Being injured in an accident is traumatic on several different levels. Obviously, you’ve been hurt and your injuries have caused you pain, loss of mobility, and money. You’re also suffering from an increased amount of mental stress. It’s likely that your injuries have had an impact on your employment. You may be unable to competently perform your job duties. In some cases, you may not be able to work at all. This means that things are getting tight financially. This leads to worry and anxiety about the future.
You wonder how you’re going to take care of yourself and the people who depend upon you. A part of you is outraged by all of the negative effects the accident has had on your life. You wonder if there is anything that you can do that will help you return to a normal existence.
The most important thing you can do right now is to avoid making the common mistakes that can compromise your ability to obtain adequate compensation for the damage caused by your injuries. Many accident victims, in pain and under a great amount of emotional stress, take actions that can influence their ability to recover money from the party responsible for their injuries.
In this article, we’re going to discuss some of these common mistakes so that you know what NOT to do after you’ve been injured in an accident. While we’re discussing these mistakes in terms of a car accident, keep in mind that they apply to any accident, no matter the cause.
The first few minutes after you’ve been in an accident can be a blur. You’re in shock. You’re confused about what happened and about what to do next. However, no matter how confused and disoriented you may be, there are certain steps that you must take if you want to protect your interests. If you fail to do so, you likely won’t get another chance.
If you’ve been in a car accident, Arizona law requires that you do the following:
A failure to do any of the above could subject you to charges of misdemeanor or felony hit and run, depending on the circumstance and severity of the accident.
If you’ve been injured, it is a priority to make sure that you get the assistance that you need. Never refuse medical attention. If emergency medical personnel feel that you need transportation to a hospital, let them take you.
Keep calm. Don’t argue with anyone at the scene. Do not apologize for the accident and do not claim that it was your fault. Anything you say at the scene of the accident can be used against you to limit or prevent your recovery of damages. At the same time, if the other driver apologizes or admits fault, make notes of what was said, and who else was present.
When the police arrive, cooperate with them fully. Tell them exactly what happened from your point of view. Stick with what you know and resist the urge to elaborate, estimate, or guess. If they ask you a question and you don’t know the answer, simply say so.
Get the contact information for any witnesses on the scene. Also, take pictures of the scene and the accident itself. All the information that you are able to gather now is invaluable in building a case that will get you the compensation you deserve in the future.
If you or your attorney cannot settle the case for damages against the party who injured you, you will have to go to trial. At trial, the judge or jury will examine every piece of admissible evidence that you have in your possession in order to determine who is liable for you injuries. The more potential evidence you gather after your accident, the more evidence you will have to support your allegations if you case goes to trial.
Let’s be clear about one thing up front – the insurance company is not your friend. Yes, their advertising is built around friendship, protection, and cooperation. However, when it comes to paying claims against the policies they issue, their business model is built around the three Ds – deny, delay, and defend. The adjusters and lawyers who work for big insurance companies are not paid based on the amount of money they pay out; they are paid to keep the amount that is paid on claims as small as possible.
This is why you need to be wary when a representative of the insurance company for the party who injured you contacts you. They will tell you that they need information in order to process your claim. They will act as if they are on your side and want to get you claim resolved as soon as possible. Under no circumstances should you believe them. They are your adversaries. If they can, they will use all the information that they can get from you to reduce your claim as low as possible or deny it altogether.
When asked to give a statement, tell them that you are willing to cooperate as soon as a car accident lawyer represents you. If they ask you to sign any document, give them the same answer. Once you have hired an attorney, they are forbidden to contact you directly and must work with your attorney instead to get any information about you, your injuries, or your case.