After a car accident in Connecticut, avoiding mistakes is critical to protecting your right to just compensation. This includes mistakes such as failing to seek medical attention, giving recorded statements to the insurance companies and settling before you know the full extent of your losses.
While there are steps you need to take after any car accident in Connecticut, if you have been injured, you must be especially careful to protect your legal rights. The costs of traumatic injuries can be substantial. And if someone else was at fault in the accident, you may be entitled to just compensation for your financial and non-financial losses.
In addition to taking certain steps, car accident victims must avoid some critical mistakes as well. While these mistakes will not necessarily jeopardize your claim, the more mistakes you make, the more opportunities the insurance companies will have to try to deny coverage for your losses.
15 Mistakes to Avoid after a Serious Car Accident in Connecticut
So, what kinds of mistakes are we talking about? Here are 15 mistakes accident victims should try to avoid after being injured in a serious collision:
Mistake #1: Not Collecting Important Information at the Scene of the Accident
If it isn’t already too late, you should try to make sure you collect as much information at the scene of the accident as possible. This includes:
- Photos of all vehicles involved
- Photos of the location where the accident occurred (including any traffic signs or signals)
- The other drivers’ vehicle and insurance information
- Names and contact information of any witnesses
- A copy of the police report or the responding officer’s contact information
If you are already home (or in the hospital) recovering from your injuries, it is okay if you didn’t collect all of the information listed above. Many accident victims’ injuries prevent them from doing anything while they wait for the EMTs to arrive. However, you should try to write down as many details as you can remember as soon as possible. In which direction were you traveling? What about the other vehicle? Do you know the other vehicle’s make, model, or color? Any details you can remember will help your attorney piece together your claim for compensation.
Mistake #2: Not Seeking Medical Attention Immediately
After being injured in a car accident, the single most important thing you can do is to seek medical attention right away. The forces involved in car accidents can easily cause severe traumatic injuries, and the symptoms of these injuries will not always manifest immediately. In order to protect your health and your claim for compensation, you should see a doctor as soon as possible (if you haven’t seen one already). And as discussed below, you should carefully follow his or her advice for the duration of your recovery.
Mistake #3: Assuming That You Were at Fault in the Accident
Regardless of the circumstances involved in the accident, you should not assume that you were at fault. Even if you were driving above the speed limit, even if you were looking at your phone, and even if you had something to drink before you got behind the wheel, it is still entirely possible that there was nothing you could have done to prevent the collision. In order to determine what happened, you will need to hire an attorney to conduct an investigation. This is another step that needs to be taken as soon as possible.
Mistake #4: Not Reporting the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Even if you are pretty sure that the other driver’s insurance company is going to be liable, you still need to report the accident to your insurer. Most auto insurance policies require drivers to report all accidents regardless of fault, and you may be entitled to no-fault PIP or MedPay coverage, which you can collect while your claim under the other driver’s policy is pending.
Mistake #5: Giving Recorded Statements to the Insurance Companies
While it is important that you report the accident to your insurer, you must also be careful not to give any more information than is required in order to initiate a claim. Generally, this includes where and when the accident occurred and the other driver’s insurance information (if you have it). You do not have to give a statement regarding what you think happened or who you think was at fault, and you should not do so. If you give a recorded statement, the insurance companies will only use it against you.
Mistake #6: Returning to Work If Your Doctor Has Recommended Rest
Once you return home from your doctor’s office or the hospital, you need to either (i) follow your doctor’s advice, or (ii) seek a second opinion promptly if you believe that one is necessary. With regard to following your doctor’s advice, one of the most common mistakes you need to avoid is returning to work too soon. Many people feel that they have to work in order to keep up with their monthly expenses and pay their medical bills. While this financial stress can be difficult to manage, there are options available. Resuming normal activity before your body is ready could make it more difficult to secure a full financial recovery.
Mistake #7: Not Filling Your Prescriptions or Purchasing Medical Supplies or Devices
Along the same lines, it is also important that you fill your prescriptions and purchase all medical supplies and devices (such as a knee or wrist brace) that your doctor recommends. When evaluating your claim, the insurance companies will be looking to see if you are doing everything you can to recover as quickly as possible. If you aren’t taking care of yourself according to your doctor’s recommendations, they may try to argue that you are at least partially to blame for the cost of your recovery.
Mistake #8: Missing Follow-Up Appointments or Delaying Procedures
This also means that you need to attend your follow-up appointments as scheduled. And if you need surgery, you generally shouldn’t delay your procedure. Of course, if your doctor says that surgery might not be necessary depending on how your body responds to treatment, then this may be a different story. As always, consult with your doctor, make sure you understand his or her recommendations, and speak with an attorney if you have any questions about how decisions regarding your medical care may impact your legal rights.
Mistake #10: Only Focusing on Your Immediate Losses
For many people, the immediate costs of being seriously injured in a car accident can be overwhelming. With the extraordinary cost of medical care, even a single visit to the emergency room can lead to thousands of dollars in unexpected medical bills that most accident victims can’t afford to pay.
However, when dealing with a serious traumatic injury, the long-term costs of medical care, rehabilitation, and therapy can far exceed the initial costs of treatment. When you add in loss of income, loss of future earning capacity, and non-financial losses, the total cost of being seriously injured in an accident can be substantial.
Mistake #11: Only Focusing on Your Financial Losses
While most people understand the direct financial impact of facing insurmountable medical bills and being unable to work, what many accident victims fail to realize is that their injuries can lead to significant non-financial losses as well. In serious accident cases, in addition to compensation for financial losses, accident victims will also be entitled to financial compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Other forms of non-financial harm
Mistake #12: Letting the Insurance Companies Tell You What Your Claim Is Worth
With all of these financial and non-financial costs in mind, when seeking just compensation after a car accident, you cannot trust the insurance companies to accurately value your claim. In most cases, the insurance companies will offer reimbursement for outstanding medical bills and perhaps some compensation for lost wages – and not much else. In order to calculate full compensation for your current and future financial and non-financial losses, you will need to work with an injury lawyer who has extensive experience handling serious car accident claims.
Mistake #13: Not Being Prepared to Take Your Claim to Court
The vast majority of car accident insurance claims settle. However, the percentage of these settlements that actually provide just compensation to the victim is another matter entirely. In order to negotiate a fair settlement, it is often necessary to show the insurance company that you are prepared to fight for your legal rights in court if necessary. Among other things, this means hiring an experienced lawyer with a track record of securing favorable results through settlement negotiations and at trial.
Mistake #14: Not Seeking Legal Representation Promptly
In order to determine the cause of the accident, avoid costly mistakes when dealing with the insurance companies, and accurately calculate your financial and non-financial losses, you need to work with an experienced attorney. There is simply no other way to effectively protect your legal rights. By hiring an attorney promptly, you can ensure that you are able to take advantage of every available opportunity to maximize your financial recovery.
Mistake #15: Discussing Your Claim with Anyone Other Than Your Attorney
Finally, while your claim is pending, it is important that you not discuss the accident with friends and family or post pictures or comments on social media. You will have the opportunity to tell everyone what happened eventually. But for now, you should keep the details between you and your attorney.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Connecticut Car Accident Claim in Confidence
With offices in Shelton, Stamford, Danbury, and Bridgeport, our firm represents victims of serious car accidents throughout Connecticut. To discuss your claim with one of our experienced injury lawyers, call us at 203-487-5728 or request a free consultation online today.