Auto accidents are scary. An absent-minded commute to work can quickly and unexpectedly become a disaster you remember for the rest of your life. Staying vigilant and obeying the traffic laws can save you years of medical bills and legal trouble. That said, an auto accident is not always your fault. A lot of the time, a distracted driver in another vehicle can cause you a lot of misfortune. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what you should do in the event of an accident. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid:
Don’t Admit Guilt
It may be difficult to remember, but admitting guilt at the site of an accident can leave you vulnerable to legal ramifications down the road. Even if you feel you were 100% responsible for the accident, you may not be aware of all the circumstances that led to it. Fault can be shared in a significant amount of auto accidents.
It works like this: an Ohio court analyzes the accident based on several sources. Then, they will assign comparative negligence to each party. Comparative negligence is a legal term that refers to the guilty or “at fault” party. The critical thing to remember is that comparative negligence is often shared between the two parties based on percentages that the court comes up with. So the party with the highest percentage of comparative negligence is the most at fault and therefore the other party may still be entitled to recovery.
The amount of recovery issued to that party can be reduced by your level of negligence. So if the court finds that you are 100% at fault for the accident, you will be responsible for 100% of the recovery paid to the victim. If the court finds you 75% responsible, however, your fees will be reduced. That is why it’s important never to admit guilt at the scene. A jury may take you at your word instead of listening to the evidence.
Don’t Forget To Gather Evidence At The Scene (If Possible)
If you are seriously injured in a car accident, this mistake is obviously out of your control. But if you are only mildly injured or only your car sustained damage, collect as much evidence as possible.
Take pictures of the damage to your car, your injuries, the positions of both vehicles, the surrounding road signs, any visible skid marks, the weather conditions on the road, the names and contact info of any witnesses, and of course, the insurance information of the other party in the accident. All of these types of evidence can help prove your case and/or disprove the claims of the responsible party. The police reports and your medical records will also be beneficial. Collect and keep as much data as you are able. Too much evidence is always better than not enough.
Don’t Skip The Medical Exam
There are several reasons why you may not feel injured immediately following an accident, even though you are. First is the adrenaline that will no doubt be coursing through your veins. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone that allows your body to ignore injuries for a limited time during instances of extreme stress. The adrenaline may make you believe you are completely uninjured and therefore do not require medical attention. Even if you do feel injured, you may feel the need to downplay the severity of the situation because of social cues or a feeling of guilt. Many people refuse to seek medical attention after an accident. This is always a mistake.
When the adrenaline wears off, the pain sets in. Soft tissue damage is one of the most common injuries in car accidents, and it can often take three to five days to become apparent. This means undiagnosed back and neck injuries can be left out of the settlement entirely if an initial medical examination is refused. The neck and back often sustain injuries that require prolonged physical therapy to treat. If evidence of these issues is left out of your auto accident claim, you could end up paying for them yourself for years. What’s more, undiagnosed brain injuries or organ damage can also lay dormant for days only to then cause severe impairment or even death. Never skip the check-up after an accident.
Don’t Wait To Talk To A Lawyer
An auto accident claim can be complicated to manage alone. It is essential to have an expert that knows the ins and outs of evidence and paperwork. The guilty party’s insurance company will attempt to disprove or diminish your claim at every opportunity. It is important to have a lawyer on your side to help you fight back.
If you have been in an auto accident, don’t wait. Call Garretson & Holcomb, LLC at (513) 863-6600 today.