proper medical treatment following their crash. But underestimating or downplaying your injuries can lead the insurance companies to try and claim that you weren’t actually injured by your accident or that your injuries aren’t as severe as you later claim.
Waiting Too Long to Assert Your Claim
New Jersey law imposes a time limit on filing a lawsuit to seek compensation for injuries and damages following a car accident. Wait too long to file suit and the court will almost certainly dismiss your case. Waiting too long to being your case can also have other negative effects, including losing important evidence to the passage of time or losing the right to file a claim with your own insurance company for coverages under your own policy — this can happen if you fail to notify your insurer because you assumed you weren’t at fault for the accident even though your policy requires you to notify your insurer of any accident you’ve been involved in.
Giving the Insurance Company a Statement
Insurance companies are concerned with their profits, not with making sure that you are compensated for your injuries and damages. Insurers will look for any angle to pay you less than the compensation you deserve, including using statements you’ve given to an adjuster against you. If you must contact the insurance company (such as notifying your insurer about your accident), just stick to the basic facts about the accident; don’t talk about blame or fault. If another driver’s insurance company asks you for a statement, politely decline and refer them to your attorney.
Not Calling the Police
In New Jersey, you are legally required to report accidents resulting in personal injury or property damage that appears to exceed $500 in value. Without filing a report or calling the police to the scene of the accident, you won’t have a police accident report; this report often serves as key evidence in a car accident claim and many insurers will deny claims due to the lack of a report.
Following an accident, it is human nature to want to offer an apology. Even if you think you were responsible for causing the accident, you should never admit fault to the other drivers involved, the police who respond to the scene, or insurance adjusters. In some cases, you may mistakenly believe you are at fault for the crash. Leave the determination of fault to the insurance companies and lawyers.
Not Documenting Evidence at the Accident Scene
Being involved in a serious car crash can leave you feeling dazed; you may forget to take photos or video of the accident scene or damage to the vehicles involved, or forget to collect the contact information or statements from any eyewitnesses to the accident or the contact and insurance information from each driver involved in the accident.
Accepting the First Settlement Offer
The insurance company may offer you a check soon after your accident; if you’re missing work due to injuries and have bills to pay, quick cash can seem very tempting. However, these quick settlements often will not cover the full extent of your damages and losses. Instead, you should wait until you know the full extent of your injuries and your prognosis so that you can more accurately estimate your damages for medical expenses, lost income from missed work, and pain and suffering.
Signing Documents from the Insurance Company
You should have an attorney review any documents sent to you by the insurance company, especially if the insurer is asking you to sign the document. An adjuster may be trying to get you to sign a release that cuts off their liability to you to pay compensation for your damages, or to sign an authorization form that allows them to dig through your medical records to try and find preexisting conditions they can point to for denying coverage.
Talking about Your Accident on Social Media
Insurance adjusters and defense lawyers may be monitoring your social media accounts for postings you make that contradict your official statements about the accident, such as a different account of the accident, or photos of yourself being active after you’ve claimed to have suffered debilitating injuries. These social media posts might be used to undercut your credibility and your claim.
Not Hiring a Lawyer
Although the insurance company may try to dissuade you from hiring a lawyer, that is because accident victims who are represented by legal counsel get more money in their claim than those who don’t have an attorney.
Contact a Atlantic City Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Brown Law represent clients injured because of car accidents in Egg Harbor, Galloway Township, Hamilton, Pleasantville, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 344-8270 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 3123 Atlantic Ave., #201, Atlantic City, NJ 08401.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.