Don’t fall victim to these common mistakes after a car accident. Even the smartest people can fall trap to these errors. After a car accident, people are shaken up. Often, they are hurt and don’t know what to do. If the accident was not your fault, you need to be especially careful.
After a car accident, you are probably feeling many things. Anger, physical pain and general annoyance are 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. Take a deep breath. Learn more before you are caught off guard.
Accident Victims Beware!
Even if you are not ready to deal with the insurance companies, pay attention. 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. Do not count on the person responsible for causing your injuries to accept responsibility. Even if they do, the insurance company may have other ideas. Even if they accept responsibility, the insurance company will probably make you a ridiculously low offer. This 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
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. 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, get checked out. Now is the time to get over to the emergency room or schedule the available medical appointment with your doctor. 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. Getting out to seek medical care can be a hassle. Don’t let the hassle of seeing a doctor outweighs the benefits of taking care of yourself. You could even have internal injuries that require immediate attention. Many people choose to “self-treat” and only later, when they can’t take it anymore, do they decide to seek medical treatment. This could be detrimental to your physical well-being. To make matters worse, 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. Remember, doctors exist to help you. Do not wait to get checked out if you are in any pain after an accident. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Listen to your body.
2. Withholding Information from your Doctors
Society teaches us that it’s best not to complain and that as adults, we need to ‘suck it up’ and not talk about pain. Sure, don’t talk about your lower back pain at a cocktail party. 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 to mention your sore neck because it is your back that feels worse today, 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. Insurance companies can and will look for anything in your medical records to diminish your claim. That is their job. Let your doctor know everything that you are feeling. This is also important so that your doctor can decide how to best treat your injuries. Sometimes an injury in one area of the body will be felt in another part.
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. This could be unfairly held against you as an admission of fault for the entire accident. This can mean zero compensation if you were seriously injured. If an accident truly was your fault, you should not be compensated for your injuries. However, there are gray areas and you might not know if something was your fault or not. In Illinois, you can still be partially at fault for an accident and win a personal injury case in court. How fault is determined after an accident is not always clear cut. An attorney may wish to discuss the facts of the accident and look at the police report. Get legal advice before pleading guilty to a ticket, especially if there were any injuries from the accident.
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. Think of their marketing slogans. It is all about making you trust them. They want you to feel all warm and fuzzy so that you will not notice if they try to lowball you or play games. Insurance companies spend a lot of time and money leading the public to believe that they have your best interests in mind. They do not have your best interests in mind. They want to get rid of injury victims as cheaply as possible.
Run everything by your own lawyer. Do not even speak to the other driver’s insurance company until you have had the situation evaluated. This should be done by someone whose job it is to look out for you and only you. You even need to be careful talking to your own insurance company about injuries. Do not sign anything or talk to an insurance company without first talking to a lawyer. This is especially true if the accident was not your fault and if you were hurt. A good lawyer will protect you from being manipulated and can help you understand what is fair.
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. Take pictures of your car before it is fixed, of your injuries, of the roadway (if safe to do so) and anything else related to the accident. If your body was bruised, cut or burnt, get pictures as soon as possible. You do not need a fancy camera or a professional photographer at the outset. Just take pictures with your phone before things change. Pictures speak a thousand words. Remember to jot down the date that any pictures were taken and who took them. Save the pictures to your computer’s hard drive so that you are not scrolling through your phone years later looking for them.
6. Posting on Social Media
Do not post about your car accident on social media. We live in a society where many people will post when they get a haircut, plant a flower, or bake a cake. I get it. But do not post about your accident on social media. Insurance companies will often check social media related to injury claims. They want to know what you are really saying to people about it. They are looking for anything that can be used against you. Suffering from pain in your back? They will pull pictures of you carrying a bag. They do not know if the bag is full of feathers and will hold it against you. Social media posts, just like words spoken to an adjuster, can be twisted and taken out of context. If you end up pursuing a claim against the other driver for injuries, stay off of social media until your case is over – or limit your activity to liking friends’ posts. Do not let your friends tag you and watch your privacy settings. Do not accept friend requests from people that you don’t know. Social media can ruin an injury claim.
What to do if you made any of the above mistakes after your car accident
Don’t panic. Most mistakes can be fixed with the right approach. Talked to an insurance adjuster? Try to remember what you said and just do not do it again until you have talked to a lawyer. Didn’t go to the doctor? Depending on how long it has been, this could be a problem but you should always let your doctor try to help you heal. Some injuries just do not go away on their own. Plead guilty to a traffic ticket? Discuss this with your lawyer, especially if you did this only to avoid court. Didn’t take pictures? Ask around, maybe someone else did. Take them now. Posted on social media? Stop.
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. You can also fill out a webform on this site and someone will get back you soon.