After a car accident, you are probably feeling many things: anger, physical pain and general annoyance likely at the top of the list. To make matters worse, the insurance companies "have a few questions" and might be pressuring you to sign a form or two.
Accident Victims Beware!
Even if you are not ready to deal with questions and forms and all of that yet from the insurance companies, you should be taking steps now to protect yourself from these common mistakes that injury victims often make which can ruin their chances of a good outcome later. You'll want to at least be aware of these issues now, in case the person responsible for causing your injuries (or their insurance company) does not want to accept responsibility. Or, the insurance company may make you a ridiculously low offer which can leave you wondering if you are headed for financial ruin. Don't let that happen.
Common Mistakes Injured People Make Following a Car Accident:
1. Denying Your Physical Pain
Three years ago I was rear ended while waiting for a train, on my way to a Halloween Party. Other than a dull headache, I didn’t feel anything unusual when I went to sleep that night and I was cautiously optimistic that I was going to be fine. Unfortunately, a few days later I noticed a big difference in my back, shoulders and neck. As soon as you feel pain that was not there before the accident is the time to at least schedule the soonest available medical appointment. You can always cancel if the pain is gone by the time that your appointment rolls around. It is natural to try to deny that you were hurt in the accident and often times just the thought of having to schedule medical appointments, take the time to go to the appointments, deal with the billing, etc outweighs the desire to feel better. Many people choose to “self-treat” and only later, when they can’t take it anymore, do they decide to seek medical treatment. Not only could this be detrimental to your physical well-being, but if you wait too long to seek medical treatment, it sends the message that maybe the pain couldn’t have been that bad. This can diminish the strength of your claim later, if it turns out to be something worth pursuing against the other driver.
2. Feeling Shy at your Doctor's Visit
Society teaches us that it’s best not to complain and that as adults (especially men), we need to ‘suck it up’ and not talk about pain. There is a time and a place for that advice (out on a date…) but once inside your doctor’s office, honesty is the best policy. You don’t have to put on a brave face if you are in pain. Your doctor is there to help you feel better. Speak up about everything you are feeling physically that was not there before the accident, even if it seems minor now. If you forget, for example, to mention your still sore neck only because it is your back that feels worse today and you don’t want to sound like a complainer, this omission from the medical records will be used against you. The more thoroughly documented your injuries are, the better chance you have of receiving a fair settlement.
3. Not Defending a Traffic Ticket
If you got a traffic ticket as a result of the accident, you may be inclined to just pay it rather than face the hassle of going to court, even if you think that the ticket was not well deserved. This could be unfairly held against you as an admission of fault for the entire accident and you risk getting zero compensation.
4. Trusting the Insurance Company
Insurance Companies are For Profit and their number one concern is their bottom line. Their employees are all very well trained in how to communicate with you & earn your trust. This is how they lead you to believe that they have your best interests in mind. They do NOT have your best interests in mind! You should run everything by your own lawyer and not even speak to the other driver’s insurance company until you have had the situation evaluated by someone whose job it is to look out for you and only you. NOT someone whose interests are in direct opposition to your own.
5. Not Taking Pictures
If you took pictures at the scene of the accident, hold on to them as they can be important evidence if you need to pursue a case. Also, take pictures of your car before it is fixed, of your injuries, the roadway (if safe to do so) and anything else related to the accident.
What to do if you made any of the above mistakes after your car accident
Most mistakes can be fixed with the right approach. Part of what could be wrong may exist in your head, feeling as if you need to be super-human and tough out the pain or you might just be annoyed because you don't have time to be out with an injury. It may help to talk through your feelings about what you are experiencing physically and have an open and honest conversation with your doctor or physical therapist.
You might feel that you were pressured into things by the insurance company, which is not at all uncommon. Stop speaking with them until you have received some legal advice. It is smart to find out where things might stand for you legally and understand your options. You might not even need to hire a lawyer, and we would be happy to speak to you - no strings attached. If you were hurt in a car accident in the Chicagoland area and think that it may have been the other person's fault, give us a call now at 630 250-8813 or fill out a webform on this site and someone will get back you soon.