Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
8 Common Errors That Can Affect Your Right to Compensation
No one expects to be involved in a car accident, particularly one with serious injuries. The moments after a sudden collision can be confusing and overwhelming. Still, the things you say and the actions you take can directly affect your ability to recover compensation from an at-fault driver.
At Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP, we are experienced trial lawyers dedicated to obtaining the maximum compensation for injured parties in Los Angeles. Our legal team has recovered millions on behalf of our clients, including multiple 7-figure settlements for car accident victims. If you have been injured in a crash, contact our office at (219) 513-5614 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Avoid these mistakes after a car accident to ensure a full recovery:
1. Not Contacting 9-1-1 From the Scene
Under the California Vehicle Code (Sections 20000 – 20018), the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injuries or death is required to make a report to law enforcement. After a collision, you should immediately check for injuries to yourself and others.
If anyone is injured, contact 9-1-1 from the scene. The dispatcher will send emergency medical personnel to transport injured parties. Failing to contact law enforcement could delay or prevent your recovery. A police report is often a critical piece of evidence in car accident claims. An officer can also act as a neutral party in case the other driver is combative or hostile at the scene.
2. Not Seeking Medical Treatment
After a car accident, you should be seen by a medical professional even if you do not believe that you are severely injured. Your body may be in shock from the impact and unable to ascertain the true extent of your injuries. Do not underestimate pain and soreness. These could be signs of a serious condition.
It is in your best interest to contact 9-1-1 immediately after the accident and inform the dispatcher of the injuries. An emergency medical technician can do a quick assessment to determine if you should be transported to the hospital. Even if you are not taken to the hospital in an ambulance, you still need to be checked out by a doctor.
Injuries can worsen over time, and if you do not seek medical treatment, it can directly impact your compensation. An insurance company may use your failure to seek treatment to downplay your injuries or deny them altogether.
3. Admitting Fault
It is not your job to determine fault, and you should not make statements to the other parties involved in the accident. What you say after an accident can hurt your right to financial recovery.
After the accident:
- Check for injuries of yourself and others;
- Contact 911 if there are any injuries;
- If you are able, move your car to safety;
- Do not make any statements (or apologize) to the other party; and
- Wait for law enforcement to arrive.
You can and should obtain the insurance information of the involved parties and contact information for any witnesses. The officer who arrives on the scene will also collect this information for their report. Take pictures at the scene to provide to your attorney and an insurance adjuster once you file a claim.
4. Delaying Treatment and Care
A lapse in medical treatment can impact the settlement that you receive. Just like you should immediately be seen by a doctor for any injuries, you need to continue treatment. The insurance company may use a failure to continue treatment to deny the severity of your injuries.
If you are diagnosed with a health condition, always follow the treating physician’s recommendations. Delaying treatment can make your condition worse, leading to long-term complications. Compensation in a car accident case may include money to cover your current medical bills as well as for future care and treatment.
5. Waiting to File a Claim
Under California law, you only have a limited amount of time to file a claim for damages based on personal injury. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury.
While two years may seem like ample time, gathering evidence, obtaining witness statements, and negotiations can take months. You should contact an attorney immediately after the accident to ensure that all legal and statutory deadlines are met.
6. Accepting the First Settlement Offer
The biggest mistake most injured parties make is accepting the first settlement offer from an insurance company. Early settlement offers are generally for significantly less than the case is worth.
An insurance company may try to convince you that your injuries are not that serious or that you were partially to blame for the accident. Their goal is to get you to settle for the least amount of money possible. Never accept a settlement offer without having an attorney review your case.
7. Signing a Release of Claims
If you accept a settlement offer, the insurance company will have you sign a release of claims absolving them and their insured from additional liability. By signing a release of claims, you give up your right to pursue further compensation, even if it is discovered later that your injuries were more severe than initially thought.
Never sign anything from an insurance company or negligent party without having it reviewed by an attorney. You are likely giving up certain legal rights by signing the document.
8. Not Hiring an Attorney
Finally, the only way to ensure that you are receiving the maximum compensation allowed by law is by retaining an experienced lawyer. Not hiring an attorney will directly impact your financial recovery.
Injured in a Car Accident? Contact Our Office Today!
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident or other traffic collision, such as a truck or bus accident, contact our office at (219) 513-5614 for a free consultation. Our lawyers will help you build a robust and strategic case against any negligent parties and fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Call today to get started.