Getting into a car accident is a stressful experience, but knowing how to handle the situation can make a world of difference. While there’s plenty of advice on what to do at a car accident scene, it’s equally important to know what not to do.
Making the wrong moves can not only escalate the situation but also affect your insurance claims and legal standing. In this blog, we’ll go over the 10 top mistakes people make at a car accident scene and how to avoid them and protect yourself and your interests.
1- Leaving the Scene Prematurely
One of the most significant mistakes people make is leaving an accident scene before it’s appropriate. In North Carolina, staying at the scene is legally required if the accident results in injury, death, or property damage.
Leaving prematurely could result in hit-and-run charges, which carry severe penalties. Always wait for the appropriate authorities to arrive and complete their reports before you consider leaving the scene.
2- Admitting Fault
Another common error is admitting fault at the accident scene. While it might be natural to apologize or admit wrongdoing, doing so can have profound legal implications.
North Carolina follows the “contributory negligence” rule, meaning if you’re even partially at fault for a car crash, you may face a denial when trying to recover damages.
It’s crucial to stick to the facts and let the insurance companies and legal professionals determine fault.
3- Failing to Document the Scene
In the age of smartphones, there’s no excuse not to document the accident scene thoroughly. Yet, many people neglect this crucial step.
Taking photos of the vehicles involved, the road conditions, and any visible injuries can provide invaluable evidence for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings. Failing to document the accident scene can make it more challenging to prove your case and may result in a less favorable outcome.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can better protect your interests and navigate the complexities of a car accident in North Carolina.
4- Neglecting to Call the Police
Some people think that a minor car crash doesn’t require police involvement, especially if both parties agree to settle it between themselves. However, in North Carolina, you’re legally obligated to report any car crash that results in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000.
Failing to call the police can lead to complications with your insurance claim and may even result in legal consequences. A police report serves as an unbiased account of the incident and can be crucial when settling disputes.
5- Ignoring Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, skipping medical attention is a mistake. Adrenaline can mask symptoms, and some injuries may not manifest until later.
A medical evaluation provides a record that you sought medical attention, which can be beneficial when filing an insurance claim or if legal issues arise. In North Carolina, failing to seek medical attention promptly can make it more difficult to link your injuries to the car crash, affecting your ability to claim damages.
6- Not Gathering Witness Information
Witness accounts can provide an additional layer of evidence that supports your version of events. Many people, however, forget to collect contact information from witnesses at the scene.
If the case goes to court or there’s a dispute with the insurance company, having witness statements can be a game-changer. Always try to gather names, phone numbers, and even brief reports from anyone who saw the accident.
Being aware of these additional mistakes and knowing how to avoid them can further safeguard your interests when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident in North Carolina.
7- Calling Your Insurance Company at the Scene
While it’s essential to report the accident to your insurance company, doing so immediately at the scene may not be the best idea. The chaos and stress of the moment can lead you to say things that might not accurately represent the situation or could even incriminate you.
It’s advisable first to gather all the necessary information, consult with authorities, and even seek legal advice before making that call. This ensures that when you speak to your insurance company, you provide clear and accurate information.
8- Providing Inconsistent Statements to Police Officers
When you’re at a car accident scene, it’s natural to feel stressed or anxious, but this emotional state can lead to inconsistencies in what you tell a police officer. If your account of events changes or contradicts itself, even slightly, it could cast doubt on your credibility.
Maintaining a consistent and truthful narrative is crucial in North Carolina, where contributory negligence can bar you from recovering damages.
Before speaking to the police, take a moment to collect your thoughts and recall the events as accurately as possible. Inconsistent statements can not only affect the police report but also have a lasting impact on insurance claims and any subsequent legal actions.
Insurance adjusters rely heavily on police reports to see a diagram of the crash scene, roadway issues, descriptions of drivers, other parties involved, and each vehicle. Their thorough investigation begins with understanding the collision through the eyes of the police officer on the scene.
Being aware of this mistake and avoiding it can further help you protect your interests and navigate the legal intricacies that often follow a car crash in North Carolina.
9- Forgetting to Notify Your Lienholder or Leasing Company
If you’re financing or leasing your vehicle, one mistake that often goes overlooked is failing to notify your lienholder or leasing company about the accident promptly.
Most finance and lease contracts require you to report any significant damage to the vehicle, as it affects the value and condition of an asset they have an interest in. Neglecting this step can lead to complications with your financial agreement and may even be considered a breach of contract.
In some cases, failure to notify could affect your ability to claim insurance for repairs, as the lienholder or leasing company may also have insurance requirements stipulated in your agreement.
By keeping your lienholder or leasing company in the loop, you fulfill your contractual obligations and avoid potential financial and legal complications down the line.
10- Delaying Vehicle Repairs and Ignoring Hidden Damage
After a car accident, some people choose to delay repairs, either to save money or because the damage appears minimal. This is a risky move, mainly because not all damage is visible to the naked eye. Hidden damage, like issues with the car’s frame or internal systems, can pose serious safety risks if not addressed promptly.
Insurance companies may question the validity of later claims for repairs if you don’t address the damage immediately after the accident.
By getting your vehicle inspected and repaired as soon as possible, you ensure your safety and strengthen your position when dealing with insurance claims or legal matters.
Our Experienced Collision Experts at Norris Paint and Bodyworx Can Help
At Norris Paint and Bodyworx, we understand how overwhelming a car accident can be, and we’re here to make the collision repair process as smooth as possible for you. Our skilled technicians specialize in identifying both visible and hidden damage, ensuring your vehicle is safe and back to its optimal condition.
Don’t let common mistakes at the accident scene affect your vehicle’s long-term health and your personal safety. Let us guide you through the body repair process, from initial inspection to the final touch-up, so you can get back on the road and regain your peace of mind.