Whenever an individual is involved in a car accident or collision in Kansas City, it is imperative that they act responsibly and according to the regulations of the State law. We all have a tendency to panic in such situations and can often end up doing things that we may regret later. Here are some common mistakes that people make after being involved in a car accident:
Fleeing or failing to remain at the scene: Our first instinct may be to run if we hit somebody but that is definitely a mistake we should all avoid. It is mandatory to remain on the scene after a car accident. This is the law and there is no excuse for doing anything otherwise. If, at any time, you hit another car, pedestrian or property, you must stop and stay on the scene till the situation is resolved. If you decide to leave the scene, you can be charged with a hit and run even if the accident was not your fault. You also need to know that penalties for hit and run are very serious and can include incarceration and/or a monetary penalty. You can end up losing not only your license but also a significant amount of money.
There are certain exceptions to this rule however. If you get into a collision with a parked vehicle and are unable to locate the owner, the law states that you are allowed to leave as long as you leave behind a piece of paper with your address, name and a short explanation of what transpired. In addition, you must notify your local police, either in person or by telephone. These are some precautions that you should typically take to ensure that the other party does not press charges against you.
Failing to call the police: If you are involved in a car accident and do not call the police thinking that it is a minor incident, that may turn out to be a mistake. If you do not call the police, and if there is no official report of the incident in question, you may never be able to prove the case or the fact that you were not at fault, in case such a situation arises. In addition, your insurance company may also suspect that you are trying to cover up something or are involved in a fraudulent scheme if you fail to call the police.
Failing to get information from the other driver: Most people, when they are involved in a car accident, become anxious or stressed. In such a stressful situation, you may forget to ask the other driver his address, car insurance or his/her license. Be sure not to do that. You should, at the very least, get the names of the driver and all passengers involved, the license plate number and the driver’s insurance policy. You should also note the type of car, model and license plate. If there were any witnesses, get their information too and make sure to note down the information of the policemen that arrive on the scene – name, badge number and contact information. You never know when you may need this information.
Failing to take pictures: Almost everyone today has a cellphone that is equipped with a camera. If you are involved in a car accident, make sure you take pictures of the scene. Take pictures from different angles of the cars that were involved in the accident, any damage to the vehicles, injuries to drivers and/or passengers, pictures of the surrounding area and anything that may be relevant to the car accident- like skid marks, traffic lights, etc. The more visual evidence you have, the greater the chances that a lawyer can better assist you.
Failing to seek medical help: Most drivers and passengers involved in car accidents never seek immediate medical help unless the injuries are extremely severe. After a few days, they may consult their primary care provider complaining of low back or neck pain. This is a major mistake. You may feel fine after an accident but since you have no idea what type of injury may have occurred, it is in your best interest to go to the doctor the very same day. If you do not get to the hospital and if you do not have a record of what happened, what injuries you suffered (major or minor), the symptoms you felt etc., then your claim for injury may be denied. Insurance companies can be very thorough and they will not believe you if you complain of neck pain three weeks after the accident. When you are at the hospital, provide a full history and tell the doctor about every symptom that you have, even minor. This may help your case tremendously if the need arises.
Failing to notify your insurance company: Many people who get involved in a car accident fail to notify their insurance carrier. This is another major error on their part. Even if the police officer says that the other driver was at fault, you will still need to report the accident to your insurance company. In addition, you also need to contact the other driver’s insurance company and send them a report. Almost all insurance companies have a deadline within which you can make a claim. If you are late, your claim may be denied.
Failing to negotiate with the insurance company: When people are involved in an accident which is not their fault, they often feel relieved and excited when the other party’s insurance company calls them and offers them a settlement. The first rule of thumb is to be patient and ask questions. Obviously, it is in the interest of the insurance company to settle the issue with the least amount of cost. Therefore, be sure of what you’re agreeing to do concerning your claim. Ensure that you get your car assessed for damages by an independent expert to see if you will be able to recover the amount that will be spent to fix it. You should also generally not settle for lump sum payments for any injuries. Speak to a qualified lawyer first because you may have a severe injury and may be entitled to more money than you think.
Overall, keep in mind that car accidents, minor or major, have many ifs and buts that need to be dealt with. At Krause & Kinsman, we ensure that our clients receive the best compensation for any personal loss, injuries or damages that they may have incurred due to an accident. Call us now for a consultation and we will make sure you get what is rightfully yours.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.