How you respond after a Montana car accident impacts what happens next. The decisions you make in the immediate aftermath influence whether you’re able to seek recovery for your damages. With that in mind, it’s clear that knowing what to do (and what NOT to do) right after a car accident is critical. Here are nine big mistakes not to make after a car accident.
1. Admitting Liability
While it can feel respectful to say “I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault, I should have been paying closer attention,” those seemingly simple words can land you in lots of hot water.
When it comes to paying claims after a collision, insurance companies pay close attention to who holds liability in a car accident. If you’ve already admitted fault in any way, it could work against you down the road. With that in mind, avoid apologizing and wait until the police arrive on the scene to discuss what happened.
2. Not Calling the Police
Some car accidents aren’t big or catastrophic. Nobody was injured and it was only a little fender bender, so do you really have to call the police? The answer is yes. In fact, not calling the police is one of the biggest mistakes not to make after a car accident.
Here’s why: the police report that an on-scene officer produces is critical when it comes to dealing with insurance companies and filing claims. However minor a car accident may seem, don’t skip this important step.
3. Forgetting to Gather Evidence
You don’t have to be a private investigator to collect evidence at the scene of the car accident. If you’re not seriously injured and are just standing around waiting for the police, take a moment to take some photos.
Snap pictures of the damage to each car, the position of the vehicles relative to important traffic and road signs, and your injuries. If there were witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact information. Even if you don’t wind up in court, this evidence is important for attorneys and insurance companies alike.
4. Waiting to Open a Case
In the immediate wake of a car accident, you might be overwhelmed with responsibilities. In the midst of the chaos, though, it’s important to hop on the process of filing your insurance claim. In the state of Montana, there’s a two year statute limitation on property damage claims after a car accident. For personal injury claims, that statute only increases to three years. While that may seem like a long time, it passes quickly. Don’t delay after a car accident – contact your attorney and open a claim quickly.
5. Not Disputing Your Ticket
Just because you receive a traffic ticket after an accident does not mean you have to accept it. If you believe the ticket was issued incorrectly, you have the right to fight it in court. Keep in mind that this process can be difficult, so it’s wise to hire an attorney to assist you.
6. Not Telling the Whole Truth
If you believe you were at fault in a car accident, it’s critical to inform your attorney. While many people believe they’re protecting themselves by not telling the whole story, this only makes it harder for your attorney to go to bat for you. Remember: your lawyer is on your side, but they need complete information to create a compelling case.
7. Settling Quickly
It’s common for people to settle quickly after a car accident. They want to get the process over and done with and they believe that settling is a great way to get the benefits they need. In many cases, though, settling quickly actually results in a smaller payout.
With this in mind, don’t rush to settle your case, especially if there were serious injuries or defective automotive products. Instead, work closely with an attorney to ensure you pursue every possible avenue in your case. This ensures the fairest payout for you, and a complete resolution to your case.
8. Not Seeking Medical Attention
Even if you think you walked away from a car accident unscathed, it’s critical to go to the doctor. Sometimes, injuries like whiplash and spinal fractures don’t present immediately. If they show up months or weeks after the accident, it will be difficult to get an insurance company to cover them unless you have a post-accident doctor’s report.
9. Being Too Trusting of the Insurance Company
Your insurance company has a responsibility to pay your claims, but they also have an incentive to convince you to take smaller claims. After all, smaller settlements mean higher profits for them. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t accept your insurance company’s offer at face value. Instead, hire a skilled personal injury attorney to ensure you’re getting a fair deal from your insurer.
The days and weeks following a car accident can feel chaotic, and it’s tough to know what to do. By avoiding these common car accident claim mistakes, though, you can keep yourself safe, protect your rights, and ensure a complete resolution to your case.
Were you injured in a car accident? McGrady Law is here to help. Contact us today to learn about your rights and how we can help you protect them.