After suffering an injury due to a car wreck, it is vital to take the necessary steps to ensure that you receive fair compensation. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes that can jeopardize their chances of receiving a just settlement or any settlement at all. For this reason, we at Lewis & Keller want to help our neighbors avoid certain errors when filing an accident claim in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Read on to learn about eight of the most common mistakes made by claimants, and learn what you can do to protect yourself and maximize your eventual settlement in your Winston-Salem car accident claim.
1. Admitting Fault or Apologizing
After an accident, it is common for individuals to want to explain what occurred. However, admitting fault or apologizing can harm your case. It is best to stick to the facts and avoid making any statements that could be used against you later on. By admitting fault, you are taking responsibility for the collision, which could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
2. Neglecting To Document the Scene
Documentation is an important factor when filing a claim. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, including both vehicles and your injuries, and gather contact information from any witnesses. This information can be the key to building a robust case.
In addition to taking pictures and gathering witness information, it’s also good practice to file a police report. Obtaining a copy of the police report can be beneficial because it will serve as evidence of the incident and can be used to establish liability.
3. Ignoring Medical Advice or Failing To See a Doctor
Seeking medical attention immediately after a wreck in which you are injured is critical. This is not only for your health, but it also creates a record of your injuries. Failure to follow your doctor’s advice or skipping appointments can harm your case. If you do not follow the recommended treatment plan, the insurance company can argue that your injuries were not severe enough to warrant compensation or that you made the injuries worse by neglecting to care for yourself.
4. Not Notifying Your Insurance Company
It is essential to notify your insurance company of the crash, even if you do not plan to file a claim with them. Your policy often requires this, and failing to do so could result in your claim being denied. Certain policies may even have specific timelines within which you must report your accident.
Informing your insurance company can also help you understand your coverage and potential compensation options.
5. Speaking With the Insurance Adjuster on Your Own
Insurance adjusters are trained to minimize payouts. Speaking with them on your own can be risky as they may try to get you to say things that could hurt your case. It is best to have an experienced lawyer handle all communications with the insurance company.
A lawyer can ensure that you do not say anything that could negatively impact your case and can help you negotiate for a fair settlement.
6. Agreeing to the First Settlement Offer You’re Given
Insurance companies often make lowball settlement offers in the hopes that you will accept them and avoid going to court. Remember that you have the right to negotiate (your lawyer can do so on your behalf to ensure a fair settlement) and the first offer is rarely the best offer.
Before accepting any settlement, consult with your trusted legal representative who can help you determine whether the settlement is fair or not.
7. Waiting To Start the Legal Process
The statute of limitations for motor vehicle accident claims in North Carolina is three years. This gives injured individuals three years from the date of the accident to file their claim.
Waiting too long to file your claim can harm your chances of success. Evidence can disappear, witnesses can forget details, and memories can fade over time. Too much of a delay could even bar you from seeking damages at all. Therefore, always be sure to start the legal process as soon as possible to ensure that you have the best chance of receiving the full value of your losses.
8. Not Consulting a Lawyer
Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make in your claim is failing to consult with a legal advocate. An attorney can help you navigate the legal system, negotiate with insurance companies, and build a strong case on your behalf. They can also help you understand your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
If your life has been affected in the aftermath of a car crash, it is crucial to avoid making the mistakes mentioned above. Taking the proper steps and consulting with our caring and competent North Carolina auto wreck attorneys can help ensure that your rights are protected and you can begin moving forward from your accident.