The days following your car accident can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, this is also the time that people tend to make mistakes that can do irreparable damage to their claims. Even if you aren’t sure whether you have a claim, it is best to proceed carefully in order to protect your rights. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is talk to a Defuniak Springs car accident lawyer - they can help you find the way forward, even if you choose not to pursue a claim.
1. Admitting Fault
Most people who are in a car accident know not to say the accident was their fault if it truly wasn’t. The mistake that many people make, however, is admitting that they may be partially at fault for causing the accident. They do this because they are nervous or want to make the other person feel better about the accident, or they simply aren’t thinking about what they are saying. Unfortunately, even an innocuous statement such as the following could potentially jeopardize your claim:
- “I had to stop suddenly.”
- “I was distracted by my child.”
- “I wasn’t looking.”
Even these types of vague statements can be used against you by the other party or their insurance company if you later need to pursue a claim. The less you say, the better - try to limit your statements to only the very basic facts pertaining to the accident. Even if you think you may be partially at fault, that kind of determination depends on certain legal assumptions that you may not be qualified to make. Instead, you should contact a Defuniak Springs car accident lawyer to discuss how you should proceed.
2. Not Getting Witnesses’ Contact Information
Witnesses can provide vital evidence for your claim. While they are not obligated to remain at the scene of the accident, you should get their contact information if they are there and saw what happened.
The people involved in the accident may not be able to testify as to key details. Uninvolved witnesses are considered neutral, uninterested third parties, and as a result, their statements can serve as powerful evidence. Even if they cannot establish fault, they can be helpful in confirming important facts.
A Defuniak Springs car accident lawyer can obtain statements from the witnesses to the accident and ensure that they are clear and consistent. A compelling witness statement can be powerful evidence in support of your claim.
3. Assuming that the Police Report is Dispositive
While police reports are certainly helpful, it is important to understand that they aren’t always accurate. The police responding to the accident have competing priorities including interviewing the people involved, directing traffic, and recording the pertinent information. And while they have considerable experience with car accidents, they are not experts and sometimes make unjustified assumptions.
As a result, do not assume that you don’t have a claim based on what may be reflected in the accident report. A Defuniak Springs car accident lawyer can review the accident report and determine whether it may pose any problems to your claim.
4. Not Getting a Thorough Medical Exam
Many people involved in car accidents don’t realize that they are injured right away. When they start experiencing symptoms over the next few days, they either assume that it’s unrelated to the accident or they assume that they will simply go away. In some cases, their symptoms linger for weeks or months after the accident and they never schedule an appointment with their doctor.
Failing to seek medical treatment can later be used against you if you decide to pursue a claim. The insurer will argue that you are exaggerating your injuries - otherwise, you would have sought medical attention. The lack of medical documentation can also make it difficult to prove your case. If you are unsure where to go or how to go about getting an exam, a Defuniak Springs car accident lawyer can make a recommendation.
5. Ignoring Medical Advice
Related to getting a medical exam, another common mistake is when people don’t follow their doctor’s orders. If your doctor puts you on bed rest, going to work can jeopardize your case. Similarly, you should attend all follow-up appointments, physical therapy sessions, and tend to any other steps that your doctor recommends. If you do not, the insurance company will argue that your injuries were less severe than you claimed and that you are seeking compensation for unnecessary medical treatment.
6. Talking to Insurers Without an Attorney
This one is difficult because the insurance companies will want to talk to you as soon as possible. As with admitting fault, even seemingly harmless statements can be used against you. If you haven’t had time to consult with a Defuniak Springs car accident lawyer, you should try to limit yourself only to the basic facts such as when and where the accident happened and the extent of your injuries.
7. Accepting a Settlement Offer Without Legal Advice
This is a mistake that will do more than jeopardize your claim - if you accept the offer, you will have no further recourse.
You may be surprised at how quickly the insurance company offers to settle your case. The issue is that, if you accept, you are waiving all further and future claims related to your accident. This means that you cannot seek further compensation if you discover that your injuries or other losses are greater than you originally thought.
A Defuniak Springs car accident lawyer can review your offer, help you understand the implications, and discuss your options. They can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not you should accept it.
Injured in a Car Accident in Defuniak Springs? Contact Powell, Powell & Powell
Don’t jeopardize your case by saying or doing the wrong thing. If you have been injured in a car accident, a Defuniak Springs car accident lawyer from our firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 850-682-2757 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation and get the help you need.