The things drivers do and say in the hours and days immediately following a car accident can have a direct impact on whether they will be able to recover compensation for their injuries. A minor car accident can cause even the most reserved driver to become irritable, angry, or unreasonable, and more serious accidents often leave victims dazed, confused, and disoriented.
While it’s possible an accident has left you shaken up or injured too severely to think clearly, it’s important to do your best to adhere to some basic guidelines. Below is information about some things drivers should avoid doing after a car accident. For more information or for answers to specific questions regarding your case, call our office today.
Don’t Apologize or Admit Fault in Any Way
After an accident, the first inclination of many drivers is to apologize for the accident and see what they can do to rectify the situation. In almost any other situation, apologizing for an incident, even if it was not entirely your fault is generally thought of as good manners and is often encouraged.
Unfortunately, apologizing after an accident can often be used later as an admission of liability. Examples of the kinds of statements that could potentially be viewed as an admission of fault include the following:
- “Sorry, I received a text and looked down at my phone.”
- “I knew I should have had my brakes checked.”
- “I’m exhausted from work, I may have dozed off for a moment”
- “Sorry, I must have missed you in my blind spot”
Even if these statements are true, it is not necessarily the case that the conduct the speaker is admitting was the cause of the accident. For example, even if a driver was tired when an accident occurred, the accident may have actually been caused by another driver running a stop sign and not the tired driver’s delayed reaction time. For this reason, it is important to say as little as possible about the specifics of the accident and avoid apologizing to other parties involved.
Don’t Post Content on Social Media that May Call the Severity of Your Injuries into Question
These days, sharing photos and thoughts on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter has become a daily way of life for many people. It is hard to find a Facebook news feed that’s not filled with baby pictures, political rants, shared articles, or even photos of a person’s Tuesday afternoon lunch. Certainly, an event as significant (and hopefully uncommon) as involvement in a car accident would be deemed by many to be social media worthy.
However, many people don’t realize that social media usage can have implications for a car accident victim’s ability to recover compensation. In many car accident cases, the most significant source of recovery comes from compensation for pain and suffering and the way in which injuries have limited a victim’s day-to-day activities.
If a car accident victim claims to be in significant pain and unable to engage in daily activities without discomfort, it contradict those claims to post pictures of going out with friends, exercising, traveling, or engaging in other leisure activities that tend to indicate good health. As social media posts are generally considered public, an opposing attorney or the at-fault party’s insurance company could use these kinds of posts as a justification to lower or even completely withdraw a settlement offer.
Don’t Discuss the Accident with the Other Party’s Insurance Company or Lawyer
It’s not uncommon for people that have been involved in car accidents to receive phone calls from the other party’s insurance company or attorney shortly after an accident occurs. It is important for victims to remember that the other party’s attorney is ethically bound to represent his or her client’s interests.
In addition, insurance companies are in the business of making money and train their adjusters to minimize the amount paid out on claims. Consequently, any attempts at communication made by anyone representing the other party to an accident should be declined. The best course of action is to refer calls from opposing counsel or an insurance company other than your own to your attorney.
Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer Made
Another practice which is relatively common is for an insurance company to make a settlement offer shortly after an accident occurs but before the victim has an opportunity to fully evaluate his or her losses. In many cases, settlement offers made under these conditions are unreasonably low and are just a fraction of the total claim.
Accurately determining how much a car accident claim is worth is difficult for people who are unfamiliar with California personal injury law, and victims regularly undervalue their claims by a significant amount. The kinds of losses that are often recoverable after a serious car accident include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
Importantly, California law allows for victims to recover both for the losses they have already realized and those they will experience in the future. For this reason, in cases where victims have incurred injuries that may prevent them from returning to work, it is often necessary to enlist the assistance of expert witnesses.
These witnesses can testify to the amount of money the victim would have earned over the course of his or her career had it not been for the accident. Our law firm has developed an extensive network of experts and physicians to help our clients get the compensation to which they are legally entitled.
Contact a California Car Accident Law Firm Today to Retain an Experienced Attorney
Car accident victims who are not familiar with California personal injury law run the risk of doing or saying things that may jeopardize their ability to recover compensation for their injuries. For this reason, it is important for anyone who has been involved in an accident to retain an attorney as soon as possible.
Once you have an attorney, you can refer questions or requests for information to your lawyer who will ensure that all possible steps are taken to preserve your legal rights. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call GJEL accident attorneys today at 866-218-3776 or send us an email through our online contact form.