We recently published a list of 15 things to do after a car accident in South Carolina. While it is extremely important to know what to do, it is important to know what not to do as well. With this in mind, here is a list of 10 things NOT to do after being involved in a vehicle collision:
1. Fail to Report the Accident to the South Carolina Police or DMV
Under South Carolina law, if you are involved in an accident that results in injury or death, you are required to report the accident to the police. You may also be required to report the accident to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Failure to do so can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense, and can potentially lead to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
2. Fail to File a Claim with Your Insurance Company
In addition to reporting your accident to the authorities, you must also report the accident to your auto insurance company. The major insurance companies all require their policyholders to report accidents promptly—and in some cases within a specific number of days. If you fail to report your accident promptly, your insurance company could try to use this as grounds for denying coverage. It could also potentially lead to termination of your policy.
3. Assume Your Pain Will Go Away
If you are experiencing pain following your car accident, you should see a doctor right away. You should not assume that your pain will go away. Collisions can cause both internal and external injuries, and some internal injuries can require prompt treatment in order to prevent complications.
If you ignore your pain, not only could this prolong your recovery (and potentially lead to the need for more-intensive treatment), but it could also negatively impact your insurance claim. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the easier it will become for the insurance companies to argue that you cannot prove your injuries are accident-related.
4. Assume You are Fine
Even if you are not in pain, you should not assume you are fine. Hopefully you are fine, but in many cases car accident victims do not experience symptoms right away. Your adrenaline could be masking your pain, or you could have suffered an internal injury that has not triggered immediate symptoms.
In order to make sure you are fine, you should consult with a physician. Tell your doctor what happened, and allow him or her to perform a thorough examination.
5. Let the Insurance Companies Take Control Your Claim
When you have an auto insurance claim, you need to take control of the process. If you let the insurance companies dictate the outcome, you will almost certainly end up with less than you deserve. This applies with regard to both (i) the available coverage for repairing or replacing your vehicle, and (ii) the compensation you are entitled to receive for your injury-related losses.
For example, accident victims frequently lose out on coverage with regard to:
- Repairing their vehicles with new OEM parts (as opposed to refurbished or generic parts)
- Obtaining full replacement value for totaled vehicles
- Obtaining compensation for their future medical expenses and loss of income
- Obtaining compensation for their pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and other non-financial losses
6. Overlook Potential Sources of Financial Compensation
If you have been injured in a car accident, filing an auto insurance claim might not be your only option for recovering financial compensation. For example, depending on the circumstances involved, you could also have a claim against:
- The other driver’s employer (if he or she was working at the time of the accident)
- Your (or the other driver’s) vehicle manufacturer
- A repair shop or dealership that worked on your (or the other driver’s) vehicle
- A bar or restaurant (if the other driver was drunk behind the wheel)
- The state or local government agency responsible for constructing or maintaining the road
7. Accept a Settlement Without Calculating Your Losses
If you were seriously injured in the accident, you might receive a quick settlement offer. If you do, you need to be very careful not to settle your claim for less than it is worth. In fact, you should not settle your claim until you have a clear understanding of the costs of your injuries. Insurance companies’ early settlement offers are usually very low, and they usually do not include any compensation for accident victims’ non-financial losses.
8. Allow Yourself to Go Into Debt
If you are unable to work as a result of your injuries, or if your medical bills are more than you can afford, you should not let yourself go into debt. There are options available, and an attorney may be able to help you avoid collections while your car accident claim is pending. For example, your attorney may be able to work with your medical providers to delay billing until your claim is resolved, and your attorney can help you weigh options such as pre-settlement lawsuit funding.
9. Talk about the Accident or Post about It on Social Media
While your claim is pending, you should avoid discussing the accident with anyone. This includes posting about the accident on social media. If you talk about the accident, the insurance companies may try to use your friends and family members as witnesses against you; and, if you post on social media, the insurance companies may try to use your posts against you as well.
10. Try to Handle Your Situation on Your Own
Due to all of the various challenges involved in recovering your losses after a car accident, it is important not to try to handle your situation on your own. Help is available, and you can hire a local attorney at no out-of-pocket cost. At Lewis Law Firm LLC, we handle all car accident claims on a contingency-fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we win.
Talk to a Rock Hill, SC Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Were you recently involved in a car accident in South Carolina? If so, we encourage you to contact us right away so that we can help protect your legal rights. To speak with an experienced Rock Hill, SC car accident lawyer in confidence, call 803-327-1103 or request a free consultation online now.