As experienced car accident attorneys in St. Louis, we understand the legal complexities of car accident claims. Trust us when we say that what you do in the aftermath of a serious car accident can have a tremendous impact on your future. Contact Tom Wilmowski to learn more

Although some car accidents are caused by driver errors and negligence, others are unavoidable. And while drivers in these situations don’t have control over whether or not they are involved in an accident, they do have control over how they handle the aftermath. 

The reality is that your actions in the wake of a car accident can make securing compensation much easier — or much harder. As leading car accident lawyers in St. Louis, we want accident victims to have access to the information they deserve. This article will explain a few critical mistakes to avoid after a car accident and how a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal process. 

Mistake #1: Not Getting Medical Treatment

One of the most common mistakes motorists make after their accidents is failing to get proper treatment. Although you might feel absolutely fine after a crash, the true extent of your car accident injuries may be challenging to determine without a real diagnosis. You may experience a surge of adrenaline after a collision, and this can easily numb the pain. Psychological shock can also trigger a “fight-or-flight” reflex, causing you to flee the scene and refuse treatment. Or, a serious head injury could cause abnormal behavior, and you might suddenly find yourself at home with no memory of the accident. 

All of these factors highlight the need to accept medical care as soon as possible – ideally at an emergency room immediately after the accident. Even if you can’t detect a single scrape, it still makes sense to get checked out by a medical professional. Your health is the most important priority after an accident, and it’s best to err on the side of caution. Some injuries become progressively worse with time, and what seems like a slight neck ache may degrade into a serious spinal issue within just a few days. 

Getting immediate medical attention can also be beneficial from a legal perspective. If you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, having a documented hospital visit on your medical record can help dispel any notion that your injuries occurred after the wreck or that you weren’t actually in need of medical treatment.

The Importance of Your Medical Records

With prompt treatment after an accident, your medical records will highlight all of your various injuries. Your records might also include medical images before surgeries and other treatments, and these images can illustrate the severity of your car crash. For example, doctors may take X-rays and photographs of a fractured leg before placing it in a cast. 

If you seek proper treatment, you can use all of these medical records as evidence while you pursue compensation. Insurance adjusters may call into question the severity – or even the existence – of your injuries as you negotiate for a settlement. In response to these arguments, your car accident attorney can simply point to your medical records and highlight the need for compensation. 

What Happens if I Don’t Get Medical Treatment?

If you don’t get medical treatment after an accident, insurance adjusters may try to dismiss your car accident claim. They may argue that your injuries existed before the accident, or that you’re making everything up. Insurance companies might also call into question the severity of your injuries if you delay for weeks before seeking attention. While treatment can be expensive, it doesn’t make sense to stay home and attempt to heal without medical assistance — especially when considering that a personal injury claim can provide you with all the compensation you need to recoup your losses. Perhaps most notably, you can only pursue legal action if you can prove you suffered real injuries. 

Mistake #2: Posting on Social Media After an Accident

As a general rule, you should avoid posting on social media in the aftermath of a car accident in Missouri. While it might feel tempting to update your friends and family about the situation, a seemingly innocent post can have negative consequences if misinterpreted. Many people do not realize that social media posts function as signed statements in the legal system, meaning that anything you say or post online can be used against you in court. 

For example, you may have been struck by a negligent driver while riding your bicycle – perhaps suffering a torn ankle ligament in the process. Doctors may warn you to avoid walking on the ankle for months, and they might provide you with crutches. What happens if your friends visit and ask you to join a group selfie? Even though you cannot put any pressure on your ankle, you might abandon your crutches and balance on one leg to stand alongside your friends. Casual observers might look at the image and assume that you’re standing without assistance. Even more concerning, an insurance adjuster might point to this photo and imply that you are faking your ankle injury. This could prevent you from obtaining any compensation. 

Social media can negatively affect your injury claim in many ways. Most plaintiffs are not aware of the subtle, complex legal implications of their social media posts, and this is why many personal injury lawyers encourage their clients to stay offline until they have received compensation. 

Mistake #3: Accepting the First Settlement Offer 

Another common mistake is to accept the first settlement offer after an auto accident. Almost inevitably, this will be a “low-ball” sum that does not cover even a fraction of your total damages. Unfortunately, many injured plaintiffs feel extremely desperate due to the financial pressures of medical expenses and missed wages. Insurers are well aware of this, and they may imply that if you don’t accept the offer now, you’ll lose any chance of future compensation. 

Although it might seem tempting to accept the cash right away and start paying your medical bills, it’s a good idea to let your injury lawyer can help negotiate a fair settlement that accurately reflects the true extent of your damages. This negotiation process can be time-consuming but will likely provide you with a settlement that provides more financial security than the original offer.

Long-term financial security may be especially important for those who have suffered serious, life-altering, and disabling injuries. You may never work again due to your injuries, and you might need to pursue a settlement that covers a lifetime of missed wages and ongoing medical expenses. Fair compensation may also include non-economic damages, such as emotional distress, loss of purpose of life, PTSD, disfigurement, and anything else you might have been forced to endure. 

What Are the Consequences of These Mistakes? 

Simply put, the consequences of making one or more of these mistakes may be that you are unable to recover the compensation you need — and deserve — to recover. Long after your physical injuries have healed, you may find yourself suffering the financial consequences of someone else’s negligent actions.

Even if are able to secure compensation, it may not be the amount you actually deserve. The at-fault party’s attorney or your insurance adjuster may leverage your mistakes to reduce your payout, and you may not be able to stop it. Fortunately, there is someone who can help. An experienced car accident lawyer can protect your legal rights and fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve.

Get in Touch with a Qualified Car Accident Attorney in Missouri

It is easy to make mistakes in the aftermath of a car accident, especially if you have experienced serious injuries and lasting psychological trauma. You might have suffered a traumatic head injury, and perhaps you’re finding it difficult to think clearly. Perhaps a severe concussion has made it impossible to remember the accident in any detail. You might be more preoccupied with treating life-threatening injuries than following proper legal procedures. 

Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced car accident attorney in Missouri at your earliest convenience. Not only can these legal professionals steer you away from common mistakes after an accident, but they can also guide you toward crucial compensation. To discuss the most appropriate legal steps based on your unique situation, contact Tom Wilmowski for a free consultation.