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Common Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
Everyone makes mistakes. With more than 17,000 people injured last year in Kansas car accidents and more than 45,000 in Missouri, there were certainly mistakes made. Unfortunately, some of those mistakes affected the value of those victims’ personal injury claims.
At Grover Law Firm, LLC, reliable personal injury attorneys help clients avoid making mistakes from the beginning. However, if the mistakes have already been made, the firm will work to correct what it can to help clients get the compensation they deserve. The firm serves clients in Overland Park and throughout Kansas and Missouri, including Olathe, Shawnee, Kansas City, Liberty, and Independence.
The potential for mistakes is infinite, but here are the common mistakes to avoid after a car accident if you want to avoid compromising your personal injury claim.
Failing to Seek Medical Attention Right Away
Even if you do not think you are injured or are not sure you are, it is a mistake to not seek medical help right away. Do it for your health because your ability to recover from your injuries begins with an examination and diagnosis. Moreover, if someone else’s negligence caused the crash, you will need a medical diagnosis that links the injury to that event if you want to pursue a personal injury claim. If you wait too long the negligent driver’s insurance company will allege you were not injured or your injuries were too insignificant to seek emergency care. Or they may assert that you injured yourself after the accident, not during it.
Not Dialing 911 at the Scene
Law enforcement serves multiple purposes at the scene of an accident. For one, they secure the scene, not only for safety but also to preserve evidence. That evidence could be crucial to your claim. Moreover, Kansas and Missouri laws require that crashes be reported to law enforcement when they cause injury, death, or property damage. Law enforcement is then required to complete a crash report which will be instrumental to your injury claim.
What not to do after an accident is admit any guilt to anyone. (Unless it is your personal injury lawyer in which case, your admission is subject to attorney-client privilege.) You have a duty to report facts but no duty to admit that you caused or contributed to cause the accident. Along the same lines, do not apologize to the at-fault driver because an apology is virtually the same as an admission of guilt. Guilt can be interpreted as fault, and comparative negligence plays a major role in personal injury claims.
Kansas follows a modified comparative negligence rule. If you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you cannot pursue a personal injury claim. Missouri follows a pure comparative negligence rule, so technically, you can pursue a personal injury claim even if you were 99% at fault, but it would not be worth the effort. In either state, the amount of compensation you receive is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
Not Gathering Evidence at the Scene
Unless your injuries prohibit you from doing so, it is a mistake to not gather evidence at the scene of the crash. Such evidence includes: getting the names and contact information of any people who witnessed the event and taking photos of the roadway and debris, the cars involved, and even the light and weather conditions. There is always an incentive to get things cleared up so traffic can return to normal. Once that occurs, evidence is lost. Get out your mobile phone and start snapping photos, taking notes, and recording comments. It may all pay off down the road.
Taking Too Much Time Before Filing a Claim or Lawsuit
Time is of the essence in any personal injury claim. Getting immediate medical attention, calling law enforcement, and filing a bodily injury claim should be done right away. Down the road, you can’t wait too long to file a civil suit in court. If you fail to settle a claim or file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the crash in Kansas or five years in Missouri, you forfeit your right to pursue compensation for your damages.
The smart move is to put the insurance company of the at-fault driver on notice as soon as possible of your intent to file a claim. A claim will be opened, and the process of pursuing compensation can begin. There’s no reason to wait, so don’t.
Giving a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Adjuster
You may not be home from the emergency room before the negligent driver’s insurance adjuster is calling you. The adjuster will want to ask you a series of questions about the accident and your injuries and record the exchange. That would be a mistake without having your car accident attorney present. Why? Because the adjuster will question you in such a way as to get you to admit guilt, reduce the severity of your reported injuries and associated pain, and contradict yourself on the record. Your attorney can prepare you for the adjuster’s questions, including helping you avoid volunteering information not requested. Moreover, your attorney will be on the record advising the adjuster the interview is not to be recorded.
Accepting the First Offer from the Insurance Company
Without going into great detail, we can tell you that the first offer from the insurance company will be far too low. The adjuster will play on your anxiety to get a quick settlement, even when you don’t know the extent of the medical treatment you will need, the permanency of your injuries, and the full value of your damages. It is a mistake to accept the first offer or to sign anything the insurance company asks you to sign without consulting with your attorney.
Skipping Out on Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
In all cases, you should consult with an attorney. A reliable attorney will tell you whether you will benefit from representation or not. In extremely small claims, it may make sense for you to attempt to negotiate your own settlement with the insurance company. However, it is a mistake to not retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in a claim of any significance. Insurance companies are motivated by the profits which they earn by denying and undervaluing bodily injury claims. Your attorney knows the process inside and out and can negotiate on your behalf from a position of strength you don’t have on your own.
Reliable Legal Assistance
If you have been injured by a negligent driver in a Kansas or Missouri car accident, don’t make the mistake of not talking to the Grover Law Firm, LLC, about your case. The firm won’t charge you for a consultation. Also, the attorneys will be straightforward about your claim and be by your side the entire time.
Make no mistake. Call Grover Law Firm, LLC, in Overland Park, Kansas.