When you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are lots of things you SHOULD do – seek medical attention, call the police, contact the insurance company. But what should you NOT do? In today’s blog, we discuss what you shouldn’t do after a car accident as any of these errors can seriously impact your legal rights and options down the line.
Don’t Flee the Scene
Pennsylvania law requires any driver involved in a motor vehicle accident to stop at or immediately return to the scene of the collision. If you leave the scene of an accident you’ve been involved in, you can actually be cited with a traffic violation, or even charged with a crime if the accident results in injury or death.
Don’t Forget to Report the Accident
Pennsylvania law also requires that any motor vehicle accident be reported to the local police or the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation within five days of the accident if it involves injury, death, or severe damage to any vehicle involved in the crash. You can fulfill this requirement by calling the local police to report your accident, although the law does not require officers to respond to an accident that doesn’t involve injury or serious property damage. An official written accident report often serves as critical evidence in car accident claims.
In addition, you should also notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not you were at fault. If you fail to notify your insurer within the time frame required under the terms of your policy, your insurance company can decline coverage for the accident.
Don’t Get Angry
Although it may be natural to get angry after an accident, especially if you think the other driver was responsible for the crash, it is critical to keep your cool. Directing your anger at others may end up hurting your claim later on, especially if the other driver tries to argue that your anger was an attempt to deflect blame for the crash.
Don’t Fail to Document the Accident Scene
You should remember to collect as much information at the scene of the accident as possible, including the contact and insurance information from each of the motorists involved in the accident. Also try to get contact information for any third-party eyewitnesses to the accident, or get a short statement from them.
Most importantly, you should photograph or video the accident scene, including the damage and positions of the vehicles involved, the traffic controls and road lines at the scene, and the weather, traffic, and road conditions at the time of the accident.
Don’t Admit Fault for the Crash
Your first instinct when talking to the other driver may be to say “I’m sorry.” However, you should avoid making any statements that might be construed as admitting fault for the accident, even if you do think you were at fault. Those statements may later be used to pin fault for the crash on you, even if other evidence tends to show that you weren’t responsible.
Don’t Forget to Seek Medical Attention
You should get checked out by a medical professional soon after the accident. If you don’t promptly document what injuries you suffered, if you later try to seek compensation for injuries the other driver or their insurance company may argue that you weren’t as seriously injured as you claim since you didn’t seek immediate medical attention, or that your injuries resulted from pre-existing conditions.
Don’t Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
It is likely that you may be contacted by the other driver’s insurer soon after the crash. You should keep in mind that the insurance company is likely fishing for a statement from you that they can use as proof of your fault for the accident. You should always decline to speak with the insurance companies and instead direct them to contact your attorney who can provide them with the information they need.
Don’t Try to Pursue a Claim for Compensation on Your Own
You might think that you can get more compensation by pursuing your claim without an attorney, in most cases car accident victims who have legal representation usually recover more compensation than accident victims without representation. Insurance companies can more easily pressure you into an unfair settlement when you don’t have the assistance of an attorney who understands your rights and knows what your case is truly worth.
Contact an Erie Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in Pennsylvania
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. represent clients injured because of car accidents in Millcreek, Harborcreek, Fairview, Meadville, and throughout Pennsylvania. Call (814) 833-7100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2525 W. 26th St., Erie, PA 16506, as well as offices in Meadville and North East.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.