In Virginia, if you are seriously injured by another driver’s carelessness, you need to protect your legal claim. While knowing what to do after an accident is important, it’s just as essential not to do things that undermine your case. There are specific mistakes to avoid after a Virginia car accident.
Mistake #1: Failing to Get Medical Treatment
After any accident, getting medical treatment, including a full medical evaluation of your injuries, is the top priority. You can feel fine after an accident when you actually have extremely serious — and even life threatening — injuries.
Many types of injuries do not manifest outward signs immediately. That is because the sudden deceleration and impact of an accident causes serious trauma inside your body. The risk of injury is even greater if any part of your body collides with something inside your car.
The most serious type of injury that frequently goes unnoticed immediately after an accident is injury to the brain. Even a concussion — a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) — puts you at significant risk.
If you are in a serious accident, get medical treatment for obvious injuries and get a full, immediate medical evaluation, even if you don’t seem to have obvious injuries. Make sure that everyone riding in your vehicle does the same thing.
Mistake #2: Talking Too Much at the Accident Scene
When an unforeseen event occurs, it is natural to start talking about what just happened. You should try hard to avoid making any comments or statements of opinion at the accident scene. Talking can harm your legal claim.
Here are examples of what not to say at the accident scene:
- “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see your car.”
- “I was looking at my phone when I got hit.”
- “I think it was my fault.”
- “I’m fine. I don’t need to see a doctor.”
Remember that your perspective about what happened is just one opinion about what caused the accident. You might be wrong in your immediate assessment. You can hurt your legal claim by speculating about what you think caused the accident.
You have to talk to law enforcement at the scene. When you do, stick to the facts that you know with certainty. Don’t offer your opinions about what might have caused the accident or who might be at fault.
Mistake #3: Talking With the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
When you’re in a car accident, you have to report the crash to your own insurance company. If the accident involved another driver, that person’s insurance company probably will contact you. Especially if you received serious injuries, do not talk to the other driver’s insurance adjuster.
The goal of the insurance company for the at-fault driver is to avoid paying you at all or to pay you the smallest possible amount of compensation. Adjusters know how to manipulate injured victims into making statements that harm their claim. They also know how to convince you to settle your claim for less than you deserve.
If you suffer significant injuries, you should talk with an experienced personal injury attorney about your accident and injuries. When the at-fault person’s insurance company calls, simply tell them that your lawyer will call them.
Learn more about when you should talk with an attorney in our article, When Should You Talk With an Automobile Accident Lawyer?
Mistake #4: Trying to Settle Your Own Claim
If you think you can get more money by settling your own claim, you probably are making a serious mistake. When you negotiate with an insurance adjuster, you are dealing with a person trained and experienced at minimizing the insurance company’s payout.
If you suffered significant injuries, having an experienced car accident attorney handle your claim gives you the best chance of recovering full compensation. Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for your initial consultation, so you lose nothing by taking the time to talk with one.
Mistake #5: Posting on Social Media
If you are an avid user of social media, this mistake is #2 on your list (after getting medical treatment). Posting on social media about your accident, your injuries, or your recovery is the quickest way to undermine your legal claim. You may even risk being blamed for the accident or losing your right too compensation completely.
You may not realize that opposing attorneys, insurance companies, and law enforcement all check social media posts for information relating to accidents and victims. They do.
The rule is easy to remember. If you have any type of legal claim pending, avoid posting on social media completely. You also should ask your friends and family not to post about your accident.
Anything you post (or that someone else posts) — whether, it is a comment, photo, or video — can be used against you to demonstrate that:
- The accident was your fault.
- Your own negligence contributed to the accident or your injuries. (In Virginia, contributory negligence prevents any recovery in a personal injury case.)
- Your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
Insurance adjusters and opposing lawyers won’t just look at your new posts. They will examine your prior posts to find any evidence that can harm your case.
The safest step to take is deleting your social media accounts. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, change your privacy settings — and do not talk about your accident or injuries if you continue to post. Be sure to deny friend requests from anyone who is not a relative or personal friend.
Talk With an Experienced Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyer
If you received serious injuries in an auto accident that was another person’s fault, Virginia Beach personal injury attorney Jeffrey Brooke is here to help. The Jeff Brooke Team always keeps your and your family’s best interests at heart and aggressively pursues your case to get the full compensation you deserve.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.