If you have just been in a car accident, chances are you are filled with adrenaline and might not react in a rational way. Many accident victims do things in the immediate aftermath of a crash that jeopardize a future personal injury claim. This is why we want to provide you with a list of do’s and don’ts so that you will know how to react if you are in a car accident.
3 Things to DO After a Collision
- Contact the police. Most car accidents result in some type of injury, and it is every driver’s duty under Virginia law to report accidents that result in injury or death. It is important to stay at the accident scene until a police officer arrives and get his or her name, badge number, and request a written police report. Do cooperate with the police officer and provide facts about the accident, but do not apologize or admit to making a driving mistake.
- Seek medical attention. Not only is it best for your health and well-being to make sure your injuries are thoroughly looked at by a doctor, but seeking medical care after a crash will help strengthen your potential accident claim. By going to the ER or seeing your primary care doctor in the hours or days after a wreck, an insurance adjuster will know that you have suffered an injury, which will help support your personal injury claim.
- Collect proof to support your claim. If you can do so, use your cell phone and take pictures of the crash before any car is moved. Take photographs of damage to your car and to the other vehicles involved. Do ask the other driver for his or her full name as well as his or her insurance company and policy number. If there is any neutral third party who saw the crash, ask him or her to make a statement and collect his or her contact information.
3 Things NOT to Do After a Car Crash
- Ignore your pain and fail to see a doctor in an appropriate amount of time. Many people hope and pray that the pain they feel after a car accident will go away; however, sometimes it gets worse. It is never a good idea to discount any type of pain or minor injury after a crash because the insurance adjuster will assume you weren’t seriously hurt. Consequently, the insurance adjuster will not offer you the best possible settlement in your case.
- Fall into traps set by the insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters are trained to settle claims for pennies on the dollar. They do this by trying to settle your case fast before you even know the full extent of your injuries. So that you don’t fall for one of their tricks, it is important to know what not to do when dealing with an adjuster. Don’t accept a quick settlement offer. You may have injuries that you aren’t aware of. Sometimes injuries don’t appear for weeks after an accident. If you accept an offer too fast, you will lose your right to compensation for additional injuries. Also, don’t sign any paperwork—even a medical authorization release form—without having an attorney review it. This will give the insurance company access to your past medical history and they will attempt to relate your current injuries to a pre-existing injury in order to limit their liability.
- Give the insurance company additional information. Although it is required to report a car accident to your insurance company, there are several things you should know when talking to an insurance adjuster so that you don’t harm your potential personal injury claim. Don’t give an insurance adjuster—including an adjuster with your own insurance company or an insurance adjuster for the other driver—more information than you are legally required to provide. The more words you say to an adjuster, the higher chance he or she can use your words against you. This is why you shouldn’t give an adjuster a recorded statement without speaking to a lawyer. Adjusters are trained to ask leading questions that can trap you into making statements that could harm your case and lower their liability.
Speak With a Virginia Car Accident Attorney
We hope these tips will help you avoid making mistakes that can harm your own personal injury claim. You can also see additional tips on our website that will provide you with more information about what victims of auto accidents need to know.