In your quest to become a kinder person, you might focus on being patient, understanding, and social. Unfortunately, if you are involved in a serious car accident that wasn't your fault, practicing your skills could cause problems in court. Here are two simple mistakes that can ruin your personal injury case, and how you can avoid trouble:
1: Not Calling the Police
After you step out of the car after an accident, you might be more concerned about the health of everyone involved than you are about your own personal liability. If the cars are still driveable and everyone looks okay, you might be tempted to skip the hassle of calling the police and simply exchange information. Unfortunately, this seemingly innocent choice can have dire ramifications in court.
When officers respond to an accident, one of their primary responsibilities is filling out a police report. These reports are vital in court, documenting key details such as:
- Scene Conditions: In addition to recording the location of the accident and the time of day, officers will also document the scene conditions. For example, if it was snowing or raining when the accident occurred, it could have a bearing on visibility, which could impact your case.
- Extent of Property Damage: Police officers will also thoroughly assess any property damage that has occurred because of the accident, including damage to vehicles, property, or the roadway. This information can be used to calculate repairs and damages later.
- Narrative: After the scene has been evaluated, police officers will talk with all involved parties to see what happened. This information can be used to develop a preliminary admission of fault, which can help a lot in court.
If you are involved in a car accident, do the smart thing and contact police immediately. In addition to acting as an objective third party and documenting conditions, police officers can also block off traffic and request medical care—so that you can get the help you need.
2: Talking To The Wrong People
Sometimes, people try to make things better by explaining their side of the story—especially if the other party seems nice and understanding. Unfortunately, getting chatty with other people after an accident can complicate your case. Here are a few people you should avoid altogether, or ask your lawyer to contact:
- Involved Parties: Instead of jogging over to that other driver and apologizing about the accident, check to see if they are hurt and then stay silent. Focus on contacting the police and taking pictures of the accident. If you unintentionally admit fault, the other driver could relay that information to police and it could end up in the report.
- Insurance Adjusters: That insurance adjuster might seem kind, but they might be more concerned about limiting expenses than paying your medical bills. For example, an insurance agent might ask how you are feeling immediately following the accident. Although you might be tempted to report that you are doing "fine," that information could be used to show that you aren't as badly injured as you are.
In addition to streamlining your personal injury lawsuit, letting your lawyer communicate with other parties might give them a chance to collect valuable information. For example, if your lawyer has a chance to talk with the attorney representing the other party, he or she might be able to determine what evidence will be used against you in court.
If you have questions about what to say or do following an accident, don't hesitate to call your attorney. By making the right moves following your accident, you might be able to streamline your case—so that you can focus on your recovery. Go to sites like http://www.attorneyinjury.com/ for additional information.