You're stopped at a red light listening to the radio and thinking about your day when all of a sudden – boom! Another driver hits you. You get out of your car to check the damages and see that it's only a small dent. You feel fine, too. When the other person gets out of the car, they apologize and suggest not calling the police. After all, it's only a minor fender bender, and no one was hurt, right? Wrong. Choosing not to call the police after an accident (even a minor one) is, at best, a bad idea and, at worst, may be a criminal offense. Similarly, choosing not to consult with a car accident attorney after a minor accident could be a mistake.
In this article, we'll discuss why you should consider consulting with a car accident attorney after a minor car wreck. If you've been in an accident and need legal advice, call or text our car accident lawyers at 602-345-1818 to schedule a free consultation. You may alternatively fill out our online form here.
Don't Leave the Scene of the Accident
Staying on the scene to wait for the authorities to arrive can be a huge inconvenience. Thus, many people are inclined to forego calling the cops after a minor accident. Think twice before deciding to do this. Not only could it be against the law, but it may set you up to be a scapegoat when the other party decides to point the finger at you leaving you on the hook for liability in the accident and maybe even criminal charges if you're charged with a hit and run. Imagine that you've gotten home after your minor car accident that you agreed not to report. There's a knock on your door, and you find out that after you left the scene, the other party called the cops and stated that you hit them and “just left the scene.” Even if that's not true, it could easily become a "he-said-she-said" situation. Reporting the incident saves you from this terrible scenario.
Additionally, in most states, you are required to report accidents to the authorities. This typically depends on the degree of your accident which is measured by a few elements. Arizona law does not mandate that an individual report an accident, personally. However, the authorities are required to file a written report if an accident involves an injury, death, property damage greater than $1,000, or if a citation was given to any of the drivers involved in the incident.
Just like in Arizona, whether or not you are required to report an accident to the police in New Mexico also depends on the circumstances involved. Depending on the extent of property damage or injury, you may be mandated to report the incident to the local authorities or submit a written report to the New Mexico Department of Transportation. If the accident involves bodily injury, death, or property damage greater than $500, you are required to report it to the local authorities by the “quickest means of communication,” according to NM Stat § 66-7-206. If the property damage is more than $1,000, a uniform crash report is required.
Lastly, filing a report can help you in terms of obtaining a fair and appropriate settlement if further injuries, such as whiplash or an aggravated pre-existing injury, should show up later.
Why Hire an Attorney?
After an accident, there's a checklist you should follow to protect yourself and any potential claims you may have down the road if injuries do arise. After reporting your accident and seeking medical care (even if you feel fine), you should consult a car accident lawyer. In fact, it's completely free to set up an initial case review and consultation. If we think that you don't need a lawyer, we'll tell you. However, many times, having a lawyer on your side will prove to be the best decision. Insurance companies typically don't play fairly, and they'll use every tactic to try to decrease your settlement or diminish it all together.
There are several reasons why you should consider hiring a car accident lawyer. Having an attorney on your side throughout the process can help you in:
- Proving negligence
- Identifying and proving fault
- Increasing your compensation
- Protecting you from fault
- Protecting you from common insurance adjuster tactics to get you to settle for less
- Advising you on specifics with your case
- Communicating and negotiating with the insurance company and other involved parties
What Types of Car Accident Cases Can I Handle on My Own?
Because car accident lawyer consultations are typically free, we advise that you at least speak with a personal injury lawyer initially. If your case is straightforward and easily settled without a lawyer, your attorney will tell you that. Scheduling an initial consultation is also smart because if you do decide to represent yourself, you will always have a readily available attorney contact who knows about your case in case things go south with the insurance company.
If you must attempt to handle your case alone, keep these insurance communication and negotiation tips in mind. Additionally, watch out for these common car accident claim mistakes:
- Stay away from social media– here's why that's vital to your car accident settlement.
- Keep good records and collect all necessary evidence
- Keep up with doctor appointments (go to the ER to get checked out directly after the accident, then keep going to appointments if you need to).
- Remember that the insurance adjuster is not your friend – be mindful of how you speak with them and what you tell them.
For more information on personal injury case cautions, please review our blog about how to avoid mistakes when filing a personal injury claim.
Schedule a Free Case Review Today
Our team is here for you to guide you and fight for you every step of the way. Schedule an initial consultation at no cost to you today by calling or texting 602-345-1818. You may also fill out our convenient contact form to request a free case review and consultation.
The information on our blog and website is for general informational purposes only, and it is not intended to serve as legal advice. For legal advice about your unique situation, call or text our car accident lawyers today.
We are located in Arizona and New Mexico. We serve clients in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Maricopa, and the entire state of Arizona. We also serve clients in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell, Farmington, Los Alamos, Las Cruces, and the entire state of New Mexico.