Car accidents happen every day, and for most drivers it’s not a matter of “if” they’ll be in a car crash, it’s a matter of “when.” Since your chances of being in a car accident at least once in your lifetime are fairly high, it’s important that you know what to do when tragedy strikes. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it could negatively affect your claim and we don’t want that to happen.
To give you the best chances of receiving the compensation you deserve in the event of a car accident, we advise you NOT to make these mistakes when filing a claim:
1. Not filing a police report.
We highly recommend calling the police to the scene of the accident and having them file a police report. If for some reason the police don’t show, go down to the station within a day of the accident (if possible) and file your own report. Police reports can be very helpful tools in car accident claims, plus they ensure that the other driver doesn’t provide you with false contact information. You can file a car accident claim without having filed a police report, but it can make it more complicated.
2. Not preserving evidence.
It’s best to preserve physical evidence to the best of your abilities, this way you can paint a good picture of what happened. We recommend taking lots of pictures at the accident scene, including skid marks, weather conditions, where the vehicles landed, your injuries, etc. You can also take video and save any stained, ripped, torn, or bloodied clothing from the crash.
3. Saying you’re at-fault for the accident.
NEVER say you’re responsible for an accident. Don’t say, “I’m sorry,” or “It was all my fault.” Even if you think you were to blame, that may not be the case at all. Instead, let the insurance companies decide. If you assume responsibility, it can present some real challenges during the claims process.
4. Not getting the other driver’s information.
Always get the other driver’s license, registration, auto insurance, and license plate information. Also, get their address and phone number. If you don’t get the vehicle information mentioned above and they give you a fake address and cell phone, you may never be able to reach them again.
5. Failing to see a doctor in a timely fashion.
If you don’t see a doctor within 72 hours of an accident, it sends a powerful message to the insurance company that you’re not that hurt. By delaying medical care, the insurance company can seriously question the validity of your claim. Our advice is to see a doctor or a chiropractor, or both, as soon as possible. If you can seek medical attention the same day, great. If not, do it within 24 hours but no later than 72 hours of the crash.
6. Giving a recorded statement.
It’s a bad idea to give a recorded statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier without your attorney’s approval and attendance. Do NOT give any recorded statements without a personal injury lawyer’s okay first. Otherwise, the insurance company can use what you say against you, or they can find ways to discredit your statements so they can devalue your claim.
7. Signing the Medical Authorization Release.
Do not sign the Medical Authorization Release without your attorney’s approval. If you go ahead and sign this document, the insurance company can dig deep into your medical history to try and argue that you have pre-existing injuries and therefore your claim should be reduced or denied.
8. Accepting a low-ball settlement.
Please, don’t represent yourself. Usually, self-representation leads to accepting a low-ball settlement. Why is this? Because, plaintiffs don’t understand what their case is worth so they’ll believe whatever the insurance company says about their claim being of little value. To protect your best interests, hire a New Jersey car accident attorney from our firm. This way, we can seek maximum compensation on your behalf.