After getting into a car accident, you may be in shock. Your heart is hammering and your hands are shaking. You may also be in pain because of a wrenched back, broken bones or some other serious injury.
What you do next may mean the difference between a settlement check that covers your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, and getting taken advantage of by the other driver’s insurance company. If you have never been in a serious car wreck before, you may not know what you should do to protect your right to recovery.
What not to do after you are hurt in a wreck
Here are six mistakes not to do in the minutes, hours and days following an auto accident:
- Saying, “Sorry.” Never apologize to the other driver, even if you are not sure who was at fault. Otherwise, the other driver’s insurance company could take what you said as an admission of liability.
- Not collecting evidence. If you are well enough, collect the insurance and contact information for all other drivers involved. Use your phone to take pictures of all the vehicles so you have evidence of the extent of the damage. If there were witnesses, get their contact information too.
- Avoiding the doctor. Just because you feel all right now does not mean you were not injured. Some types of car accident injuries don’t show symptoms for days. Don’t make your potential injuries worse by not going to the doctor for a checkup as soon as possible.
- Ignoring medical advice. Once you get a diagnosis, follow your doctor’s instructions. Trying to “power through” an injury does not make you tough. It makes you an idiot who will take longer to heal, or might even make your injuries worse.
- Talking about your wreck on social media. You should assume that the insurance company is monitoring your social media. Any pictures, video or writing you post online could be used as evidence against you. While your case is pending, do not discuss it online.
- Trying to handle your case without a lawyer. You may think you are saving yourself money by representing yourself against the insurance company. But in the end, you will likely get far less than you would if an experienced personal injury attorney was working for you. A personal injury lawyer would know the insurance company’s tricks to get out of liability and would carry the threat of litigation if negotiations do not result in a fair settlement.
By being smart and avoiding preventable mistakes, your case can end positively for you.