10 Mistakes People Make After a Car Accident
Car accidents can be a shocking experience. People often experience emotional and physical trauma following a car wreck. Since they are in a vulnerable state and may not be thinking clearly, it’s common for car accident victims to make mistakes. Doing or saying the wrong things after an accident can affect the amount of money you receive in a settlement. To help you avoid this costly error, the personal injury lawyers at Patterson legal group list 10 common car accident mistakes they see accident victims make.
1. Going on Record With the Insurance Company
Claims adjusters from insurance companies often tell accident victims that it is standard procedure to make a recorded statement before the insurance company will make a settlement offer. While this may be a company policy, it is not the law. Insurance adjusters use tactics to reduce your settlement offer or they may pass the information along to insurance company lawyers to use against you if your case goes to trial.
Recorded statements may be taken out of context and interpreted in ways you never intended. The best rule is to handle all communication with an insurance company through a lawyer representing your best interests.
In a small number of cases, such as a claim involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist, the law might obligate you to give a recorded statement. Our team often works with clients when recorded statements are required, making sure statements are made in a controlled environment to ensure statements are made as intended.
2. Thinking That the Car Insurance Company Is on Your Side
Insurance companies are not evil. The people that work for insurance companies–claims adjusters, lawyers, and other employees–are by and large good and decent folks. Some people are under the false impression that being a loyal customer, sometimes for years or decades, means that their insurance company will be loyal to them. This is definitely not the case.
Remember, insurance companies are profit-driven businesses. Their obligation is to the company’s bottom line and their shareholders. With that in mind, their goal is to pay you as little as possible or not at all, if possible. Accident victims that think that their insurance company is on their side is one of the most common car accident mistakes our team sees.
3. Common Car Accident Mistakes: Demanding Too Much or Too Little
The consequences of demanding a low settlement may seem obvious. In serious injury cases, such as catastrophic injuries, you may be facing medical expenses for the rest of your life and your overall quality of life may be permanently altered. A low settlement releases a defendant or insurance company from ever having to pay in the future.
The consequences of demanding too much may also be just as damaging. If your demand is unreasonable then you may be sending a red flag to an insurance company, indicating you do not understand the value of your case.
What’s the danger in not understanding the value? When the insurance company finds out you have overvalue or undervalue your claim, you risk sending the implicit message you might be willing to settle your case for less than its actual value because you do not understand how much the case is worth.
The car accident lawyers at Patterson Legal Group have extensive experience serving injury victims in Kansas and Missouri. They know how to accurately assess the settlement value of an accident and get just claims from insurance companies. Let our knowledgeable injury attorneys negotiate for you, so that you can focus on recovery.
4. Assuming the Insurance Company will Stand Behind Who is Liable for the Accident
Insurance companies commonly admit to accident victims their client was responsible for an accident, and they want to settle the case. Our legal team has found that their willingness to settle changes later in the settlement process or once a lawsuit has been filed. This is the reason our firm proceeds through the collection of witnesses and other facts as though the case will go to trial–even after the insurance company says that “they will take care of you.”
In some cases, the insurance company will continue to admit liability for their client, but it is still important to collect and organize details of each accident. Collection of evidence in your case may seem unnecessary once the insurance company has admitted fault, but it helps you get a fair settlement faster, especially when the insurance company changes their stance.
5. Common Car Accident Mistakes: Accepting a “Final Offer”
Some insurance companies have internal policies that require every offer to be presented directly or indirectly as a “final offer.” It may be difficult for those representing themselves to push or demand a higher offer, especially when a person lacks the leverage to do so. A threat to sue or take the insurance company to court, may be viewed as empty without the means to actually follow through. Accordingly, many victims will take the first offer and leave money they are entitled to for damages or injuries on the table.
In the personal injury business, our firm has found there is sometimes a “final offer” and then a “final, final, final, offer.” These numbers are almost always very far apart.
6. Settling a Case Without Knowing the Extent of Your Injuries
If you’ve been seriously injured and you need a “quick settlement,” then it’s very likely you will receive much less than the full value of your accident case. In order to persuade an insurance company, judge or jury, a reason to make you an appropriate offer, you will need your medical bills and records or testimony from your doctor or other medical expert about the extent and scope of your injuries. If you settle your case before you have this documentation, there is little to no chance of receiving fair value. To stress the importance of this, our firm will not consider taking a case if a client wants to settle before a medical expert understands the full scope of a client’s injuries.
7. Common Car Accident Mistakes: Not Seeing a Doctor
Not seeing a doctor immediately after a car accident is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Not only can this cost you financially, as outlined in the point above, but it may have repercussions that can affect your health for years or even the rest of your life. Even if you feel fine after an accident, you may have suffered significant injuries. In some cases, adrenalin can make signs of an injury, while some damage may take days or weeks before signs are shown.
Patterson Legal Group highly recommends seeing a doctor after a car accident, even if you feel great. A medical professional with experience in car accident trauma will know what signs to look for and may pick up on injuries that you’re not even feeling. If your doctor does not have experience in this area, our team can connect you with top medical professionals in Kansas and Missouri that are familiar with car accident injuries.
8. Not Filing a Police Report
As mentioned above, documenting your accident is an essential part of getting the settlement that you deserve. One of the first things that you should do immediately after an accident is call the police. If someone nearby your accident has already called the police then make sure that they file a report. The official police report can have information that could go a long way towards maximizing your settlement.
Here are some police report links for your reference:
Kansas Police Reports
Missouri Police Reports
Remember, the legal professionals at Patterson Legal Group can gather the necessary documents on your behalf, including police reports. Let our team handle all the tedious paperwork so that you can focus on rest and recovery.
9. Common Car Accident Mistakes: Assuming the System All Makes Sense
A majority of Kansas and Missouri accident law has evolved over time. The law responds to meet different objectives over the years, sometimes changing from political swings or in an effort to achieve fairness. The result of these changes is a system that is often counterintuitive. Benefits go to those who best understand the system and the law, leaving many victims and inexperienced accident lawyers with the short end of the stick. In some instances, the law may be confusing where you encounter what you think is an established “rule of the road” when in reality it is not the law.
10. Failing to understand Interplay with Liens
Accident victims are busy getting their life back on track and do not understand how to deal with health insurance and health care liens. There are instances where your actual recovery may be higher if you work with an attorney that understands how to resolve lien problems with the case. In a few instances, this is even more important than how well an attorney negotiated the settlement of a case. Our team has found mistakes with liens generally fall into two extremes: (1) paying your health insurer (or Medicare or Medicaid) more than you are obligated to pay and (2) jeopardizing future health insurance coverage because you did not understand your lien obligations. Our attorneys work with each client to help them understand the complications of liens and their legal options and remedies available to maximize recovery.
Contact Patterson Legal Group
The team at Patterson Legal Group hopes that you have a better understanding of common car accident mistakes. Please share this guide with your family and friends so that the people closest to you avoid these mistakes. To help make sure that you get maximum compensation for your medical bills, ongoing treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more, contact us today for a free consultation.
Our Kansas and Missouri injury lawyers have more than 75 years of combined experience recovering high settlements for injury victims. Put our experience to work for you so that you can recover from your injuries knowing that your legal affairs are being expertly handled.
You can reach Patterson Legal Group 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone at (888) 687-2400 and online through LiveChat or secure contact form. Our “no win, no fee” lawyers do not charge any fees unless money has been recovered on your behalf. In addition to winning great settlements for our clients, we’ve also earned a reputation for strong customer service. Take the first step towards getting the money that you deserve for your injury and reach out to us today.