Top 5 Mistakes Made After an Auto Accident
By Joshua E. Rodgers (“Intern Josh”) and John M. Phillips
Through my many years of legal experience working for an insurance company, a large personal injury firm, and now my own personal firm, I have counseled many prospective clients involved in an auto accident. Here is a small list of mistakes by clients that attorneys see over and over again. No matter how careful you are, when you drive a car, it is likely you will be involved in at least one auto accident during your lifetime. It doesn’t have to be your fault. Remember, there are an extremely large amount of drivers on the roads, today. The best way to protect yourself and your passengers is to drive defensively and be aware of other driver’s behavior at all times. Being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience. It will serve you well to know a few of the most common mistakes made after an auto accident. Basically, we’ll tell you what NOT to do after being involved in an auto accident.
Here are the top five mistakes auto accident attorneys see on a regular basis:
1. Avoid speaking to your insurance company prior to speaking to an attorney.
Everyone always gives a statement! You do not have to provide a statement. Especially to the insurance company of the at fault driver. If you are questioned by the other party’s insurance company, refer them to the following:
- Your insurance company;
- Police Report (Don’t forget to have the police come to the scene!); and
- Attorney – If you have retained an Auto Accident Injury Attorney.
Remember! Insurance companies always want to avoid paying you what you, or any other claimant, monetary compensation to which you are legally entitled. It is always best not to say the wrong thing, which is easy to say as an attorney. Having litigated many auto accident injury claims during my legal career, I know what to say and what not to say. A simple word of advice, please do not say, “I’m sorry” to the other driver or his/her insurance company. Moreover, never admit to being at fault, or even partially at fault for causing the car accident. Many car accident claims become disputed because of a simple misstatement or overuse of the word ‘sorry’. The only insurance company that you should be talking to is your own, and in many cases, they will become adversarial depending on the specific facts of your auto accident. This is one of the many reasons it is best to contact an auto accident attorney before speaking to ANY insurance company.
2. Who caused the accident?
In the confusion and emotional fog after an auto accident, do not forget to identify the person who caused the accident. Write down the name, address, policy number and license number of the driver, as well as the plate number of the car involved. Also, record the names and contact numbers of the passengers. You will not be able to file for damages if you do not know who you’re filing against. This is very important information.
3. Contact the police to report the incident (You Want A Police Report)
If your property is damaged (car, truck, bicycle, motorcycle, etc.) you should always contact the legal authorities to request an official police report. Why? Because insurance companies always tend to subscribe to the opinions contained within a police report. Many times, the other driver will admit fault at the scene of an auto accident, only to later change their opinion as to who caused the accident.
Reasons People Change Their Story:
1.) Pressure: From family to deny responsibility. This is most common when the insurance policy was purchased by a family member (Parents Do Not Like High Insurance Premiums).
2.) Fear: Once the reality of causing a serious car accident sets in, fear will follow. Nobody wants to be financially responsible.
3.) Insurance: Insurance company’s do not want to pay claims. So they will often manipulate the facts in an effort to avoid paying valid claims.
Further, if you suffer bodily injury – no matter how minor you believe the injury to be – you must report the auto accident and your bodily injuries to the police. So, please call 911, even if you are involved in a minor auto accident. The police officer’s assessment of the situation is important and you will need the police report to assist with both proving fault and to confirm your complaint of injury at the scene. This will protect you from a possible auto accident claim from the other driver and will assist in protecting you from having the insurance company deny your claim for injuries.
4. Take a picture of the damages (Pictures and Videos Are Powerful Storytellers)
It is hard to contradict a photograph. After an auto accident, take photographs of the scene of the collision. Take pictures to demonstrate the damage each and every vehicle involved; especially the other vehicles, as it can become hard to locate vehicles after an accident injury collision. In some cases, it can help to take photographs of the other parties involved in the collision. ALWAYS document any and all visible injuries you or anyone in your vehicle sustained in the car accident. It is hard to prove your leg or face was bruised and swollen if there are no pictures.
5. Seek medical treatment? (Get Medical Treatment)
Make sure a qualified medical professional provides an assessment of the extent and serious of your injuries. This will form part of your documentation needed for your claim. Take note of the doctors who treated you, what procedures were done, and the medications you were prescribed. You will also need medical records and bill, which are always required by insurance companies when you file a claim. If you cannot obtain medical care, contact an auto accident attorney to assist you in obtaining medical treatment.
If you are involved in a auto accident and you or your loved ones were injured, it is in your best interest to contact a personal injury lawyer. You are entitled to make a claim for physical injury, reimbursement of medical expenses, mental distress, loss of income, and other damages sustained in the auto accident. A lawyer can assess and protect your legal rights to compensation. If there is a liability dispute (who’s at fault) to your claim, an attorney will have extensive knowledge of auto accident liabilities and will be able to litigate your case and fight for your legal rights. Attorneys also know specific state laws pertaining to legal responsibility in the event of an auto accident. They will help you identify who is really responsible for your injuries or losses – even those you haven’t thought about yet. In most instances, our office will not require payment from you unless we win your case. So, there is no need to worry about legal costs and consultations are FREE!!!
We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards, what clients have to say about us and to give us a call for a free consultation. Our lawyers will sit down with you personally. John represents clients in Florida, Georgia and Alabama with passion and compassion and is a Board Certified Expert in Civil Trial Law according to the Florida Bar.
If injury or trouble finds you, call us at 904-444-4444 .