Have you or someone you love recently been involved in an automobile accident in the Las Vegas, Nevada area? Car accidents are so common that almost every American is involved in at least one during their lifetime.
What’s also common are the mistakes people make in the aftermath of an automobile accident, when they are often overwhelmed, panicked and in pain from injuries sustained during the accident, and aren’t thinking clearly.
I am writing this article to help you avoid making the same mistakes, which can be very costly. As an automobile accident attorney, I can tell you exactly what NOT to do after an accident, if you ever hope to see a dime in compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses and the cost of repairing or replacing your automobile.
- Don't call your insurance company right away.
Don’t do this. Immediately after an accident you are going to be scared, emotional and even angry. You might have injuries.
Talking to an insurance adjuster when in this heightened emotional state is extremely unwise: every detail you provide will be scrutinized by the adjuster and his/her superiors in order to minimize the amount of compensation you are awarded. This is the adjuster’s job. They are not your “friend” and they are not on your side, even though they may seem kind or caring. If you innocently say the wrong thing, you can be assured it will be used against you and will hurt your claim.
- Don’t forget to file a police report.
Big mistake. The police report will be used by the insurance company to help determine negligence (which party in the accident is at fault). If the other driver is at fault, you want the insurance company to process your claim as quickly as possible, so that you receive compensation for your automobile repairs, medical bills and any other expenses sooner rather than later.
You don’t want to delay the process and have the situation end up in a “he said/she said” impasse, which is much more likely if the insurance companies involved are processing your claim without the aid of a police report.
- Don't assume that the other driver is being truthful with you and will cooperate.
After automobile accidents, drivers may decide to simply exchange insurance information and not bother calling the police. The other driver may write down on a piece of paper their phone number, name and email address, and give it to you, before driving away. Unfortunately, people are not always truthful in these situations.
Ask to see the person’s insurance information and write it down yourself or take a photo of it with your phone. Also take a photo of or write down the other driver’s car license number. Ask if you can write down their driver’s license number. Don’t let them tell you this information from memory or write it down for you: ask to see their license so you can copy the driver’s license number yourself, and their full name, or take a photo of it.
If the other driver is clearly at fault in the accident and you let them drive away without giving you the proper contact information, you may never hear from them again. This happens all the time.
- Don't allow witnesses to leave without recording their contact information.
In the confusion and chaotic aftermath of an automobile accident, it can be easy to forget to ask witnesses to write down for you their contact information. Don’t forget. They can be extremely valuable to you later on, when the insurance companies are involved and are determining negligence and compensation amounts.
If possible, ask the witnesses for their business cards – you won’t have to worry about deciphering illegible handwriting later.
- Don't rely only on police photos of the accident scene.
Take your own photos. Do this before you have any repair work done on your car. Revisit the scene of the accident if you have to, but if you have the presence of mind in the immediate aftermath of the accident, before the police and any tow trucks have cleared the scene, take your own photos, preferably recording the scene from different angles.
These will be extremely helpful if your case ends up involving an automobile accident lawyer, or if the insurance company drags their feet on your claim. The more proof and details you present with your claim, the more likely it will be taken seriously by the insurance companies.
- “I’m fine! I don’t need to see a doctor!”
Do not let stubborn pride and a fear of appearing “weak” prevent you from going to the doctor. You may not have immediate symptoms, but this does not mean you are not injured: once the adrenaline of the accident wears off, injuries may begin to show themselves. It can take a few days for some types of injuries to show symptoms. You may also be bleeding or injured internally.
If you are hoping to get compensation from the insurance company, trust me, you are going to want to have medical records and doctor’s notes to present to them. They will take your claim a lot more seriously this way. Go to the doctor immediately after the accident, even if you don’t think you need to.
You don’t want to give the other party, and their lawyer or insurance company, an opportunity to say that you must not really be injured or negatively impacted by the accident if you’re not seeing a doctor, thus are not deserving of compensation.
- Don't sign any paperwork presented to you by the insurance companies.
Do not sign anything, from anyone, until you have consulted with a Las Vegas automobile accident lawyer. If you were injured in an automobile accident and need medical attention, if your car needs costly repairs or you have to buy an entirely new automobile, you need a lawyer.
These types of claims may involve sizable compensation to the injured party (you). Because of this, the insurance company will try to pin any fault to you that they can in order to minimize your compensation amount. An automobile accident lawyer’s job is to make sure they pay you the maximum compensation possible, and do not take advantage of you.
Most law firms, including mine, Day & Nance, offer free consultations and do not receive any fee for their services unless your claim is successful. You do not have to pay a dime for legal advice up front. If you elect me to represent you, I will want to handle all interactions with the insurance company. Your job is to heal from your injuries and take it easy after your accident.
- Don't jump at the first offer made by the insurance company.
Again, the job of an insurance adjuster is not to make you happy, but to please their superiors. The more money that adjusters pays out in claims such as yours, the more they will be frowned on by those above them. An adjuster does their job well when they pay out less money, not more.
They are experts in interrogating you, from multiple angles, to find any tiny detail they can use against you to minimize your compensation amount.
What’s the number one way you can protect yourself from being taken advantage of by an insurance company after an automobile accident? Call for a free consultation with an automobile accident lawyer.
Why? Because automobile accident lawyers are extremely skilled at handling insurance adjusters and knowing how to force them to pay you the maximum amount of compensation. That is the lawyer’s job, and they are pros. My firm, Day & Nance, has been battling insurance companies on behalf of people just like you in the Las Vegas area, for 25 years now.
If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident in Las Vegas, contact us right away. We’ll put our resources and knowledge to work for you in ensuring you receive the maximum compensation allowed by law.