Even though minor car collisions, or “fender benders,” are relatively common, they can still leave you in a state of shock or confusion. In the moment, it can be hard to keep calm and think through the appropriate steps to take. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
Mistake #1: Not getting the information you need
It can be tempting to want to get home as soon as possible, but don’t make the mistake of leaving the scene of an accident until you have all of the information you need. Take your time–it may be worth it later! Don’t let the other driver pressure you into simply exchanging the contact information and working out the details later. Make sure you have the other driver’s full contact information, including their insurance information, as well the contact information of any witnesses present on the scene. By taking your time and making sure you’ve gotten all the important details down, you avoid potential headaches later if you decide to submit a claim.
Mistake #2: Not calling law enforcement
If it’s a minor accident and no one seems hurt, you may feel silly calling the police. However, South Carolina state law requires you to contact the police if the damages from the accident exceed $1,000. Since it can be hard to assess damages accurately, it can’t hurt to call the police. It’s also important to have an official police report if you and the other driver don’t agree about who was at fault. Worst case scenario, without an official record the other driver could deny that the accident ever happened.
Mistake #3: Not taking photos
Take photos of all damage to both your vehicle and the other driver’s. In addition, document as best you can any injuries–bruising, whiplash, a sprain, etc.. Recording and photographing these details where possible may help to prove the cause and extent of damage later on if necessary.
Mistake #4: Saying you’re sorry
Don’t apologize to be courteous. You may be sorry that the accident even happened, but apologizing can seem like admitting fault. It’s often unclear who is at fault immediately following an accident, so don’t admit fault right away. Be courteous but careful–your word may be used against you later!
Mistake #5: Not seeking medical attention
Right after the collision, you may not notice any injuries. However, some types of injury can take days or even weeks to appear. Play it safe and seek medical attention as soon as you notice soreness, numbness, tingling, or pain of any sort. Keep all medical records or bills following the accident, as those may be valuable evidence in your case should you decide to pursue legal action.
Mistake #6: Not contacting your own insurance company
A common myth is that you do not need to contact your insurance company if you were not at fault. Even if you were not at fault, you should contact your insurance company right away to report any injuries or property damage from the accident, especially if the other driver’s insurance company denies responsibility or drags its feet.
Mistake #7: Not understanding your rights
There are many types of damages for which you could be compensated after a car accident. Aside from vehicle damage or medical bills, you could also be entitled to receive compensation for time lost from work, emotional or mental suffering, or even inconvenience.
That’s where an experienced attorney can help you. If you are unsure whether the circumstances of your case warrant compensation, set up a free consultation with Smith Injury Law. With twenty-five years of experience in Personal Injury law, Richard Smith can help to explain your legal options and fight for your rights.
Disclaimer: Principle office is located at 1210 Laurens Rd, Greenville, SC 29607. No fee unless the case is settled or won, costs may be excluded.