If you suffered injuries in a car accident someone else caused, you may be able to seek compensation from those responsible. Although you have legal rights to pursue fair compensation from the at-fault driver or other parties involved, the legal process is complex, and the other party’s insurance company may try various tactics to reduce the amount they will pay on your claim or deny your claim altogether.
You want to ensure you receive the full financial recovery you need, and you want to avoid making common mistakes that could derail your chances of receiving a fair settlement. Your top priority is to seek medical attention for your injuries, no matter how minor they may seem. As soon as you’re able, you then want to contact an experienced car accident attorney for a full evaluation of your claim and advice regarding your rights and options to pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other losses.
If you have questions about what to do if you are ever involved in a crash, consider reaching out to Berry Law’s knowledgeable team of attorneys. One of our steadfast legal advocates can help you avoid common mistakes after a car accident in Omaha and guide you through the process to improve your odds of getting maximum compensation.
What Not to Do Following a Car Accident
You do not want to do something, whether intentionally or not, to jeopardize your chances of getting full and fair compensation for your crash-related injuries. Consider the following common mistakes you want to avoid after being involved in a car accident in Omaha or anywhere in Nebraska:
Leaving the Accident Scene of an Omaha Car Accident
It’s against the law to leave the scene of an accident in Nebraska if you know an accident occurred. Even if the accident is a minor fender bender with no injuries, you could still face a misdemeanor criminal charge with penalties that could include jail time and hefty fines if you were aware an accident happened and left anyway.
Failing to Report the Accident to a Police Officer
In Nebraska, you must report any accident involving injuries or fatalities or a crash that results in property damage over $1,000. Property damage can include your car, the other driver’s car, or other personal or public property. You must report the accident to law enforcement within 10 days of the crash. Failing to report a crash when you’re required to can result in misdemeanor criminal charges.
Forgetting to Collect the Other Driver’s Insurance and Contact Information
The time following an accident can be traumatic and stressful, and you may not be thinking clearly. However, you want to remember to exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved in the crash. The contact and insurance information you want to obtain includes:
- Their name, address, and phone number
- Their driver’s license and license plate numbers
- Their insurance information, including their policy number and the insurer’s phone number
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Not Getting Witness Statements and Info
If there were any witnesses to the accident, you need to ensure you get their statements and contact information. Witness statements can provide valuable evidence as to how the accident happened and who was at fault. You want to get their contact information and share it with your attorney so they can follow up with the witness and depose them to get their testimony.
Failing to Collect Evidence at the Scene
Right after an accident is the best time to collect as much evidence as you can. You want to take pictures of the accident scene, including any skid marks, road conditions, and weather conditions. You also want to take photos of the wreckage and your injuries.
You must also keep copies of your medical bills, treatment records, and other related information pertaining to any medical attention you received for your injuries. Additionally, keep track of your expenses by saving receipts for anything you paid out of pocket associated with the accident and getting medical care.
This information will be vital for your attorney to prove how the accident happened and the extent of the injuries and losses you sustained.
Admitting Fault for the Auto Collison in Omaha
It is a common mistake to admit fault at the scene of a car accident in Omaha because of your obligation to your insurance company. When you sign up with an insurance company, you are obligated to not take any action that prejudices the rights of the insurance company or their policy in defending you. In other words, you cannot take any action that would impede your insurance company’s ability to defend you legitimately.
Depending on the nature of what you say at the scene of a car accident, the insurance company could allege that you failed to adhere to their policy and may no longer cover you under this plan as a result of what they consider a breach of the terms and conditions of their contract. That means you would not have insurance, and you would be personally responsible for your losses.
Furthermore, there is a doctrine in state civil law called “admission by party opponent.” If you admit fault or apologize at the scene of a crash, the defendant can come to court and relay that admission to the jury or judge. This is persuasive evidence in court, so you risk losing your case before it even starts by admitting fault or apologizing at the scene of the collision.
