This guest post is from Joshua Rodriguez, an avid personal finance and legal journalist. Some of the information in this article was provided by attorney Abraham Saad of the Saad Law Office in Huntington, West Virginia.
Did you know that on any given day in the United States over 14,000 car accidents happen? When we think about this, that’s really an astonishing number! That being said, a high percentage of consumers that live in the United States will at some point or another find themselves in the midst of a car accident. After the accidents, consumers are justifiably shaken up. Being shaken up, quite a few people forget even the basics of handling a car accident situation. With that said, here are the three most common legal mistakes consumers make after an accident. Make sure that you are not one who makes these mistakes if you find yourself looking at the aftermath of a wreck!
#1 Most Common Mistake – Not Calling The Police
After a car accident, it is natural for us to want to assess the damage caused so, we will generally walk around the car and check it out. In many cases, when damage doesn’t seem to be severe and the cars are still drivable, the parties involved in the accident make the decision to handle any minor damages on their own and leave without contacting the police.
The first problem with doing something like this is that in many states, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without reporting it. Getting caught doing something like this could leave you paying a hefty fine as well as possible time in jail!
Another reason that you want to call the police is so that there is a trusted document of what happened. Even in states where it is OK to leave the scene without calling the police, you will find dangers in actually doing it. For instance, if the fault was on the other party in the accident and they find that they are injured from the accident. They may contact an attorney and come after you or your insurance company. If there is no legal document such as a police report documenting that you were not at fault, you may find yourself liable for damages. This is just one of the plethora of reasons you should call the police after an accident even in states where the action is not required by law!
#2 Most Common Mistake – Taking Unnecessary Blame
All too often, after a car accident, consumers will get out of their car, go to the other car and say, “I’m so sorry, that was all my fault.” When the police arrive at the scene, they will ask what happened. These same consumers will generally tell the police that the accident was their fault. However, even if you think you were at fault for an accident, other outside evidence you did not consider may be taken into account and show that’s not the case. For instance, you shouldn’t have made that turn, but the other car was excessively speeding. Because they were speeding, chances are the fault is not yours!
The biggest danger associated with this is that when you take the blame for a car accident before the evidence is taken into account, you are automatically at fault in the eyes of the police. Therefore, they may not do enough digging to find the other evidence that may prove the exact opposite. When this happens, you may be liable for damages that you shouldn’t be!
#3 Most Common Mistake – Not Contacting A Personal Injury Attorney
Often times, after an accident, consumers agree not to call their insurance companies or attorneys and decide to handle the matter on their own. However, after making this agreement, many people will still go home and contact an attorney to come after the others who may or may not be liable. If this happens in your case, you may need to hire an attorney eventually. However, because the other party contacted their attorney first, their attorney has a leg up because they have more time to collect important information needed for the case. The only way to give yourself the best chances in a court room after a car accident is to make sure that you have an attorney on your side. The only way to do that is to call one!