In a congested city such as San Diego, California, car accidents happen frequently. Some of the most common car accidents in this area include rear-end collisions, sideswiping crashes, and drunk driving incidents.
If you’re ever involved in one of these accidents, there are costly mistakes that may only make the situation worse. After all, it’s easy to make a poor decision in the heat of the moment and as events are unfolding so quickly.
Nevertheless, a short lapse in judgment could prove to be costly. Here are 10 mistakes to avoid after getting in a San Diego car accident.
1. Fleeing the scene of an accident
Regardless of the circumstances, leaving the scene of an accident is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Whether or not you’re the party at fault, it’s important that you stay put and see the process through.
In the state of California, fleeing the scene of an accident—also known as a hit-and-run incident—is classified as a misdemeanor and may result in heavy fines, license suspension, probation, and even prison time.
If another party sustained severe injuries or was killed in the event, the incident may even be charged as a felony.
2. Not gathering relevant information
While you may be shaken up in the moments immediately after a collision, remember that this is likely your only opportunity to gather all of the pertinent details regarding the incident.
Be sure to talk with the other parties who were involved in the accident, get their contact information, and exchange insurance details. These components are going to be vital during the claims process.
3. Not taking pictures and videos
After an accident, make sure you take plenty of pictures before leaving the scene. At a minimum, you should document the condition of both vehicles, the scene of the crash, and any injuries you may have sustained.
This evidence will go a long way towards determining fault and helping you earn the compensation you deserve.
It’s also wise to document various milestones during the recovery process. This will indicate to the court that you have put your best foot forward in treating any injuries.
4. Failing to contact the police
While taking photos and exchanging insurance information are important steps to take after a car accident, don’t forget to also contact the police. An officer will personally visit the scene, talk to both parties and any witnesses, and file an official report.
Especially if you’ve sustained injuries, a police report is an important document to have available, as it serves as a legal account of the incident—one that will hold up in court.
5. Admitting that you’re the one at fault
If you believe you’re the party at fault or if another party was injured during an incident, naturally, you may want to assume some level of responsibility or apologize to someone who has been hurt.
However, keep in mind that any admission of fault can negatively affect your case and impact your ability to get fair compensation.
Whether you’re speaking with a third party, a police officer, or an insurance company, the subject of fault should be avoided. Rather, this information should be kept private between you and your lawyer.
6. Neglecting medical help
In 2019 alone, there were approximately 4.5 million medically consulted injuries that were related to motor vehicle accidents.
Unless you have been involved in a very minor incident, it’s almost always a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional—particularly as a rush of adrenaline from the crash can hide symptoms temporarily.
It’s also worth noting that certain injuries and conditions—such as head trauma and psychological disorders—may also develop further over time. If you need to recover medical costs, seeking medical help and documenting your recovery is critical to receiving compensation for these injuries.
7. Sharing information via social media
In the age of social media, seemingly everything can be shared online. There are very few experiences that people consider to be off-limits. Even the details surrounding car accidents are posted and discussed.
While it may be tempting to share details about your recent experience or recovery process on social media—even if it’s only to let friends and family know that you’re safe and well—doing so potentially arms insurance companies and lawyers with information that can be used against you.
Think twice before sharing your story on social media; and if possible, avoid discussing the incident and its aftermath entirely.
8. Not hiring legal help
If you’re looking to recover lost wages, medical costs, and other types of compensation after a car accident, hiring an attorney from a reputable law firm can make the process significantly easier.
Not only do attorneys bring expertise that can strengthen your case and expedite a result but they also allow you to focus on recovery by handling much of the legwork and communications on your behalf.
9. Being inconsistent with your story
If you hope to receive full compensation for any damage, medical expenses, lost wages, or injuries sustained after a car accident, it’s important that you tell the entire truth from the very start.
Rather than fabricating certain details of the case or exaggerating the truth in any way, maintain consistency throughout the entire process. Inconsistencies will only open you up to greater scrutiny from the opposition and weaken your case.
10. Accepting a low settlement offer
If you weren’t the party at fault in a car accident, it’s only a matter of time before the at-fault party’s insurance company contacts you to discuss a settlement.
Most of the time, the insurance company’s first offer will be for a low amount—far less than what you’re actually entitled to receive—in hope that you will jump at the first opportunity for compensation.
However, it’s important that you exhibit patience and take some time to think the offer through before making a rash decision. Consult your attorney to determine whether the settlement is fair or whether you should hold out for a better offer that is likely to come down the road.