After a stressful and potentially life-threatening auto accident, it is easy to act without thinking or take seemingly minor actions that can actually hurt your chances to obtain full compensation for your injury and losses. Here are some common mistakes to avoid with your auto injury claim:
1. Not Calling Law Enforcement and the Insurance Company To Report The Accident
The other driver may try to talk you into not reporting the accident (particularly if they are at fault). It is extremely important to have an official record of the event. People are also much less likely to give false information to law enforcement. Report the accident to your insurance company and the other driver’s company as well – don’t rely on him or her to do it. If they don’t get the information in a timely manner, they may try to deny your claim.
2. Not Seeking Medical Attention As Soon As Possible
After a traffic accident, you may not feel like you are injured. However, it is a big mistake to delay seeking medical treatment. Do not see if you can “tough it out” or “walk it off”. Some injuries, such as nerve damage, may take hours or days to develop. It is always best to obtain a medical professional’s evaluation and create a medical history immediately after an accident. If you do not, and you start hurting a week later, the insurance company may use that delay to dispute the cause of your injury. Also, be sure to follow any recommended treatment – do not skip appointments or delay procedures. The insurance company may then claim you are not as injured as you say you are and reduce the value of your auto injury claim.
3. Not Taking Pictures Of The Accident Scene
If possible, take pictures of the damage to all vehicles and wider views of the entire area that show vehicle placement and road conditions at the time. Photograph yourself to show how you looked immediately after the accident. If you are unable to do this, make sure to request that law enforcement handle it. Georgia State Patrol and other experienced officers are trained to properly photograph an accident scene. If it is a small town agency or a possibly less experienced officer, be sure to ask them to take photos.
4. Not Getting Contact Information Of All Parties Involved, Including Witnesses
It is vital to get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the other driver(s) and as many witnesses as possible. If there is not a police officer available to do it, be sure to write down all information on (or take a picture of) the other driver’s license and current insurance card. Make sure to get their policy number and the name of the policy holder (it may not be the driver). If the other driver is in a business vehicle, ask if they have a commercial driver’s license number and get their employer’s contact information as well. If a police officer is filling out a report, make sure he or she is getting all of it.
5. Talking To The Other Party’s Insurance Company
After an accident, you will most likely be contacted by an insurance company representative. They may try to engage you in casual conversation about how you are doing. Be very careful in what you say to them. It is normal for people to answer such questions with “I’m doing alright” or “it’s not too bad”. They will use these types of statements to downgrade or deny your auto injury claim. It is okay to give them the facts of the accident, such as time and place and your contact information, but it is in your best interest to have an experienced auto accident lawyer representing you and refer them to your attorney for more detailed information and any settlement offers.
6. Trying To Handle It Yourself
The insurance companies handle accident claims every day. You, most likely, do not. They will take advantage of your lack of experience with the process if they can. No matter what the circumstances of your injury, their job is to figure out how to pay out as little as possible on a claim. An experienced auto injury attorney can help you avoid the traps and pitfalls that can reduce the amount of compensation you receive or even eliminate your claim altogether. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, contact Michael Fulcher Law today for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.