After you’ve been involved in a car accident, it can often be easy to make significant mistakes that negatively impact your legal rights and options, especially if you’ve never been involved in a car accident claim before. Below are a few of the biggest car accident mistakes people make.
Dismissing or Underestimating Injuries
While some car crashes do result in plainly visible serious injuries, many car accident victims walk away from a crash feeling stiff or sore but thinking they haven’t been seriously injured. However, many injuries suffered in car accidents can take days or weeks to begin causing you serious pain or other noticeable symptoms. While you think that stiffness or soreness will go away over time, you might find that it only gets worse. It is also very easy to miss signs and symptoms of other serious, non-visible injuries like a traumatic brain injury.
Dismissing or underestimating injuries can hurt you if you later choose to pursue a car accident claim since it can give the insurance companies or opposing parties grounds to argue that you weren’t actually injured in the accident or that your injuries are not as serious as you claim. It can also create a dispute over the amount of compensation you are entitled to, if the other side argues that by ignoring your injuries you allowed your condition to get worse and required more extensive and expensive treatment.
For these reasons, it’s always best to either get checked out by emergency medical personnel at the accident scene, or be seen by a ER doctor or your primary care physician as soon as possible after an accident.
Waiting Too Long to Start a Claim
Florida law places a time limit on beginning a claim for compensation following a car accident. Under the statute of limitations, you usually have four years from the date of a car accident to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the crash. If you file suit after the limitations period on your claim has passed, your case will likely be dismissed from court.
Waiting too long to begin your claim also runs the risk that critical evidence in your case is lost. Accident scenes will be cleaned up, vehicles will be repaired or junked, surveillance footage will be deleted or recorded over, and memories will fade.
Talking to the Insurance Company
You may be contacted by insurance adjusters soon after an accident, looking for you to provide a statement for their records or as part of their investigation. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters will use tactics to get accident victims to say things that the insurance company can later use to undercut the victim’s claim. It is instead better to hire a car accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash so that you can refer insurance company representatives to your lawyer if you are contacted.
Not Reporting the Accident
Under Florida law, drivers are required to immediately report a car accident to law enforcement if the accident results in injury or death, more than $500 dollars in property damage, or if the accident involves a hit-and-run or intoxicated driver. When you report a car accident to the police, officers will prepare a police accident report, which will include information about the police’s investigation, note whether any drivers were cited or arrested for the accident, and may even provide the investigating officer’s opinion as to who was at fault for the crash.
Many insurance companies will deny accident claims if there is no police accident report. This report often serves as an important piece of evidence in determining liability for a car accident.
Failing to Record Evidence
A car accident scene may be quickly cleaned up following an accident. That’s why it is critical to act quickly to begin recording important information. Use your phone to take photos or video of important details like damage to the vehicles and the surrounding area. Make sure to get the contact and insurance information from each driver involved in the accident. Also get contact information from any eyewitnesses, and ask them to provide a short statement about the accident on the spot or as soon as possible, before their memory begins to fade.
Accepting a Quick Settlement
You may be facing financial pressures from medical bills and missed work after a car accident. This can make it very tempting to accept the insurance company’s offer of compensation. However, an insurer’s first settlement offer almost always never represents either the full amount of compensation you deserve or the maximum amount of compensation the insurance company will be willing to provide. Take time to fully understand your injuries, treatment plan, and prognosis so that you will have a better sense of the full extent of your losses and can request a settlement amount that will more fully compensate you.
Discussing the Accident on Social Media
Although you might be tempted to discuss the accident with friends and family on social media, insurance representatives and defense lawyers may be monitoring your social media accounts to see if you post something that contradicts your official claims. Also avoid posting photos or videos of yourself following the accident, as opposing parties might try to use them as proof that you aren’t as seriously injured as you claim.
Trying to Resolve a Car Accident Claim without a Lawyer
The biggest mistake that a car accident victim can make is trying to resolve their case on their own. Accident victims who have legal representation almost always obtain a larger settlement or trial verdict than those accident victims who try to handle their cases by themselves.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Lawlor, White & Murphey represent clients injured because of car accidents in Weston, Fort Lauderdale, Coconut Creek, Plantation, and throughout Florida. Call 954-525-2345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2211 Davie Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, as well as offices in Pembroke Pines, Weston, Coconut Creek, Plantation, and Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.