10 Car Accident Tips
The steps taken after a car accident, or the steps missed, can impact your recovery from injury. It can also determine whether insurance companies treat you fairly. Avoid these common mistakes to help you on the road to recovery.
- Document the Collision
Take pictures and video if you can. Use your phone. Local businesses or homes also have cameras that might have captured the car accident. The more evidence you can gather right away, the better!
Remember – if it isn’t in writing, proving what was said or done can be difficult. Make sure to document: injuries to you and any passengers, damage to your vehicle and other property, contact and insurance information for other drivers, and contact information from witnesses to the crash.
- Don’t Post About the Collision on Social Media
Whatever you post on the internet will be reviewed by insurance companies. Anything can be taken out of context to help them, not you. As we say: “Dance like no one is watching. Post on social media like it will be shown in court.”
- Contact the Police
Police are trained to document collisions and determine who is at-fault. Ask for a police report to be made. While it might take more time to have the police respond, you’ll be saving hours of potential problems later. If the police can’t respond, file your own report, which can be found online or at your local police department.
- Don’t Ignore Pain & Injury
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor to get checked out following any crash. And disclose all injuries—even those that seem minor. Injuries can take hours, days, or longer to appear. Not only will this help you get back to good health as soon as possible, but it will help document your medical concerns.
- Accept Recommended Medical Treatment
Be proactive and make time to go get the recommended medical treatment. Insurance companies love it when people don’t follow through with expensive medical treatment and will later argue that you weren’t really injured, or that it’s your fault you didn’t get better.
- Don’t Communicate with Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The at-fault party’s insurer is not your friend, but will pretend to be. You do not have to answer their calls, or their mail. You also do not have to give them a statement.
If the at-fault party’s insurer gets you on the phone, tell them that you will contact them when you are ready to settle your case.
- Don’t Settle Your Case Too Soon
Only consider a settlement if your treatment is done and your injuries have healed. Settling too soon puts you at a serious disadvantage. The full extent of your injuries may not be known and whatever settlement you accept is final.
In Washington, you have three years from the date of collision to settle your case. The at-fault party’s insurance company will only give you one settlement to cover all your medical bills along with your pain and suffering.
- Don’t Accept The First Offer
The first offer an insurance company makes is 99 percent of the time too low — whether it’s for your vehicle, or your injuries.
- Don’t Hire An Attorney First
Focus first on your health and recovery. There are a lot of attorneys (many of whom advertise on TV) that will happily take your case and 1/3 of your recovery, even if it leaves you with nothing. Hiring an attorney is a big deal and every case is unique. Take your time to make sure that you can trust and can rely on the person is working on your case.
If you are considering an attorney make sure that your initial consultation (which should be free) is with an actual attorney.
- Ask Questions
A car accident is a traumatic event. Even a “minor” crash can cause serious pain and inconvenience. And for some people, their lives will never be the same. Take the time to ask questions—of your insurer, doctors, and attorneys—before making important decisions. Understanding what’s happening is vital getting to your best recovery, and best settlement.
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