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Top 10 Mistakes People Make After A Car Accident Injury

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A car accident can lead to potentially serious injury. If someone else negligently causes a car accident and you get hurt as a result, you may be entitled to sue; likewise, if you cause a car accident injury to someone else, you may be liable. Whether you were hurt in a car or caused an accident that injured someone, consulting a car accident attorney after the fact is essential to making sure your rights are protected. Avoiding common mistakes is also essential... so read on for the top 10 mistakes people make after a car accident injury.

  1. Not filing a police report: If you are in a car accident, you should call the police and file a report. This is especially true if you or someone else involved in the accident suffered a potential injury. A police report can provide an objective explanation for what occurred. This can be useful if a lawsuit is ultimately filed, since the police report will attest to what really happened and it won't just be one driver's word against the others.
  2. Not exchanging insurance information: You may think that in a minor accident in which nothing appears to be wrong that it is OK not to exchange insurance information. But state laws require you to exchange driver license, car registration and insurance information. 
  3. Not contacting your insurer as soon as possible: You also want to contact your own insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Your insurance company may be paying your damages (especially if you live in a no fault state) and if you are sued, may pay your legal bills. You want to let them know what is going on as soon as possible so they can let you know how to proceed with filing a claim in accordance with their procedures.
  4. Not contacting an auto accident attorney if injury occurred: If you were injured or you injured someone, an auto accident attorney may be able to help you protect your rights. Most offer a free consultation so you can speak to them about what occurred and get an idea of whether they will be able to help you or not.
  5. Failing to collect evidence: If there were witnesses at the scene, you should make sure to get their names and numbers in case the facts of the accident are disputed. Likewise, any other evidence you can collect - from pictures of the intersection to pieces of bumper that fell off the car - can be important in the event that you are sued or that you need to sue the other driver for your injuries.
  6. Not getting timely medical care: If you are injured, you will want to get medical care as soon as possible, not only for your health, but also in case you want to recover for your damages in court. Your doctor can diagnose any injuries as soon as possible after the car accident both so you will know what you are facing and also so that it is clear the injuries in fact arose from the car accident.
  7. Keeping insufficient records: You will want to keep careful records of all medical diagnoses. You should also keep records of any and all bills you incur from medical bills to records of lost wages as a result of being out sick. Ultimately, if you sue the person who caused the accident, having careful records can help you to ensure you recover all of your damages.
  8. Not understanding their rights: As either a plaintiff or a defendant in a car accident case, your rights vary by state. In no fault states, for example, your own insurance company has to pay your medical damages, regardless of who was at fault. If you don't live in a no-fault state, you may have the right to sue but you may need to do so within a given period of time before the statute of limitations expires. It is important to understand both what the law is in regards to when you can sue or be sued, and to understand whether the other party did something in the particular case that can give rise to legal damages.
  9. Assuming they can't recover damages: If you contributed to causing an accident, you may automatically assume you cannot recover damages. While this is true under a contributory negligence system, many jurisdictions within the United States are now comparative negligence systems. This means if you were 20 percent responsible for the accident, you may still be able to recover the other 80 percent of your damages and costs from the other party. Don't' assume you cannot sue if you were injured without speaking to an attorney first.
  10. Assuming their insurance company will take care of everything: While your insurance company is supposed to be your advocate, sometimes their interests are not aligned with yours. For example, if they believe you were violating the terms of the policy - such as by driving drunk - they may attempt to prove that they do not have to defend you or pay your legal bills. While most often insurance companies do stand by their insureds in the vast majority of situations, you should not automatically assume that they will be acting on your behalf every step of the way.

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