Top Ten North Carolina Auto Accident Mistakes
It is all too easy to make a mistake after a North Carolina auto accident. You’ve just been though something shocking and possibly quite traumatic. You may not be thinking clearly, and you may be distracted by the pain of your injuries or the gratitude of surviving. You may be overwhelmed by the stress of other’s injuries, of your vehicle damage, and of all of the commotion that tends to come along with the aftermath of an auto accident. At Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC, we understand how confusing and chaotic an auto accident can be, and we know how easy it is to make mistakes. That’s why we’re going to discuss the top ten mistakes made by people who have just experienced a North Carolina auto accident, so hopefully, you can avoid them.
1) Declining Emergency Medical Care
If you are offered an ambulance ride to the nearest emergency room, you should accept it. If you do not go to the hospital on an ambulance, you should seek treatment at the emergency room or with your primary care physician within 24 hours of the accident.
This is important because waiting any longer than necessary to seek treatment for your injuries can allow for the person or insurance company who is responsible for paying for your damages the opportunity to say that you were not really injured, that your injuries were not severe, or that your injuries were not caused by the auto accident. Yet, it is a very common mistake for people to neglect to seek prompt medical treatment, especially if the injured person doesn’t realize the extent of his or her injuries. Sometimes, injuries are not obvious right away, but they grow worse without treatment and become harder to prove as time passes.
2) Accepting a Visit from the Insurance Company of the At Fault Driver
It is very likely that a representative of the at fault driver’s insurance company – or a claims adjuster – will contact you shortly after the accident. They may want to see you in person. To allow this is to allow them an opportunity to make subjective claims about your health and wellbeing. They can then use this against you, later.
3) Accepting a Settlement Too Early
It is also common for the insurance company of the at fault driver to offer you a settlement right away. You may even think that it’s a lot of money, and you may be tempted to accept that settlement and sign a release. However, once you do this, you can’t go back. More often than not, you’ll discover too late that the settlement is not nearly enough to cover your damages.
4) Providing a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company of the At Fault Driver
As mentioned above, you will likely be contacted by the insurance company of the at fault driver. You may be asked to give a recorded statement. This is always a bad idea. It is best to avoid talking to the insurance company at all without first talking to a lawyer. It is especially unwise to provide a recorded statement. This gives them room to use your words against you.
5) Refusing to Bill Your Own Health Care Insurance
Many victims of auto accidents refuse to bill their own health care insurance because they know that the insurance company of the at fault driver is responsible for their medical expenses. While this is true, you should not expect to receive this compensation for some time. In the meantime, you will need your healthcare insurance to offset your costs.
6) Failing to Get Your Medical Expenses Fully Compensated
Those who do not bill their own medical insurance miss out on coverage for medical expenses. Those who accept early settlements may miss out on getting their expenses fully compensated. It is important to keep in mind that you may have future medical expenses to address as well.
7) Discontinuing Medical Treatment Too Soon
There are many reasons why you might discontinue your medical treatment. You might not have a ride to appointments. You might think that you’re well enough to end treatment. You might find it difficult to work your appointments into a busy schedule. You may simply struggle with the expense before you are able to receive the much needed compensation. This is especially common in situations where physical therapy is called for to reach maximum medical improvement. This mistake can cost you in terms of your health and your compensation.
8) Failing to Seek Punitive Damages Where Warranted
Punitive damages are not often awarded, because they are only warranted in situations where there has been gross misconduct or malicious intent, where punishment for the defendant is appropriate. However, there are still many circumstances where road rage, multiple DUIs, or extremely reckless driving may mean that you are entitled to punitive damages as well. Yet, many people don’t even realize that this is an option.
9) Not Having Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Another common problem that we see in North Carolina auto accident claims is that many drivers carry the bare minimum of coverage, or worse, no coverage at all. While all drivers are legally required to carry auto insurance, not everyone follows the law. Some can’t afford to, and others simply fail to update their policies when necessary.
Those who do hold the legally required amount of coverage may not have enough coverage to compensate all of your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. This is where it is important to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, to cover any expenses that the insurance of the at fault driver does not cover. Failing to maintain such coverage can cost you.
10) Failing to Seek Professional Legal Guidance and Representation
Nearly all of the mistakes on this list can be avoided by consulting with a determined North Carolina auto accident attorney before making any decisions or speaking with any insurance claims adjusters. In fact, even if you are struggling to continue with your necessary medical care, an attorney can often help you to find solutions to avoid discontinuing care. The initial consultation with an attorney from Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC is free, so you can’t go wrong by seeking the advice and guidance of a professional auto accident lawyer.