When you’re in a car accident, even if it’s a pretty mild one, it’s stressful and can create a lot of anxiety. Your adrenaline is probably spiking, but some of the things you say at the scene can be problematic later. There are also mistakes that happen along the way when dealing with the insurance company.
For example, should you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster? The answer is maybe, but with some things in mind.
That’s detailed more below, as are some specific mistakes you should avoid if you’re in a car accident.
1.) Admitting Fault At the Scene
If you’ve just been in an accident and you start to say you’re sorry for anything, even if you’re just making polite conversation, it can be a problem. The responding officer at the accident may include these details in your accident report, and later, when you file a claim with the insurance company they can use this against you.
You might also face legal problems if you admit fault.
The thing is that the police and the insurance company will make a determination on fault, and you may not even be at fault even if you think you are.
Stay as quiet as you can, and don’t volunteer too much information of any kind at the scene of an accident.
2.) Not Seeing a Doctor Right After
You’re in an accident, and you leave the scene thinking you feel fine. Then days or weeks later you realize you’ve hurt your neck. What do you do?
Well you’ll go see a doctor but if you’re injured, you may have ruined your chances of getting your damages covered because you didn’t see a doctor right away.
Even if you’re in a minor accident, the recommendation is that you get checked out by a doctor as soon as you can, in case anything comes up later.
When you’re experiencing an adrenaline rush after a stressful event, you may not even notice pain that can become a bigger problem later on.
3.) Underestimating the Severity of Your Injuries
This mistake goes along a bit with the one above, but it’s also something to think about on its own. You never want to underestimate or downplay your injuries after an accident, including to yourself.
You need to take any pain or discomfort seriously and get treatment because otherwise, your injury can get worse over time.
4.) Talking Too Much to an Insurance Adjuster
As harsh as it can sound, an insurance adjuster is not your friend. They are doing a job, and that job depends on them paying out as little as possible for an accident. Insurance adjusters may play to your emotions and make it seem like they want to help you, but they don’t.
When an insurance adjuster asks you questions they’re trying to get information they can use against you. Don’t give information or details that aren’t needed, don’t make any guesses or projections about what happened, and keep your communications to a minimum.
5.) Not Getting Evidence at the Scene
When you’re at the scene of an accident, as has been touched on throughout this guide, you are under a lot of stress and potentially in shock, but you need to do your best to hold it together. Getting evidence at the scene of an accident is something you’ll be very glad you have later on when you’re dealing with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company.
After you’re in an accident, as tough as it may be to remember with everything going on, you need to get names and contact information for everyone involved, get photos of the scene of the accident, take videos and see if there are any witnesses. You should also get a copy of the accident report and the badge number of the officer who completes it.
6.) Giving a Recorded Statement
This was something mentioned above—should you give a recorded statement?
If you’re working with a lawyer, they may advise against it. You don’t have to do it, and if you do give a recorded statement, you might say something that’s later used against you.
Again, the insurance adjuster is not aiming to be objective. They are trying to reduce the costs for their business and employer as much as they can. If they can get away without paying anything on your claim, that is the ultimate goal.
7.) Not Reporting It To Your Insurer
You might not report an accident to your insurance company for a few reasons. For example, you might think the property damage is minimal, so you’d rather not bother. The other driver might be at fault and they could have begged you not to. You might also not report it because you just don’t want your insurance company to know.
Regardless, you need to report any accident, including one that’s minor, to your insurance company because otherwise, they can deny your claim.
8.) Signing Something Before Talking to a Lawyer
If you’re in an accident and you’re hurt, the insurance adjuster may try to have you sign a release. This would mean that you wouldn’t be able to pursue any further action on your claim, and you could be left paying for ongoing medical bills out of pocket.
It’s a good idea to at least speak to an attorney before you sign anything from an insurance company.
9.) Posting on Social Media
Finally, if you’re in an accident, be careful about anything you’re posting on social media. The insurance company and their legal team will be looking for any excuse to deny your claim, and they can use your social media posts against you.
Until you have things sorted out, it can be best to lay low on social media altogether because you never know how they could frame certain things. For example, spending the night out on the town with friends could ultimately be used against you.