4 Things You Should Never Do After An Auto Accident
You might have a good idea of what you should do after an auto accident happens, such as checking yourself and others for injuries, calling the police, and exchanging contact and insurance information. What you might not know is that there are a few things that you should always avoid doing to ensure that you don’t make certain common mistakes that might come back to haunt you later. Following are the four most important things that you should never do after an auto accident.
1) Never provide a statement to another insurance company without consulting an attorney.
If you’ve been in an auto accident in North Carolina, you will likely be contacted soon after by your own auto insurance company and by the other driver’s insurance provider. Ultimately, you will be obligated to cooperate with your insurance and provide a statement. However, if the driver who hit you is uninsured, or if you are a victim of a hit-and-run driver, you should definitely consult with an attorney prior to giving a statement to your insurance company. This is because any claim for compensation will most likely ultimately be paid out by your insurance company under your Uninsured Motorist coverage. In these proceedings, your own insurance company will often take an adversarial position as it seeks to limit its payout to you.
While you will eventually need to provide your own insurance company with a statement, you are not required to provide a statement to the other driver’s insurance company, and you would be wise to avoid doing so. This is a common mistake that people make after an accident, often with the mistaken belief that they are either required to provide a statement or that doing so will help the process move along more quickly. In reality, the insurance claims adjuster of the other driver is looking for anything that they can use to put blame on you, even if the accident was not your fault. This is because North Carolina is a contributory negligence state which doesn’t allow for any recovery if you are partially responsible for your injuries. It is easy to accidentally say the wrong thing, to have your words twisted, or to leave something out. The best thing that you can do in this situation is to respectfully decline to give a statement without first speaking to an attorney. An attorney can best advise you whether to even give a statement to the insurance company, and if so, in what manner the statement should be given.
2) Never Leave the Scene Before Police Arrive.
Far too many people make the mistake of trusting the at fault driver to provide honest information. They will exchange contact and insurance information after the accident and leave the scene. Then, they’ll find that the number is no good, the insurance has been cancelled, or that the at fault driver is denying fault. Without a police report to back up your claim, it can be very difficult to prove anything about the accident, including the identity of the other driver.
3) Never Refuse to Bill Your Health Insurance for Medical Treatment.
When you are receiving medical care after an auto accident that was not your fault, you may wish to avoid providing your health insurance information because the other driver should be responsible for your medical bills. Although the other driver’s insurance may wind up paying for your medical expenses, your own insurance will need to be used until that has been decided and compensation has been awarded. If you don’t provide your own health insurance information, then the account may go into collections, and you may be faced with significant medical debt.
4) Never Sign a Scheduled Release After an Auto Accident.
Soon after an auto accident, you are likely to be offered a scheduled release that includes a minimal settlement amount and the promise of coverage for medical expenses that are “necessary and reasonable.” This is always a bad idea for the victim of auto accident injuries because you don’t yet know how expensive or lengthy your medical treatment and follow up care will be. It will also be challenging to come to an agreement with the insurance company about whether certain procedures and expenses are “necessary and reasonable.” Yet, if you sign the release, there is little opportunity for going back, and you cannot seek further compensation for your damages. You could be forfeiting your right to seek compensation for your lost wages, pain and suffering, and any medical expenses that the insurance company does not support.
If you take care to avoid these four common mistakes of auto accident injury victims, and contact an experienced North Carolina auto accident attorney like Brown, Moore, and Associates, you will put yourself in the best position to receive the compensation you deserve.