rainytrafficWe’ve all been there – driving along to work, the grocery store, or taking the kids to a function when out of nowhere another car slams  into the back, corner, or side of your car.  If you’re like every other victim of a car wreck, your heart will probably be racing, blood pressure rising, and temper flaring over the carelessness of another driver.  You may even be thinking of the hassle and expense that the accident will cause.  Before the stress starts sinking in, check out our tips on avoiding the top mistakes that victims of car accidents make…all of which may very well affect how the insurance company handles your claim and cost you real dollars and cents at the end of the day.

#1 – You Feel the Adrenaline Pumping and You Decide to Get Out of the Car, Walking Around, Waving Your Arms, and Yelling at the Other Driver.

Moments after the impact, victims of car accidents often feel wronged, upset, and as though another driver’s carelessness has caused an unnecessary headache and a variety of unaffordable expenses. But as much as you would like nothing more than to get out of the car and wring the neck of the at-fault driver, shake them, and yell, “What’s wrong with you?!?!,” you must restrain yourself. As soon as you make your claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, the insurance company is going to interview their driver and ask them what you did and said at the scene immediately after the accident, to determine how bad the accident was.  The other driver may even be filming/recording you on their phone or video. The problem is that a number of injuries caused by car accidents manifest over a period of several days to several weeks (and in some cases, several months). Getting too worked up at the scene of the accident could come back later to haunt you.  Don’t give the insurance company a reason downplay the accident and how it has affected you.  Just stay calm, cool, don’t raise your voice, and don’t lose your temper, no matter how upset you may be.

#2 – Your Cell Phone Photos of the Accident Are Blurry, Unreadable, or Unhelpful.

When accidents occur, most victims find themselves in a place where they are shaken and their thoughts are racing. If you’ve been involved in a car accident , you must remember to be calm enough to handle documenting the scene of the scene accurately. The problem is that most people hurry through it, and end up with photos and/or video that are blurry, too far, too close-up, and do not do a great job in documenting  what the scene of the accident looked like. If you are involved in a car wreck, don’t forget to take photos and video of the following items, which you may not necessarily always remember about in the heat of the moment:

  • Distance of the cars from the curb (how far out from the curb did each car end up?)
  • Distance of the cars from each other (how far did the cars end up, bumper to bumper?)
  • Position of the cars in relation to the street lane dividers/markers (how far out of the lane did the accident push your car?)
  • Height difference in cars at bumper level (how much higher or lower is the other car’s bumper at the place of impact than your car’s bumper? This can help document body damage to your car.)
  • 360-view of the scene around where the accident occurred (did it occur near intersections, traffic lights, gas stations that might have been recording video footage?)

Don’t forget that when taking photos, make sure you focus your cell phone on the subject before snapping the picture, and when taking video, go slow and steady.

#3  – After the Accident, You Go Back to What You Were Doing and Where You Were Headed.

Perhaps the biggest mistake that car accident victims make is not taking the accident seriously enough. Most victims of car accidents find the event disruptive and jarring, and simply want to get back to their tasks and lives as soon as possible – meaning that once the police officer has come to take a report or once information is exchanged with the other driver, they will simply drive off and get back on the road headed to the destination they were traveling to prior to the accident. This is probably the biggest mistake that could be made.  One of the top reason that insurance companies deny claims is by taking the position that the victim did not need (or get) medical treatment immediately after the accident occurred. As much of a hassle as it may be, and as many things you may have on your task list, it is extremely important to get checked after an accident to make sure your body has not suffered a hairline fracture or other injury that would not immediately make itself apparent.  Most victims, however, think that going to get checked out is unnecessary because there was no blood or broken bones – but it is not always that simple. If any of the following happened in the accident, you should absolutely get to an urgent care center or hospital and have, at a minimum, x-rays and CT scans taken:

  • Any accident causing whiplash (like a rear-ender)
  • Accidents involving shattered glass (like t-bone accidents / left turn lane accidents)
  • Accidents resulting in airbags going off in any car involved in the accident
  • If you were a pedestrian or bicyclist involved in an accident with a car
  • Any accident involving children under the age of 16
  • Any accident in which you hit your head
  • Accidents involving multiple cars (causing a chain-reaction)

#4 – You Skipped Getting Medical Care Because No Health Insurance or Because It’s Too Expensive.

Following up to Tip #3 above, a number of accident victims skip getting medical treatment for whiplash, back/neck pain, or other common injuries because they either do not have health insurance or think that it will be too unaffordable to get the treatment they need. This is a common misconception. Depending on the nature of the accident and its severity, there are a number of medical providers out there that will provide you with medical treatment on a “lien” basis – this means that if you get an attorney to represent you bring a claim against the at-fault driver, the medical treatment providers will often work with your legal team to get you the treatment you need without billing you directly for it. This is a great way to get the treatment you need without having to pay out-of-pocket to take care of circumstances caused by someone else’s negligence.

#5 – Post-Accident, You Don’t Take A Second Look at Your Insurance Policy.

Being involved in an accident is a reminder to make sure that your insurance policy has enough limits and coverages to protect you in the event you are involved with an uninsured or uninderinsured driver. Let’s be honest – drivers on the road today can be distracted, texting, affected by the lingering effects of medical marijuana, or simply not paying attention. If you are involved in a serious auto accident and the other driver is not insured or has the bare minimum in insurance coverage, then there is a chance that you will not get the treatment you need or repairs or replacement to your vehicle. The best way to protect against this is to have sufficient UM (uninsured) and UIM (underinsured) coverage for your insurance policy. It does not add a lot to your semi-yearly premium payments, but can make all the difference if you are involved in a bad wreck.

AXIS Legal Counsel represents victims of numerous types of personal injury accidents and injuries, including car accidents, auto/vehicle accidents, bicycle accidentsbus accidents, motorcycle accidentstrucks accidents, boating accidents, brain injuries, head injuries,  burn injuries, school bus accidents,  dog bite injuries, parasailing accidents, premises liability, slip-and-falls, products liability, trip and fall injuries, catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, gym/exercise accidents, and other personal injury accidents.  AXIS handles personal injury accidents that have resulted in head injuries, traumatic concussions, fractures, facial fractures, facial trauma, and traumatic brain injuries.  A

For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent you or a loved one with any accident or injury, contact info@axislegalca.com or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation, or visit our Accidents and Injuries Practice or Individual Rights portal. AXIS is a Los Angeles, California personal injury law firm that provides victims of accidents and injuries with aggressive representation to pursue the maximum extent of their rights.

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