Getting into a car accident can have a huge impact on a person’s life. Not only could they lose their primary form of transportation, but they may walk away with a permanent injury that lowers their quality of life. It’s only fair that the other party provides some kind of compensation when the fault lies with them.
However, many people are unaware of how to navigate the claim filing process or what kind of payout to expect. They may make mistakes, like not calling a car accident lawyer or accepting the first offer that comes their way.
Here are eight car accident claim mistakes to avoid if you want to get your compensation.
1. Didn’t Call the Police
The very first thing you should do after an accident is call the local authorities. You need the incident to be on some kind of official report, as it will be used as evidence in a personal injury claim.
Without a police report, the other party can always claim that they were nowhere near your vehicle when it got damaged. They could also try to claim that their vehicle was stolen or that they were not the ones driving.
The police report can help indicate who was at fault for the collision, regardless of what the other party may be saying after the fact. More importantly, the police report can help verify any details and provides a documented account of what happened from the day of the accident.
2. Skipped the Hospital Visit
After everything has been settled at the site of the accident, you’ll want to visit the hospital to get checked out. Because of adrenaline you may feel ok at the time of the accident, but you may have injuries that need attention. It’s not uncommon for injuries to pop up days after an accident.
It is always important to seek out the proper medical care immediately.
First, it provides an accurate diagnosis of your injuries. Second, delaying care suggests that your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim they are. It may also give off the impression that you’re faking the injury.
3. Failed to Gather Important Car Accident Claim Documents
Before you leave the scene of the accident, it’s important to gather as much information as possible. That includes photos of the vehicles involved in the accident, noting the location of the accident, and getting insurance information from the other driver.
In addition, you’ll want to get documentation from the local authorities and the hospital or doctor.
The police report shows that you called the authorities as soon as you could. They’ll have written down everything they saw at the accident site, which can help verify your claim. You can also request a collision report online which will have more information than the police report.
Your medical records are essential if you’ve suffered any kind of injury. The time of your visit shows that you sought medical attention as soon as you could, and the records verify that your injuries are real.
4. Not Calling a Car Accident Lawyer ASAP
Once you’re back at home, you need to figure out how you want to proceed. Even if the damages were minor and no one was hurt, there is no guarantee the claim will go smoothly.
Things also get trickier with substantial damage and significant injury to one or both parties. In this case, you’ll want to call a car accident lawyer when you get a chance.
An attorney can help inform you of how to proceed, depending on what happens with your claim. You can ask them questions like how long the case will take, what documents you need, and what the next steps would look like.
5. Speaking to the Other Party Unrepresented
It’s normal and expected to exchange information immediately after a car accident. However, you generally want to avoid speaking to them without some kind of representation. You want to make sure you speak to your car accident lawyer first.
If you have a car accident lawyer, no one from the insurance company should be reaching out to you directly. If the defense reaches out to you directly, don’t respond to them and immediately notify your attorney.
6. Accepting the First Insurance Payout Offer
You should expect some kind of call from the other driver’s insurance company after an accident. It’s not uncommon for them to offer some kind of payout before you’ve even filed a claim.
However, you’ll want to talk to your accident attorney before accepting any kind of compensation. There’s a good chance that you’re owed more compensation than what they are offering in the beginning. Accepting an early offer may mean not getting enough money to cover all your damages, such as medical bills and lost income.
7. Posting on Social Media
People love to post everything about their lives on social media. The problem with doing so is that everything posted publicly on social media is admissible in court. What that means is you need to be very careful what you say or post on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
For example, uploading a picture of yourself drinking at a club right after an accident can suggest that your injury was exaggerated. The opposition could even look through your social media history to see if the injury you’ve sustained existed prior to the accident.
8. Missing the Claim Filing Deadline
One of the biggest car accident claim mistakes you can make is taking too long to file. The statute of limitations sets a time restriction on how long after an event you can submit a legal claim. This time limit differs between states.
In South Carolina, the car accident statute of limitations is generally three years from the date of the collision. However, this time limit could be shortened depending on different factors. It is important to immediately contact an accident attorney to ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner.
Avoid Car Accident Claim Mistakes
It’s difficult to know and gather all the information you need after a serious accident. It’s easy to make car accident claim mistakes without even knowing it, especially if you’ve never gone through the process before. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to a car accident lawyer for help.
Sentinel Law Firm handles a wide range of legal matters, including personal injury car accident cases. We offer in-person or virtual consultations, legal guidance through this difficult time, and ensure that you receive the legal protection you deserve. Contact us to schedule an appointment and learn more.