If you are suffering from a personal injury from a car accident you have a lot to gain by hiring a car accident lawyer. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that it costs nothing to hire a personal injury lawyer for your car accident case (you pay a percentage of the settlement) and that you are likely to get a settlement several times bigger by hiring an attorney. Even those who do hire a car accident lawyer can make mistakes that sabotage the case.
Top 5 ways to screw up your car accident case
- Not calling the police at the sight of the accident
After checking to see that everyone is alright and out of immediate danger, a person can screw up their car accident case by failing to call the police to the scene. Whether in a store parking lot or on a highway; no matter how big or small the accident or how trustworthy the other party seems, the police should be called. People tend to be more honest at the scene as they may be in shock and haven’t had time to process the trouble they may be facing. A police officer will file a police report that documents the facts and statements about the accident and the scene before memories become fuzzy or the driver who caused the accident has a chance to sober up or change their side of the story. A police officer will also conduct interviews with any witnesses present at the scene. These accounts can be vital in deciding fault and winning the case.
- Failing to take pictures and exchange information with the other driver
The only chance that you will have to take pictures of the crash scene and exchange information with the other driver is right after the accident. Take pictures of the damage done to both vehicles, skid marks, debris left on the road or property damage from the accident. Get the other car’s license plate number, the name of the driver’s car insurance agency and their driver’s license number. Be prepared to provide this information to the other driver as well. Pictures of the damage may be vital to proving your car accident case.
- Giving a statement to the at-fault insurance agency
The at-fault insurance agency will contact you as soon as they receive the claim from their client. They always seem friendly and helpful but they are really trying to get information from you that can get them out of paying a claim or reduce the amount of the settlement. They will use tactics aimed at getting you to say something that will hurt your case by showing that their client is not responsible or at least that they are not fully responsible for the accident. It is much smarter not to speak with the at-fault insurance agency or at least to consult a car accident attorney before doing so.
- Failing to seek medical treatment
Some people want to act tough and pretend that they aren’t in pain or don’t need medical attention after a car accident. The best thing you can do is to seek medical treatment for any aches and pains that you have incurred from the accident. If you fail to seek this care right away you may not only be jeopardizing your health but will be missing an opportunity to have the at-fault insurance agency compensate you for this treatment. They may also try to claim that you really weren’t hurt at all since you didn’t seek care.
Most car insurance policies have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) built in to the policy in the range of $3,000. This protection covers a certain amount of medical care after a car accident and sometimes even lost wages. Therefore, most people do not have an excuse to avoid medical care after an accident. It is important to note, however, that in some cases PIP coverage will run out while the injured party still needs more medical care. Since the at-fault insurance agency only makes one payment at the end of the claim, the victim must front the ongoing medical expenses outside of PIP. Since it is vital that medical care continue in order to establish that the care was necessary for the full recovery of the injured party, receiving a lien from a personal injury attorney can be very helpful. The lien is an agreement made between your lawyer and your medical professionals that states that when a settlement is reached the medical bills will be paid before the patient will receive any money from the claim.
- Posting to social media
This is the age of social media. We tend to post every dramatic thing that happens to us and that can include being involved in a car accident. Some people make the error of making statements about what happened or bashing the person who caused the accident or the at-fault insurance company. This information can be used against you. Be careful not to post pictures of yourself after the accident doing something active that makes it seem like you are not injured or in pain. Insurance agencies will try to use these pictures against you and juries may be swayed against your case.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the justice and compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!