If you have been in a car accident that is clearly someone else’s fault, you might think that collecting the insurance payout won’t be a problem. However, there are several mistakes that you can make that might limit the amount that you can collect or make you lose it entirely. Here are the five most common mistakes that people make when they have been in an accident: Admitting fault, leaving the scene, losing temper, not documenting the accident, and talking to the other party’s insurance. It is extremely important to follow proper procedure even if the case seams clean-cut. Read on to learn why you should never do these 5 things when seeking compensation after a traffic accident.
It may seem strange to say “don’t admit fault” when you are clearly not in the wrong, but many drivers accidentally say things in the heat of the moment that can be construed by an officer or witness as admission of fault. After an accident, emotions run high. It is easy to say something like, “I am so sorry, I didn’t see you,” or “It wasn’t your fault.” You may be just trying to be polite, but in the days of cell phones and recorders, blurting out something that implies fault can be used against you. So it is important to stay calm and avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as admission of fault or guilt. The best way to do this is to avoid saying anything beyond exchanging information.
Leaving the Scene
It is very important that you stay on the scene. Don’t attempt to leave for any reason. This might seem obvious, but car accident attorneys often see people tricked into doing this by the other party. The other person might tell you that all is well, and the entire thing can be forgotten. You pull away, thinking that everything is alright until you are notified that you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is criminal in most states, even if the accident is minor. You should call 911 and wait for the police to arrive, no matter what anyone else tells you. This is even true if you are at-fault; while you may be tempted to leave and avoid penalty, it is important to avoid leaving the scene until everything is sorted out.
Losing Your Temper
Be sure to keep a tight leash on your temper. A car accident is upsetting. It is natural to feel stressed, frightened, and angry after an accident, but take a few seconds to calm down before interacting with the other driver. Even if the accident was completely the other person’s fault, do not lose your cool and start yelling at them, threatening them, or accusing them. The best action is to call 911, remain calm, and make sure that anyone who was injured gets the help that they need. By keeping your cool, you will also be able to demonstrate that you behaved appropriately before and after the accident, which can help your case if it is brought to court.
Not Documenting the Accident
While this advice has been given in almost every article ever written about car accidents, it is so important that it bears repeating. Make sure you document the accident. The first thing that you should do once you know that everyone involved is uninjured and have called the police is to take pictures from every angle of the accident. Get the names and contact information of everyone at the scene. Also, write down as much information as you can remember at that time. This includes getting the information of witnesses who can corroborate your story. Taking the time to do this now will help you avoid pitfalls in the future.
Talk to the Other Party’s Insurance
You should not talk to the other person’s insurance before hiring an attorney for yourself. Agents are trained to trick you into giving away your rights. Car accident attorneys know how to handle insurance carriers, so you should leave it to them. Always contact an attorney and let them speak directly to the other party’s insurance carrier. This will help you avoid potentially saying something that the insurance can use to deny you coverage.
When you have been in an accident, you need to remain as calm as possible and avoid these mistakes. As soon as you get home, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.