There are a number of mistakes by victims of auto accidents which can hurt their case. Even though the drivers may be a shaken up from the collision, there are things to keep in mind at the scene of the accident. These include:
1) Telling the driver of the other vehicle that you are "fine". The other party will tell their insurance company this information when they are reporting the accident, and this can be used against you in settlement discussions or at trial.
2) Admitting that your were at fault. This can also be used against you in legal proceedings. Making sure to have the local police respond to your accident scene can help in determining liability and fault.
3) Failure to gather information at the scene. Most people have the ability to take photos with their cell phone, and should do so. Get the names and addresses of any witnesses or anyone who assisted at the scene.
4) If you are experiencing any symptoms, you should seek immediate treatment at the hospital or an urgent care clinic. Not only will this help eliminate potential serious complications, but it documents your injuries and informs the insurance company that you were injured in the accident. And, you should be sure to mention any and all complaints when seeking treatment, no matter how insignificant they may seem at the time.
5) Accepting a fast settlement from the insurance company. Many people believe the at fault insurance company is being efficient and helpful in offering to get the matter settled quickly, but many times they are simply hoping to have you sign off before you know you are hurt. Often times, symptoms may not show for several weeks after the collision. If you have already settled with the insurance company, you are on your own and may have to pay significant copays or deductibles to seek care.
Please keep these in mind if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an auto accident, and call our office as soon as possible to get evaluated. Scar tissue begins forming quickly, and the more delay in seeking treatment, the greater the chances your pain will become chronic.