Car accidents are increasing across the United States. The preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that motor vehicle accident fatalities hit a 16-year high in 2021. There are approximately six million accidents reported nationwide each year. Nearly one-quarter of all traffic collisions result in an injury.
Following an automobile crash, you need to know how to protect your rights and interests. It is crucial that you have a skilled car accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale on your side. Too many people make avoidable mistakes after a crash and inadvertently undermine their own claims. Here, you will find an overview of six of the top mistakes victims can make after a motor vehicle collision and how to avoid them.
Avoid These Six Mistakes After a Car Accident
Mistake #1: Failing to Seek Immediate Medical Attention for Your Injuries
Failing to seek medical attention after a car accident can lead to serious health problems and long-term damage. Ignoring symptoms or assuming they will go away can result in missed diagnoses and missed opportunities for early treatment. Further, without seeing a doctor, you will not be in a position to get compensation through a car accident injury claim.
How to Avoid it: Get immediate medical attention after a car accident. Severe injuries require emergency care. Non-emergencies should still be evaluated. Follow-up care is a must.
Mistake #2: Not Reporting the Crash to Law Enforcement
Not reporting a car accident to law enforcement can have serious consequences. Failure to report can result in hit-and-run charges and penalties. Accurate documentation by law enforcement can also provide valuable evidence in insurance claims and legal proceedings. In most states, including Florida, all injury crashes must be reported. It is in your best interests to comply with the law. The police report is a valuable form of evidence in a personal injury claim.
How to Avoid it: Call state or local law enforcement immediately after a crash. Do not delay. It is best to report a crash while you are still at the scene. An officer can help control things and draft a crash report.
Mistake #3: Not Sufficiently Documenting the Collision (Photos, Witness Contact Info, etc.)
Most serious car accident injury claims are based on fault. Even with no-fault claims, evidence is still essential. Not documenting a car accident properly can negatively impact insurance claims and legal proceedings. Photos and witness contact information can provide valuable evidence for determining fault and assessing damages. Without proper documentation, insurance companies and legal entities may have difficulty determining what happened and who is responsible.
How to Avoid it: Be sure to proactively document the scene of an accident. The more evidence you have regarding what happened and why, the better position you will be in to bring a claim.
Mistake #4: Providing a Statement to an Insurance Company Without a Lawyer
Insurance companies are not on your side after a car accident. They want to resolve their liability for less—perhaps even denying compensation outright. Providing a statement to an insurance company without the guidance of a lawyer can be a mistake. Insurance companies may use a policyholder’s statement to deny or reduce a claim, even if the statement is taken out of context or misunderstood. An attorney can help ensure that a policyholder’s rights are protected and that their statement is used in a way that supports their claim.
How to Avoid it: Be extremely careful in dealings with insurance companies. You have the right to take your time to recover from an accident. You can—and should—deal with insurance adjusters directly through an attorney.
Mistake #5: Blindly Accepting the First Settlement Offer
Blindly accepting the first settlement offer from an insurance company can be a mistake. The first offer is often less than what a policyholder is entitled to and may not cover all of their damages. If you were involved in a serious car crash that was not your fault, you might be entitled to financial compensation for the full value of your economic and non-economic losses.
How to Avoid it: Be patient. An insurance company is unlikely to lead with its best and final offer in a serious accident case. Make sure you understand the full scope of your damages.
Mistake #6: Waiting too Long to Consult With a Car Accident Attorney
Waiting too long to consult with a car accident attorney can harm a policyholder’s chances of receiving fair compensation for their damages. Time-sensitive evidence can disappear, witnesses may forget details, and insurance companies may try to exploit an injured victim’s lack of representation. An experienced car accident attorney will help you navigate the complexities of the law and the legal claims process.
How to Avoid it: Consult with an experienced local car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. Most car accident attorneys provide free, no-obligation consultations. The more quickly you speak to a personal injury attorney, the better your chances for a full and fair final recovery.