Being in a car accident is a disorienting experience. Your adrenaline is racing, your head is pounding, and all of your senses are hazy and sharp at the same time. Needless to say, you won’t be thinking clearly. Because of this, many people make mistakes after an accident that can be easily avoided. It pays to think through scenarios ahead of time while your head is still clear. Here’s what not to do after an accident.
Don’t Leave The Scene
The most crucial thing is to stay at the scene of the accident. In Illinois, leaving an accident scene is a crime, for which you can incur fines, lose your license or even face jail time, depending on the severity of the incident. Stay where you are.
Don’t Fail To Call The Police
Any crash that results in injuries, fatalities or $1,500 worth of property damage must be reported to the police. When it comes to car repairs, $1,500 doesn’t go very far, so assume that you’re over that limit.
Moreover, an officer will file a police report, which is a key document in any resulting insurance investigation. If the other driver was clearly at fault, be sure the officer documents that in the report.
Don’t Leave Without Taking Pictures
Memories are shakier than usual following a car accident, so be sure to take as many pictures as possible, assuming that you can do so safely. This includes the other driver’s car, the intersection, road conditions, surrounding environment and anything else that might be relevant. Take pictures from several different angles to present the clearest understanding of the situation.
Don’t Avoid Medical Treatment
Some injuries aren’t noticeable until days or weeks after a car accident. Even if you think that a new ache or pain might be unrelated, have a physician examine you as soon as possible. If the doctor recommends treatment, follow the plan diligently. Insurance companies will point to gaps in medical treatment in an attempt to minimize your injuries and diminish your claim. Don’t let them.
Don’t Admit Fault
Feelings of embarrassment are natural surrounding a car accident, but don’t make any statements to the other driver in which you accept responsibility for what happened. That’s a legal judgment that isn’t yours to make. Focus on taking care of yourself and your passengers and let the investigative process take its course. You don’t want to weaken a justified claim unnecessarily.
Don’t Talk To Insurance Companies On Your Own
An insurance company’s main objective is to make money, and the primary way they do that is by underpaying insurance claims. The offer you receive from another driver’s insurance company may be far less than you deserve, especially if medical bills are involved in addition to car repair.
It's possible that you may have to go to trial to get the compensation to which you’re entitled. If this is the case, a knowledgeable attorney will be your best advocate. In the aftermath of an accident, keep as clear a head as you can and don’t do anything to worsen an already bad situation. If you can avoid that, you’ll be ahead of the game.