Getting into a car accident is always disconcerting. First, there’s disbelief. Then, there’s anger. You look around to make sure your loved ones are ok, then get out of the car to deal with the other driver. While it may be tempting in the heat of the moment to say everything that’s running through your mind, that’s rarely the best course of action. So, what should you do? What should you say? How can you ensure that you protect yourself and get compensation for your damages?
5 Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
1. Do Not Admit Fault
Even if you got distracted when a phone notification came in, or if your significant other and you were joking around and you took your eyes off the road for a split second. Just don’t mention it. If it concerns you that much, tell it to your lawyer and see what you can do about it. But don’t tell the other driver when you get out of the car after the accident. You don’t know if the other driver was distracted too. If they were speeding, driving under the influence, or replying to a text while you were also scrolling, then you were both negligent. This is important because Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction — meaning that whatever you can recover will be diminished from the total amount of damages, while still holding the other party accountable for their own percentage of liability.
2. Do Not Drive Away Without Calling the Police
You don’t always have to call the police after a car accident. However, it’s required by law under certain circumstances. These include if someone was driving under the influence, if a car was totaled and had to be towed, if someone is complaining of pain, if a commercial vehicle was involved, or if there was a death at the scene. If none of these apply to you, still get as much information as possible at the scene of the accident — full name and contact information of the other driver and all witnesses, as well as the names of the cross streets. Take pictures of your car and the other vehicle from all angles, and take pictures of physical injuries of anyone involved in the accident.
3. Do Not Assume You’re Not Injured
Even if it was a minor accident, it’s possible to have experienced internal injuries and not be aware of it — especially because adrenaline numbs your body to pain. However, waiting to get examined can be detrimental to your case in several ways. First, Florida Law requires all car insurance policies to cover up to $10,000 in medical injuries, regardless of who was at fault. However, you have to file such a claim within 14 days from the date of the accident. Also, the longer you wait, the more likely the other driver’s attorney will try to pin your injuries on something else, such as work duties, working out, hobbies — anything that will diminish their client’s liability.
4. Do Not Talk With the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The opposing party in a litigation lawsuit is not the other driver — it’s their insurance company. They will assign an adjuster and an attorney to the case, and if you’re not represented by your own lawyer, they will call you during the course of their investigation. It doesn’t matter how nice, cordial, or reasonable they may sound. Their job is to limit their client’s liability, and the only way to do so is to use your own words against you. If you don’t have an attorney by the time you receive a first phone call, tell them you’d rather speak with an attorney first, then have your lawyer contact them.
5. Do Not Post Anything on Social Media
If you don’t want it read out loud in a deposition or shown as images at trial, don’t post it on social media. This includes any statutes venting your frustrations about the case, or any pictures showing you playing basketball with your friends — despite the fact that you’re claiming back and neck injuries after the accident. Even if your settings are set to private, you don’t know who knows whom, or who will tag you where.
Call Clark Law If You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best next step. We can also get all your ducks in a row when it comes to gathering evidence to help you maximize your recovery.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.