Refusing Immediate Medical Treatment
Refusing immediate medical treatment after being involved in an Omaha car accident is a mistake. The insurance adjuster will say that you were not actually hurt that badly because you did not go to a doctor. The insurance defense attorney will claim that you are lying about the extent of your injuries. Refusing medical care after a car wreck allows the other party’s insurance company to argue that you are not actually injured.
People typically refuse treatment initially because they do not realize how severe their injuries actually are and think they are okay in the moment. Another reason is that they do not have insurance and know that once they go to the emergency room, they are going to face thousands of dollars in hospital bills, depending on the extent of the treatment they receive.
Failing to Follow Doctors’ Orders
In the aftermath of an Omaha car accident, it is a mistake to not follow doctors’ orders or follow up with medical treatment. Failing to follow doctors’ orders impacts your case because it allows the insurance company to argue that you failed to mitigate your damages, and that your failure to follow treatment recommendations is the real cause of your present condition. The mistake of not following up with medical treatment gives the insurance company the argument that you are not actually injured.
Giving Recorded Statements to the Defendant’s Insurance Company
Giving recorded statements to the other driver’s insurance company before consulting with an attorney gives the insurance company a free deposition which can be used against you. They are looking for a reason to provide the best defense possible for their insured party. People make admissions to insurance adjusters without truly understanding what they are saying, and recorded statements are often taken out of context.
You may be called shortly after the accident while you are still being treated and under the influence of medications. Under these circumstances, you may make some statements that are not totally true that may be taken out of context, or do not reflect the actual facts of your case.
Posting About the Accident on Social Media
You never want to post anything about the accident on social media. Although you may want to keep friends and acquaintances updated, you should never discuss details about the crash or make any assumptions or presumptions about the accident’s cause, the extent of your injuries, or anything else that could come back to haunt you.
The insurance company’s lawyers could see what you post and use it against you. Even if you have your social media profile set to private, there are ways other parties can see what you posted, such as through screenshots and other means. It’s best not to post anything at all. If you need to inform family or friends of the crash or update them on your status, you should do so offline.
Accepting the Initial Settlement Offer
Another thing you want to avoid following a car accident in Omaha or anywhere in Nebraska is accepting the first settlement offer from the insurance company. Many times, these initial settlements are lowball offers to try and save the insurance company money. The insurer knows that car accident victims are in a vulnerable position due to missing work because of their injuries and having to pay for medical treatment plus the costs to repair or replace their damaged property.
By offering a quick settlement, the insurance company hopes the injured claimant will rush to accept the money and move on. However, these initial settlement offers are usually too low to fully cover the victim’s injuries and losses.
It’s usually best to refuse an initial settlement offer from the insurance company, and you should discuss the situation with a qualified car accident attorney before making a decision. A lawyer can fully evaluate your claim and help you assess your damages.
Keep in mind that once you accept a settlement, you cannot go back and try to obtain additional compensation later. Once you accept the settlement, your case will be closed, and the settlement agreement will become legally binding.
Speak with an attorney before accepting any settlement to ensure it’s in your best interests. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurer to help get you a significant settlement that will compensate you for all your damages. If the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and sue them in civil court.
You also want to contact an attorney if the insurance company tries to deny coverage or acts in bad faith regarding any part of their insurance policy, your insurance claim, or the settlement agreement. These are also grounds for litigation.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney to Avoid Making Crucial Mistakes after an Auto Accident in Omaha
It can be a mistake to fail to contact an attorney right after a car accident. Without proper legal guidance from an experienced injury attorney in Omaha, you risk giving a damaging statement to the insurance company. Failing to receive medical treatment at the scene of a collision and subsequently failing to follow up with doctors’ orders could be detrimental to your claim for compensation. Let a member of Berry Law’s legal team help you understand the mistakes to avoid after a car accident in Omaha by calling our firm today for a free consultation.