You've been in a car accident, you know that there's damage, but you're scared of the steps you need to take to protect your rights. This is a common scenario that drivers find themselves in, and it's a scary scenario, too.
A car accident can have lifelong repercussions, and you need to take the right actions at this time.
The immediate things that you must do are:
- Move your car somewhere safe if it's a hazard
- Leave the vehicle if it's on fire or smoking
- Call the police
If you don't need to move the vehicle, leave it in the exact location of the accident. Police will use the vehicle's positioning to try and make sense of the accident. These are the immediate things that you must do.
Photos and videos of the accident scene will also serve as evidence. You'll want to avoid moving if you have injuries that you believe are serious. Above all else, your health is the most important thing to worry about after an accident.
But if you're still in good health and are in a car accident, you'll want to avoid making these common mistakes.
1. Never Leave the Accident Scene
Never, under any circumstance, leave the scene of an accident until you get the go-ahead from the police. The only circumstance that is acceptable is if you need emergency medical treatment. Otherwise, you want to stay at the scene of the accident.
If the accident involves serious injury or death, you might be in serious legal trouble if you leave the accident scene.
2. Never Admit Fault in an Accident
There's one thing that all lawyers can agree on: never admit fault. The problem is that you're not a lawyer, and even if you think the accident was your fault, this may not be the case. Don't reach any conclusions of your own at this point in the accident.
Fault is determined by:
- Events leading to the accident
Even something as silly as stating that you "could have paid more attention" may be a key item used against you during an accident claim. The best thing to do is never admit fault.
3. Never Discuss the Events with the Opposing Insurance Company
An attorney will deal with the insurance company, ensuring that you're not doing or saying anything to get yourself into legal trouble. Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company, and they want to pay out as little as possible.
Adjusters do not work for you.
But if the accident is minor, you may be able to negotiate the following with the opposing insurance company:
- Total loss
- Rental car reimbursement
If you're suing the opposing driver, you'll want to let your attorney do all of the talking on your behalf.
4. Don't Go on Social Media Revealing Every Last Detail of the Accident
Social media has a lot of people causing their own demise in lawsuits. You might go on social media and explain your entire story, and this can be used against you. But what's even worse is that the pictures you share can also be misconstrued.
That's right, those harmless selfies can be used against you.
A prime example of this is someone suing for personal injuries that have lowered their quality of life. If you have pictures showing yourself out with friends, drinking and having a good time, the defense can use this against you.
You also want to caution friends and family against posting photos of you.
A good rule of thumb is: if the post can be used against you, don't post it.
Privacy settings can also help by allowing you greater control over who can post and tag you in pictures.
5. Never Wait to Make a Claim or File a Lawsuit
There are statutes of limitations in every state, and if you wait too long, you'll miss your window of opportunity to make a claim or file a lawsuit. has a great list of each state's statutes. Some states require you to make a claim within two years, while others allow up to four years to make a claim.
If you're considering filing a lawsuit, talk to a lawyer and find out what your options are.
You'll need to have proper documentation and medical proof that you sustained injuries that were related to the accident.