Car accidents are serious incidents that can potentially impact your physical health, mental health, career, and finances. And, unfortunately, a few wrong moves early on in the process can compromise your outcome.
Let’s take a look at some of these mistakes so you can avoid a similar fate.
Car Accident Statistics and Data
According to DriverKnowledge.com, there are 6 million car accidents in the United States each year. These accidents result in 3 million injuries annually and approximately 90 deaths per day. An estimated 2 million drivers experience permanent injuries each year as a result of collisions.
While every car accident is unique, common causes of accidents resulting in deaths include alcohol (40 percent), speeding (30 percent), and reckless driving (33 percent). Distracted driving is another major factor in accidents involving injuries.
These statistics aren’t meant to scare you, but they should alert you to the fact that accidents have serious consequences. And if you ever find yourself involved in a car accident, it’s helpful to know what to do.
5 Mistakes to Avoid
A car accident is jarring. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small fender-bender or a serious accident, you’re going to feel rattled. The best thing you can do is actively focus on remaining poised. And part of being poised means avoiding mistakes such as these:
- Saying Too Much
It’s best to keep your mouth shut at the scene of the accident. You can certainly exchange pleasantries and be polite to people, but you don’t want to sit there and ramble on and on. And you definitely don’t want to apologize. Even if you think you’re just being kind, a simple “sorry” can be construed as an admission of guilt.
- Leaving the Scene
Leaving the scene of a car accident is a big mistake with serious ramifications. Not only will it compromise the accident and jeopardize any potential claim you might have received, but it could also carry additional charges and legal consequences.
By law, you are required to stay at the scene of the accident until either (a) both parties have agreed to leave or (b) law enforcement arrives and clears both parties to leave. If you leave without permission, it could be classified as a hit and run.
- Not Getting Care
Failing to get medical attention after a car accident is another big mistake. If you’re involved in an accident and don’t immediately notice any symptoms, you should still get checked out. The adrenaline from a car accident can mask pain and might prevent you from noticing an injury altogether. Unfortunately, this means your symptoms may not emerge until hours later. But by failing to get care right away, you could bring the legitimacy of your injuries into question.
- Failing to Hire an Attorney
Trying to handle a car accident claim on your own can be extremely stressful. And if there are both vehicle damages and injuries involved, good luck. You might as well quit your full-time job for a few weeks while you deal with phone calls, negotiations, insurance forms, medical bills, etc. Thankfully, you don’t have to.
Hiring an attorney is probably the best thing you can do after a car accident. Your attorney will help you get organized and negotiate with insurance companies. This almost always results in a much higher payout than you’d get on your own.
- Accepting the First Offer
Car insurance companies aren’t ATMs. They exist to make money. And one of the ways they keep their money is by minimizing what they pay out. Keep this in mind when you get a settlement offer.
“The first thing to know is that after any car accident, the insurance company’s first settlement offer is just that—the first of perhaps many,” Nolo mentions. “And it’s almost always going to be a low offer.”
Work with your attorney to handle the negotiations. The more patient you are, the more likely it is that you’ll see their offers start to inch up over time.
Putting it All Together
By making smart decisions in the immediate aftermath of a car accident, you can ensure the best possible outcome – physically, emotionally, legally, and financially. Remain patient and don’t make any rash decisions. If there are medical bills, insurance claims, and vehicle repairs involved, it may take weeks or months for things to get resolved.
Work closely with the parties involved, but know that it can take time for things to work out.