The days following an auto crash can be an overwhelming time for victims. Injured individuals may be buried in medical bills, unable to work, and bombarded with calls from insurance adjusters looking for statements. While payment from the at-fault driver may be available, it is unfortunately easy to jeopardize a claim. By avoiding a few simple mistakes, however, Lafayette car accident victims can preserve their right to compensation.
Admitting fault at the scene of a car accident in Lafayette is a mistake and could hurt a person’s case. In Louisiana, any statement by any party to a lawsuit could be used against them, even if it is hearsay. Insurance companies commonly introduce statements as evidence to avoid paying a claim. They may argue that the plaintiff’s admission means they share some or all of the blame for the accident.
Attorneys advise against making statements at the scene because victims are not in the right state of mind. They are in pain, their adrenaline levels are high, and they do not have the presence of mind to objectively evaluate and analyze the situation. Victims are in a better position to recall what happened several hours or days after the incident when they have calmed down and had time to process.
Similarly, crash victims should avoid apologizing to the other driver at the scene. Even if the victim was only trying to be polite, a jury may interpret “I’m sorry” as an admission of fault.
There is danger in giving recorded statements to the other driver’s insurance company before consulting with an attorney. What a victim says may be spun by the insurance company or its defense counsel and used against them later.
Victims are rarely in a position to understand the accident mechanics, the forces involved, or the science behind the collision. They may believe they know what happened, but uncovering the true cause of a crash is often complicated. Accidents happen quickly, and the drivers involved do not have the time, opportunity, or expertise needed to properly understand them.
In serious car accidents, an accident reconstruction expert may be needed to figure out the cause of the crash and the forces at play. When it comes to a plaintiff’s injuries, serious damage may not become apparent until days after a crash. Even if someone feels fine, there could be underlying complications that do not emerge until a later date. Evaluating one’s health is a task best left to medical professionals.
In some cases, the other driver’s insurance company may be quick to offer a settlement check. While it can be tempting to cash it, this can be a serious mistake. An insurance company’s initial offer is often insufficient to cover the full extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, especially given the rising cost of medical care. The danger of accepting a check is that it closes a case, meaning the victim may be unable to pursue additional compensation in the future. If they require ongoing medical treatment or rehabilitation, the initial settlement offer may not cover the costs.
For example, a car accident victim may suffer a back injury that will require surgery in the future. The insurance company’s offer may seem fair at the time, but it is difficult for victims to understand just how expensive their surgery will be. Additionally, an injury may be long term, preventing them from working in the same occupation in the future. Calculating a fair settlement value is a complicated task, and it takes time to verify the full extent of their injuries and other losses. For this reason, it is best to avoid accepting a check until speaking with an attorney.
It could be a mistake to fail to contact an attorney after a car accident in Lafayette. Most accident victims have little to no experience in the legal system. They often do not know what their rights are and how to properly evaluate any settlement offers. For this reason, many accident victims choose to work with an experienced attorney. A lawyer could provide valuable advice and fight tirelessly for maximum compensation.