Car accidents can leave victims shaken, confused or in shock. Despite having just gone through an incredibly jarring experience, crash victims must be particularly careful of what they say and do after an accident, as their behavior will be thoroughly dissected by insurance adjusters and defense attorneys. Learning what not to do after a Delaware car accident can help car crash victims avoid common mistakes that could damage their personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. Let's review 10 common mistakes you should avoid after a car accident.
1. Not Involving the Police
First on the list of what not to do after a car accident is deciding to leave the police out of it. Failing to call the police creates problems from the very start. For one, not contacting the police suggests that the accident was not serious enough to involve law enforcement. It also means your insurance company and lawyer won't have an official accident report from the police. Though this report can't be used in court to prove liability, it can provide a victim's attorney with valuable information.
2. Leaving Before Law Enforcement Arrives
It's critical that you stay at the scene of the accident until matters have been resolved enough for both you and the other driver to part ways. This means waiting for law enforcement to arrive so they can evaluate the situation. If you leave before police get there, you could be accused of a hit and run, particularly if the other driver has been injured.
3. Saying Things to the Police or Insurance Company You Regret
It can be easy to get caught up in the stress of experiencing a car accident and say some things to police or to your insurance company that you later regret — especially things that could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Even apologizing for the inconvenience can be taken as an admission of liability. Keep your conversation with police to a minimal, and don't provide a statement about the crash to the other's driver's insurance company since it could be misconstrued to help the other driver's case.
4. Not Gathering Enough Details or Evidence
When you're in a car accident, you need to capture as much evidence as possible. This includes photos and videos of the scene of the crash, pictures of your vehicle's damage, records of medical treatments and receipts for automotive repairs. You want to have as much objective information as possible to avoid a he-said-she-said situation with nothing to back up your account of the crash and its effects.
5. Delaying or Downplaying Medical Attention
When you're injured in a car accident in Delaware, you need to seek medical attention right away to ensure your injuries are documented. Even if you don't notice any immediate issues, having the car accident documented in your doctor's medical records can make it easier to connect late-appearing injuries to the crash. Also, be sure to adhere to the treatment plan your doctor recommends so you can demonstrate that you take your injuries seriously and are doing everything you can to recover.
6. Posting Too Much Information on Social Media
Your first reaction after getting in a car accident may be to post about it on social media. It's fine to let people know you've been in a crash and that you're still here to tell the tale, but you should choose your words carefully when telling your friends or followers about the crash or your injuries. If you post anything that appears to downplay the event or your injuries, this could be used against you in court. If you really want to help a personal injury claim, just stay off of social media temporarily.
7. Waiting Too Long to Contact Your Insurance Company
While you should avoid talking to the other driver's insurance company, you should place a high priority on talking to your insurance agent. Most insurance policies require policyholders to inform the company of an accident as soon as possible. Reporting an accident doesn't equate to filing a claim, but if you put it off too long, you could risk having your claim denied later, so don't delay this important task.
8. Settling for Too Little
Another common mistake Delaware drivers make after a crash is settling too quickly with the insurance company. You should never accept a personal injury settlement without first consulting an attorney. This is true in Delaware and in every other state. This is because insurance companies will typically try to get victims to settle for less than what they deserve. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help crash victims evaluate settlement offers to determine if they meet their needs. In most cases, the first offer won't cut it.
9. Not Calling a Lawyer
Getting into an accident is a stressful enough event to have to go through. When you try to navigate the process of dealing with insurance companies, the other driver and possibly the other driver's attorney, this can add to your stress. After all, this is a complicated process you likely haven't had to deal with before. An auto accident lawyer, on the other hand, can help you work through the process of what to do after a car accident in Delaware so you can get the compensation you're entitled to.
10. Not Being Honest or Omitting Details to Your Lawyer
For your lawyer to help you navigate the process effectively, you need to be open and honest with them about the details of your crash. Whereas you need to choose your words carefully and omit details with other parties, you can — and should — be more candid with your lawyer. The more details they have to work with, the more they will be able to give you the personalized advice you need and the more effectively they can represent you in court.
Consult Experienced Delaware Auto Accident Lawyers
If you were hurt in a car accident caused by someone else's negligence, contact the Wilmington, Delaware, car crash attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group. Our auto accident lawyers have the expertise to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case with a member of our legal team.
Going through a car accident can be harrowing, but dealing with the aftermath doesn't have to be. Our lawyers can help you through every stage of the process so you avoid all the mistakes above and more.