Five Mistakes to Avoid If You Are In a Motor Vehicle Accident (2003)


Susan Weyant


If you've ever been in a motor vehicle accident, you know that it is a very confusing time. You may be injured. You undoubtedly have some damage, maybe significant damage, to your motor vehicle. You are not thinking clearly. Unfortunately this leads to mistakes in handling the situation that can later affect your rights to compensation for your injuries and losses. What mistakes can you avoid?


Not Reporting the Accident to the Police
If you've been in an accident, it is important to get an official record of the incident. This means that you must call the police, report the accident and wait for them to come to the scene and write a report. A police report of an accident is an essential piece of evidence that contains information that may help you later if you decide to file a lawsuit.

Not Reporting the Accident to Your Auto Insurance Carrier
Even if you feel the accident is not your fault, call your auto insurance carrier to report the accident. Failure to contact them and file the appropriate applications in a timely manner may affect your rights later to receive medical treatment, reimbursement for lost wages, etc.


Not Obtaining Photos of the Damage
To preserve evidence, you should take photographs of any and all damage done to your motor vehicle.


Not Receiving Medical Treatment
If you feel you are injured, receive medical treatment immediately --- even if you are not covered by private health insurance. Most people injured in a motor vehicle accident do not realize that their medical treatment is covered NOT by their private health insurance plan, but by their auto insurance plan. Thus, people who do not have health insurance often do not get medical treatment after they have been in an accident. Failure to document your injuries and receive follow-up treatment as recommended by your treating physician may negatively affect your rights for compensation later on.

Not Contacting Your attorney Right Away
Failure to contact an attorney right away may affect your rights to sue or to apply for No-Fault benefits to compensate you for your injuries and losses. An attorney will explain to you the confusing auto insurance system, which applications you must file and when you must file these applications (in some cases, your deadline to file is as early as 30 days from the date of your accident). Finally, if you delay in having your attorney file a lawsuit, when appropriate, you may be forever prevented by law from bringing the suit later on.