Did you know that what you do in the hours and weeks following the collision can make or break your car accident lawsuit?
Although these post-accident do’s and don’ts from our friends at Cohen & Cohen can’t replace professional advice from a skilled car accident lawyer, they can help you avoid common mistakes car accident victims make that could jeopardize their claim.
DO SEE A DOCTOR
Even a collision at slow speeds can cause a painful injury like whiplash, seatbelt contusions, or a mild concussion. The feeling you attribute to “just being shaken up” could actually indicate a serious injury. A medical exam identifies the extent of your harm.
Plus, your post-accident medical records are valuable evidence linking your injuries to the accident.
DON’T POST ABOUT THE ACCIDENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Try to stay off socials as much as you can, actually. There’s a good chance that the other driver’s lawyer or insurance company is checking your Instagram or Facebook for evidence that you aren’t hurt as badly as you claim. Any photos you share or posts you make could be used to discredit you.
DO REPORT THE ACCIDENT
Your insurance policy may have a deadline for reporting any accident, even a minor one. If you fail to notify your carrier about the crash, you risk invalidating the policy.
You must also report the accident to the Oregon DMV if anyone is injured or if there is more than $2,500 worth of property damage. State law requires the accident to be reported within 72 hours, or you could face stiff fines.
DON’T TALK TO THE OTHER DRIVER’S INSURANCE COMPANY
Don’t be surprised if you receive a call from the other driver’s insurance adjuster asking for a statement about the accident. They may sound very serious and official, but you’re not their customer. You don’t have to say anything to them. The call is often to get information from you that makes it seem like you caused the wreck or at least contributed the greater part of the blame.
Instead, you can refer the insurance adjuster to your lawyer.
DON’T NEGLECT YOUR DOCTOR’S ORDERS
Follow the directions your doctor gives you. It will help you have the best possible chance for recovery and demonstrate to the other side that you truly were injured. Your medical records will be part of the information exchanged with the other driver’s lawyer during the discovery phase of your case, so if your records show that you’re skipping appointments or physical therapy, then their lawyer could argue that you’re “faking it.”
DO TALK TO A LAWYER
A personal injury attorney can handle all the conversations with the other party on your behalf, including talking to their lawyer or insurance company. In addition, evidence can disappear fast, so the sooner your car accident lawyer gets started on your case, the better. Your car accident lawyer may use this to justify a higher amount for your non-economic (pain and suffering) damages.