Car accidents happen all the time in the United States, often resulting in injuries and significant property damage. These incidents can also cause uncertainty when it comes to who is responsible. It is not uncommon for people to experience car accidents and then make critical errors that jeopardize their ability to secure compensation for their damages. If you have recently suffered any losses from a car accident in California, it is vital to avoid the following common mistakes.
Do Not Accept an Insurance Settlement Right Away
Typically, the first step toward recovery for an injured driver is to file an insurance claim against an at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. California follows a fault-based system for determining liability for car accidents in the state, and every licensed driver must purchase and maintain auto insurance coverage that meets the state’s minimum requirements for coverage. An auto insurance policy in California must provide a minimum of 15/30/5 coverage, meaning at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, $30,000 or more in total accident liability coverage, and $5,000 or more in property damage liability coverage.
Unfortunately, a minimum coverage policy is unlikely to cover the full scope of damages from a serious car accident. When an injured driver must file an insurance claim for coverage, they must consult an attorney to avoid the risk of accepting too low of a settlement and losing the ability to seek further compensation for their losses.
Do Not Talk About Your Accident on Social Media
No matter how your accident occurred, if you plan to pursue any type of legal action following the accident, you should not talk about it publicly, especially on social media. Anything you post to a social media page, even if it is in a “private” chat or you return later and delete the post, can be used to contradict claims made in a car accident case. For example, if your car accident claim involves damages for a broken leg and a few weeks after you file your case you post a picture of you dancing, hiking, or doing anything else that would appear to contradict your claim, this could significantly hamper your ability to secure damages for your injury.
It is typically best to avoid social media as much as possible if you are involved in any type of legal matter. While you can browse your social media feeds passively, it is wise to avoid posting or uploading anything until your case reaches its conclusion.
See a Doctor Immediately After Your Accident
Another major misstep that many drivers make is neglecting to seek medical care after an accident. Even if you believe your injuries are only minor, it is best to have a physician examine you. This can help you catch hidden injuries and delayed symptoms as soon as possible and also establishes the fact that you appropriately sought medical attention.
Call the Police Right Away
Another common error many California drivers make after experiencing car accidents is neglecting to call the police to report an accident immediately after it occurs. California state law requires all drivers to report any accident resulting in injury or significant property damage. If there is any doubt as to whether you should report a car accident, it is best to err on the side of caution and call the police to report it immediately. This will generate a police report of the incident and establish the fact that you took appropriate responsibility by contacting the police immediately.
Failing to call the police could not only complicate future legal proceedings but also lead to legal penalties. Leaving the scene of an accident or failing to report an accident to the police as required, could lead to fines or even jail time, depending on the severity of the situation. After an accident, call 911 immediately to report it and wait for help to arrive.
Do Not Admit Fault
When the police investigate your accident, they will want to take a statement from you. Even if you believe you are at least partially responsible for the accident, do apologize or suggest guilt at all. Answer the officer’s questions honestly and concisely but avoid saying anything that might be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Any statements you make are recorded in the police report and could be used against you in an insurance claim adjustment or in a civil action against another driver.
Secure Legal Representation Right Away
If you think there is any reason to believe another party is responsible for your car accident, it is essential to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. The sooner you connect with a reliable attorney, the sooner you can begin building your case. If you are ready to take legal action for a recent car accident, the Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC can provide the legal counsel you need and clarify your legal options. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary case evaluation.