If you get into a car accident, you face a potentially overwhelming experience. Due to your injuries and stress, you can easily forget to do a number of things that will be important as you pursue a claim for just compensation.
As a law firm that works closely with auto accident victims and their families in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York State, we have seen a number of common mistakes that people make in the aftermath of a crash.
Here, we present a list of those mistakes – and tips on how to avoid them.
1. Failing to Seek Medical Care
Many auto accident victims believe that their injuries are minor and do not require treatment. As a result, they fail to get medical attention by going to the emergency room or by visiting their regular doctor.
Even though they feel pain, some crash victims fail to seek medical attention because they are concerned about the costs of health care.
However, your health should be your top priority after an accident. Regardless of whether you “feel OK” or have concerns about costs, you should still get checked for injuries. Also, you need to keep in mind that medical bills following an auto accident are usually paid by your no-fault auto insurance.
In some situations, a person may suffer a concussion, whiplash, organ damage or a lower back injury without immediately realizing the nature and severity of the injury. This is why it is crucial to get examined, diagnosed and started on a course of treatment as soon as possible.
Additionally, the longer you wait to see a medical professional, the more room it gives an insurance company to argue that your injuries are unrelated to your crash or as serious as you claim.
2. Failing to Report the Accident to the Police
It is actually against the law in New York to fail to report an accident to the police if it results in more than $1,000 in property damage or causes an injury or death.
If you fail to report your crash to the police, it also means that you will not have an accident report on file. This report can be helpful during the claims process. Your lawyer will likely use this report as a launching point in the investigation of your claim.
When you speak with a police officer at the accident scene, make sure to provide all information that the officer requests. Stick to the facts. You should not admit fault or assign fault to anyone else. Fault can only be determined after a careful and comprehensive investigation.
3. Failing to Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
You may have been paying your premiums on your no-fault insurance on time and in full. Still, if you fail to report your accident or file your claim with your insurance company within the time period specified in your policy, your claim may be denied.
You can easily avoid this mistake by complying with what your insurance company requires. Again, when you submit your report, stick to the facts. Provide the basic information that you are asked to provide. If you would prefer, your lawyer can report the accident for you.
4. Talking with the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
New York is a no-fault car insurance state. This means that you and the other driver involved in the auto accident should file a claim with your own respective insurance companies regardless of who caused the accident.
However, you may also be eligible to file a claim against the other driver and pursue compensation that goes beyond what no-fault insurance provides.
You have the right to file a lawsuit in the event that you or a loved one sustains “serious injuries,” or injuries resulting in:
- Serious disfigurement
- Loss of fetus
- Permanent loss of a bodily function
- Impairment that affects the ability to perform daily activities for 90 days or more following the accident.
If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, you should refer the insurer to your lawyer. Do not give a recorded statement. Do not give the insurer permission to access your medical records, either.
The insurer will be looking for ways to use your statements and medical records against you. Your lawyer, on the other hand, will be squarely focused on protecting your rights.
5. Failing to Hire an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
Many people believe that hiring a lawyer will complicate their efforts to collect compensation after an accident. They may also believe that they cannot afford to hire an attorney. These are misconceptions.
First, most personal injury lawyers (including our law firm) represent clients on contingency fee basis. You pay the lawyer no fees for his or her legal services unless the lawyer obtains compensation for you. If a settlement or verdict is obtained on your behalf, the lawyer is paid from an agreed-upon percentage of your recovery.
Second, rather than complicating the process, a lawyer can actually improve your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation by conducting a thorough investigation, consulting with experts, dealing with the insurance companies and, if necessary, taking your case to trial.
The benefits of working with a lawyer far outweigh the risks that you face if you decide to pursue compensation without legal guidance and representation.
Our New York Car Accident Attorneys Can Help You
Avoid making costly mistakes after you or a loved one is involved in an auto accident. Instead, contact Powers & Santola, LLP. We can provide a free consultation today.
When you work with our legal team, you will have skilled and experienced legal professionals at your side that will pursue the maximum amount of compensation for you.