When you’re in a car accident, it’s easy to become unfocused, as the experience can be traumatic. However, as you navigate the post-accident events to come, you must stay focused, legally protected (and represented), and aware of the responsibilities that have now fallen on your shoulders. To assist you in your journey, here are eight common mistakes people make after a car accident (and how to avoid them):
1. Failing to Gather Evidence Quickly
You must gather evidence in a quick, efficient, and legal fashion. An attorney that will provide a car accident lawyer service in the Chicago area will be perfect for the evidence-gathering process. If you want to ensure you’re ready to win your case, this step is critical to your success.
2. Admitting Guilt
While it may seem normal to simply admit guilt, it’s difficult to know exactly who is at fault in some auto accidents. If you’re in a situation where the fault is not 100% clear, you should never admit guilt. Police, attorneys, judges, and potential jurors will be determining the person at fault, and if you’re admitting guilt early on, you’re putting yourself in a difficult situation where winning your case becomes near impossible. To protect yourself legally, this step is of utmost importance.
3. Skipping a Doctor’s Visit
Not all aspects of the post-accident process involve the law altogether. Visiting a doctor after an accident is critical to ensuring that you’re alright and that no medical attention or therapeutic processes are needed. Additionally, the medical impact of your accident will be a key piece of evidence later on (so this step is required).
4. Not Calling the Police
One of the most important aspects of filing an auto accident case is having written evidence and reports that back up your side of the story. By calling the police after a potentially case-causing accident, you’re setting up legal, documented evidence that can be used in court later on. Be patient, and tell your story in a calm, specific fashion to the officer taking your report, and ask to see the report if possible to ensure they understood your claims. Doing so will be particularly useful if you find yourself involved in a case that is overseen by a jury.
5. Waiting too Long to File a Claim/Case
If you wait too long, especially in certain states, you’ll put yourself at risk of exceeding the time limit placed on filing auto accident cases. If you do so, you may miss out on restitution that you rightly deserve, or might be fined for an aspect of the accident that was not your fault. Filing as soon as possible is key, and your attorney can help you navigate the process of filing effectively and properly.
6. Settling Much Too Quickly
When you’re in a case that ends in a settlement, the first settlement that’s proposed is not always the best. Being open to asking for a more fair settlement, and consulting with your attorney is crucial during this step. Some cases will be wonderfully settled from the first offer, but this is unfortunately rare. Simply being prepared to fight for the settlement amount you deserve is key with this step. A solid attorney could even lead to valuable legal relationships later on.
7. Not Asking Questions
When you’re in an accident that leads to a court case, you need to be probing the other driver, their attorneys, and the court system to the best of your abilities. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure when the court date finally arrives. Being sure to stay honest as you ask questions to each of these groups is of utmost importance as well (and can make the difference between you winning or losing your case later on).
8. Skipping Parts of Your Story in a Report
Your attorney is there to help, but if you skip parts of a story in your report, or when talking to your attorney, you’re setting yourself up for legal failure. You want to be incredibly prepared for all court appearances, especially if the accident was through no fault of your own (and you intend to prove so alongside your attorney). If you’re looking to get a fair recovery or to defend your driving actions properly, you both must have an attorney, and only tell the truth to them.
Keep Yourself Protected Post-Accident
By following these steps, and avoiding these eight common mistakes, you’ll be much more likely to win your case. Accidents can cause a lot of emotional, financial, and physical fallout, so protecting yourself post-accident is not only the smart choice but an essential one for everyone who finds themselves in a legally-problematic auto accident.