Don't Do These Seven Things after a Car Crash
1. Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The other driver’s insurance company does not care about you. When they call you, they have two goals: 1) Assess the extent of their liability. 2) Minimize their damages. Number one is straightforward. Insurance companies want to manage their risk and know how much money to set aside for each claim. Number two is less obvious. Insurance companies record all of their calls. Their second goal is to get the injured person to minimize their damages on the phone. Then, when it is time to settle the claim, they can use the recorded original statement against the injured person. For example, people regularly say, “it’s not that bad” or “I’m sure I’ll be okay in a few days.” If you are more seriously injured and require physical therapy or other future treatment, statements like these will make it harder to recover for your future medical expenses. Instead, politely tell the insurance company that you would prefer to communicate with them in writing only and that you are going to hire a car accident attorney.
2. Act Tough When You are Really Hurt
If you try to act tough after getting into a car crash, you may not be able to fully recover from your injuries. For example, if you are seriously hurt, but you declined necessary medical treatment, then it may be difficult to recover for that necessary medical treatment at a later point. The insurance company will argue that there was some other intervening event that must have caused the injury. As the injured person, you ultimately have the burden of proof for all of your claims. Doctor’s notes and records (close in time to the injury) are the best evidence to prove your injury claims. If you’re not seriously hurt, don’t go the emergency room. That is wasteful and can be considered insurance fraud. But if you are seriously hurt, seek out professional medical attention as soon as you can.
3. Take Some Blame
If you voluntarily take some fault for the car crash, you will not be able to recover 100% of your damages. People hate conflict. In a contested liability case, it is easy to attempt to compromise with the other driver and tell the police officer or insurance company that maybe this was just “both of our faults.” Even if it isn’t true. These kinds of niceties will hurt your case. The police officer will document that you admitted fault for the crash. The other driver will stick to his or her story and you will damage your case. Don’t be rude or start a fight. Just calmly explain your side of the story to the police officer. Resist the natural human urge to take some fault for the crash, just because you feel bad or to avoid conflict. Caveat, don’t lie or make up facts. If the crash is your fault, then tell the truth and take responsibility for the crash. It’s the right thing to do.
4. Ignore Your Doctor’s Advice
If you ignore the doctor’s advice, the insurance company will argue that you are partially responsible for your own injuries. In Wisconsin, injured people have a legal duty to mitigate (or minimize) their damages. That duty includes following the doctor’s orders. So if the doctor says that you should be non-weight bearing for 48 hours, then you should be non-weight bearing for 48 hours. Your most important job is to get better as fast as possible. Read all of the hospital’s exit paperwork and carefully follow the doctor’s instructions.
5. Leave your Car in the Tow Yard
Tow yards will charge you every day that your car remains unclaimed. If your car is unmovable, you do not have to allow the tow truck to take your car to their own storage yard of choice. Insist that they tow the car to your local body shop or dealership. If you don’t have a trusted body shop, then ask them to tow the car to your house. If you leave your car in the tow yard for weeks or months, the daily storage fees could eventually exceed the value of the car. The tow company may try to have your car deemed abandoned and then sell your car at auction to satisfy the fees. Don’t let this happen. Take charge of where your car gets towed while you are still at the scene of the crash.
6. Forget about your Co-Pays
Even though you were in a car crash, you are still responsible for your co-pays and deductibles. Even though there may eventually be an auto insurance settlement that pays for some of the medical bills, you still must stay current on your patient financial responsibilities until the case settles. The hospital will not wait for the auto insurance money and may refer your account to collections. Your attorney doesn’t have the ability to pay these bills for you. Keep your credit in good condition and set up a payment plan with the hospital right away.
7. Wait to Call an Injury Lawyer
If you wait to call an injury lawyer until after you’ve already taken a settlement from the insurance company, then it is probably too late for the Paul Benson Law Firm to help you. If you call the Paul Benson Law Firm at the beginning of your case, he can help guide you through every step in your case and maximize the value of your case.