This list of common mistakes to avoid after a traffic accident may be useful to you and your loved ones if you are involved in a traffic collision in South Florida or any other part of the country. If you or someone you love has been injured by a negligent driver, in South Florida you’ll need to discuss your legal rights and options with an experienced West Palm Beach car accident attorney. But even if you are not injured, and you do not seek compensation, you’ll want to avoid these ten common mistakes after a traffic crash.

1. NOT SEEKING MEDICAL CARE IMMEDIATELY

Seek medical attention at once after a traffic collision. Some injuries may seem trivial immediately after an accident, but later, those injuries may emerge as serious. For example, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are sometimes easy to ignore at first, but they may eventually become severe life-altering medical conditions. It is important to have a doctor properly assess you immediately after an accident. If your case results in a personal injury claim, you’ll have documented evidence of the injuries that were caused by the accident, and you’ll need that evidence.

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2. NOT TREATING SERIOUS INJURIES THAT EMERGE

After a traffic collision, you may feel aches or stiffness and assume that you don’t need medical care. However, these are important signals. So are tingling, numbness, and radiating pain, which could indicate a herniated disc or a damaged nerve. Whatever your symptoms are, follow your doctor’s recommendations until your pain is resolved. Trying to tough it out may only cause more damage to your body and health, and failing to work with your doctor will also damage your ability to succeed with a personal injury claim.

3. NOT CALLING THE POLICE AT ONCE

A police report can wind up as a critical piece of evidence in a personal injury proceeding because it’s an objective account of what happened. Call the police at once and make sure that you will receive a copy of the accident report. You may also need law officers as eyewitnesses if the other driver is impaired or hostile. Never admit any fault to the police or anyone else before consulting with a personal injury lawyer.

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4. FAILING TO EXCHANGE INSURANCE INFORMATION

If you are in any traffic crash, even when you think there’s no damage or injuries, you do not know what may happen next. You could wake in pain the next morning, but without the other driver’s insurance and contact information, you’ll be unable to claim compensation for your injuries. It is always better to exchange the insurance information. Get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number, insurance company, policy number, the make and model of the other vehicle, and the owner’s information if it differs from the driver’s.

5. FAILING TO GATHER EVIDENCE

After you contact the police and exchange insurance information, if you don’t require immediate medical treatment, then immediately start to gather evidence. Get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses, and take as many photographs as you can – or if you’re injured, have someone take them – of the accident scene, the vehicle damage, the license plates, and any visible injuries. Photograph the roadway and any crosswalks, traffic signals, street signs, and the debris from the crash. Make and keep copies of any documents – like medical bills, test results, and the police report – generated by the accident.

6. RELYING ON THE INSURANCE COMPANY

After any accident, you will probably get a call from the other driver’s insurance company. Don’t trust them, even if they have persuasive advertising. An insurance company’s overriding concern is the bottom line. An insurer might offer you a quick settlement – substantially below what your claim may actually be worth – or the company might try to avoid paying you anything at all. Do not make any statement to an insurance company or accept any settlement for an injury until you’ve consulted with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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7. PROCRASTINATING ABOUT A CLAIM

In every state, a statute of limitation restricts the amount of time that an injury victim has to file a claim for compensation. Personal injury lawsuits must be filed within a precise, specified amount of time. In general, once the statute of limitations on a case “runs out,” the legal claim is no longer valid, and after the deadline date, an injury victim no longer has legal recourse. Depending on where you live, you may need to take action quickly, but even in a state with a longer statute of limitations, you shouldn’t wait. If you’ve been injured, retain legal counsel at once.

8. FAILING TO UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS

Many people are unaware of their full legal rights when they’ve been injured by a negligent driver. Not only can victims claim damages for property losses and medical expenses, but damages can also be claimed for pain and suffering and lost wages. A good personal injury attorney can see to it that the insurance company meets its responsibility and treats you fairly, and your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company for the maximum amount available to you.

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9. ACCEPTING A QUICK SETTLEMENT

Never settle before you know the full extent of your injuries and before you’ve consulted a personal injury attorney. If you have suffered permanent and/or debilitating injuries, you must know the long-term prognosis to ensure that you will receive the compensation you need. Any settlement should adequately compensate you for the full extent and severity of your injuries and all of your current and future medical treatment, prescriptions, procedures, therapy, and rehabilitation.

10. FAILING TO CONSULT THE RIGHT LAWYER

Many people have a family attorney who has handled legal matters for their families in the past. Personal injury, however, is a specific legal field that requires considerable training and substantial experience. A good personal injury lawyer routinely and successfully represents the interests of clients, deals with insurance companies, negotiates settlements, and takes cases to trial when settlements cannot be reached. In South Florida, if you or someone you love is injured by a negligent driver, you’ll want to take your case to an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney.

In 2014, there were a total of 29,989 fatal crashes in the United States, and 32,675 people were killed in those collisions. Tens of thousands more were seriously injured, and any time there’s an accident with an injury or injuries, it’s a serious matter. Do not make the ten most common mistakes made after an accident, and you’ll very likely be able to win the justice – and the compensation – that you’ll need and deserve.