From minor fender benders to serious head-on collisions, car accidents affect the lives of millions of Americans each year. Hopefully, you'll never become one of these statistics; if you ever do find yourself in a car accident (no matter how serious), there are some common mistakes you'll want to avoid — especially as it relates to your potential insurance settlement.
Downplaying or Overlooking Your Injuries
After an accident, your body's natural response is to release adrenaline, which is the "fight or flight" hormone. This hormone can be beneficial and sometimes even life-saving because it causes your body to redirect blood flow to major muscle groups, heighten your sense of awareness, and even mask pain. The problem with adrenaline arises when it masks pain to the point that you don't realize you've been injured, as is often the case with whiplash.
Even if you were in a minor accident and don't experience any symptoms of an injury, it's in your best interest to be checked out by a doctor. They will be able to perform a thorough exam to ensure any injuries haven't been overlooked. And in the event that pain or other symptoms arise after-the-fact, having documentation that you received medical attention after your accident can make it easier to reach a fair settlement with the insurance company.
Admitting Fault After an Accident
No matter who you believe may have been at-fault for your car accident, it's important that you do not admit or even imply that you caused or contributed to the incident. Unfortunately, providing any statement of remorse or possible guilt could be used against you if and when you try to seek an insurance settlement down the road. For this reason, it's best to keep quiet and limit your interactions with others involved, aside from the essentials (like exchanging insurance information).
Accepting Your First Settlement Offer
If you receive a settlement offer from the insurance company to cover your medical expenses and other damage, scrutinize it carefully. In many cases, the insurance company's first attempt at a settlement will be a "low-ball" offer, so it may be worth rejecting it and pursuing more. This is especially important if the settlement proposed isn't enough to cover your expenses related to the accident.
Time to Consult With an Auto Accident Lawyer?
Now that you're aware of the most common mistakes to avoid after an accident, what's one of the best things you can do if you're involved in an auto accident? Consult with an auto accident attorney. They will represent your best interests and help you navigate the complex process of pursuing a fair insurance settlement.