It can be easy to ignore reality in the aftermath of a car accident, but that doesn't mean you should. It is important to have a basic understanding of what you shouldn't do immediately after, as well as the months following the accident. This ensures the best outcomes possible for you. In this week's blog, we'll discuss the dos and don'ts after a car accident.
If you have been in a car accident and need a lawyer who will fight for you, give us a call or text today at 602-345-1818. Our initial consultations are always free for our clients.
1. Don't Leave the Scene
Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal. This is true regardless of who is at fault. All traffic accidents should be reported to law enforcement as soon as possible. Stay in or near your vehicle until the authorities arrive. If you need to move your vehicle to a safer nearby location, then you should do so with caution to avoid causing additional accidents. For more FAQs visit our blog.
2. Don't Admit Fault
Avoid apologizing, or admitting fault. Saying a simple,” I'm sorry,” can be perceived as an admission of fault. If you have a habit of talking too much or going into too much detail when you're nervous be very cautious with your words. Anything you say can be used against you by the insurance companies. It can be difficult for involved parties to ultimately determine who is at fault. Also, it's not your job! Often it is revealed that the other driver is more responsible for the accident than you may have initially thought. Don't rush to accept blame; it could make it harder to get the money that you may otherwise be entitled.
3. Don't Fail to Gather Evidence
While waiting for the responding officers to arrive on the scene gather all of the information and photos you need. When the officers arrive they will want to open roadways quickly, so it is crucial to take action and compile this information as swiftly and safely as possible. Gather as much information as you can even if you think it might not be needed.
Listed below are steps to take when gathering information:
- Find witnesses and write their names and contact information down after you ask for their statement. It is best to ask witnesses for a statement as soon as possible after the accident. The witnesses can leave at any given time, and the most accurate description of how the accident occurred can only be given while it is fresh in their minds.
- Write down the other driver's name, insurance, and contact information. During this time, retrieve the other driver's names, driver's license numbers, license plate numbers, insurance company, and policy numbers. Remember not to admit fault while gathering information.
- Take pictures of the accident and any injuries. It is crucial to document as much as possible. This includes pictures of the scene. It is best to capture these at many different angles. Get several pictures of the scene standing far enough away to get both vehicles in the shot. Make sure you're standing in a safe location away from the flow of traffic.
- Get a copy of the accident report. You want copies of everything. It could be difficult to retrieve these days or months after the car accident has happened. Also, getting the badge number of the responding officer may be helpful.
- Begin a personal journal of the accident. Jot a few things down about the accident, such as, date and time, location, weather conditions, amount of traffic, the damage that occurred, and any injuries sustained.
4. Don't Overlook Any Injuries
See a doctor; even if you “feel fine.” An injury may not present itself until days after the accident. It is common to believe you are uninjured after sustaining an injury from a car accident because adrenaline can mask it. Playing it safe and visiting the doctor directly afterward could change the outcome of the injury. It is paramount that you seek medical attention within 48 hours following the car accident, or you risk losing compensation. Many insurance policies include deadlines to which you are required to seek medical attention for your injuries. Documentation of injuries may play a large role in your case.
5. Don't Post About the Accident on Social Media
Choosing to share information about the accident could help insurance companies trying to build a case against you. It's a regular practice of insurance adjusters to use social media to spy on their claimants. Even sharing a post, or comment that you “feel much better” after an accident could result in an insurer arguing that your injuries aren't that serious. If you have an ongoing case it is best to disable your account or set it to private until the case has been resolved.
6. Don't Talk to the Other Side's Insurance Company
You might receive a call from the other driver's insurance company after the accident. Legally you aren't required to answer any of their questions. If the possibility of a claim for either side exists then you should have the insurance adjuster speak with your lawyer. On rare occasions, the other drivers may not have alerted their insurer about the accident. In most cases, your insurer will handle communication between the companies, but sometimes, especially in minor cases, this doesn't happen. It is always best to consult a lawyer about these situations.
7. Don't Avoid Your Insurance Company
You are obligated to alert your insurance company after an accident, but you should contact a lawyer first. Some companies have an app where you can make them aware without speaking to anyone directly. Use this time to consult with a car accident lawyer in Phoenix, AZ. They will be able to help you navigate through your next moves, and how you should conduct yourself moving forward. You should let the insurance company know about the accident as soon as possible, or it could negatively impact your case. For more information on communicating with insurance companies click here.
8. Don't Move Forward Without a Lawyer
Insurance companies will tell you that you don't need a lawyer. They are looking out for their own best interests when they're telling you this. Studies show that accident victims receive 3.5 times more compensation when they hire lawyers that fight for them. When people try to handle their own cases they frequently discover that they are in over their heads.
Even if you aren't looking into filing a lawsuit, having a lawyer negotiate with the insurance company can prove to be incredibly helpful. They're experienced in handling claims just like yours, and know how you need to proceed! They will help you gather and evaluate the evidence, and present it to the insurance adjuster, and if needed, in court, as well.
9. Don't Lie to Your Lawyer
Your lawyer needs to know all the details of your case to best assist you. If you are holding back information because it embarrasses you, or you think it would hurt your case, you are making a serious mistake. Your lawyer isn't there to judge you and has most likely heard something similar way before your case. The attorney on the case is going to spend weeks, or months, combing through the details of your case. If someone else finds the details you're hiding it could ruin your credibility and harm your case.
10. Don't Wait to Call a Car Accident Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ
There are deadlines, called statutes of limitations, that you need to be aware of. In Arizona, the deadline to file car accident claims is two years from the date of the accident. AZ Code § 12-542. In New Mexico, it is three years from the date of the accident. Evidence can vanish if you wait too long to hire an attorney. Additionally, witnesses may also forget the circumstances of the car accident.
It is understandable to feel overwhelmed following a car accident. Don't start this journey alone and in the dark. We want to help you. We will make sure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Call Impact Legal, car accident lawyers in Phoenix, AZ, today at 602-345-1818, or fill out this online form.