Three things to avoid in the aftermath of an auto accident
Accidents happen. Even the most skilled and cautious drivers can be involved in car accidents, and can experience lost time, injury, or in the worst cases, death to operators or passengers. The frequency of accidents and the potential for legal actions resulting in large monetary judgments mandate caution in the aftermath as well.
What actions to avoid
There are several actions which should be avoided following an accident. Probably the most important is leaving the scene before being released by the police personnel investigating. In some states leaving the scene of an accident is illegal, even to transport an injured party to a medical facility. It is a bad idea to move injured persons before professional medical help arrives, as doing so can exacerbate injuries or even cause more extensive damage, possibly leaving one open to legal actions. Additionally, leaving the scene for any reason, whether illegal or not means that the other involved parties’ versions of causative factors and events will be the ones formalized in police and insurance reports. Trusting a stranger to be truthful is never a good practice.
Another action to avoid is signing any document other than what is requested by the police. A seemingly innocent signature can be construed as an admission of fault, guilt or acceptance of responsibility. There is no reason to furnish anything to the other parties involved in the incident other than contact information and insurance documentation. A verbal concession can have the same adverse consequences as a signature as well, especially if witnessed by a third party.
Some time after the accident an insurance company attorney or other representative will contact you, and attempt to settle all actions by obtaining a release, often offering an immediate cash settlement. This is never as it seems. Signing a release or accepting a check can prevent payment of all future expenses related to the accident, including treatment of any injuries, some of which may not show up for days or weeks later. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and their representatives are trained to limit payments when possible. Even your own insurer may attempt to close out the case. Remember, they are not hired by you, and do not necessarily have your best interests at heart.
Probably the most important thing for you to do following an accident is to consult with an attorney who has experience with auto accident cases. The experienced attorneys at Martin Law Office, S.C can protect your best interests and ensure that the accident does not irreparably alter your own life in a negative way.