Very few events in life can impact individuals and families like a serious car accident. They are often watershed moments in the lives of injured victims, and the consequences of dealing with injuries and claims for bodily hurt and property damage can be daunting for those in the aftermath. But there are important things to consider if you’ve been involved in a car accident, things that might make a significant difference to how recovery from an accident unfolds.
While it is a given that someone should call 911 as soon as possible when there is extended property damage or any type of injury requiring treatment, there are also some specific actions that involved parties should avoid in the immediate aftermath. This includes passengers and witnesses as well as drivers, and this especially applies in states like North Carolina that use the contributory negligence law. Saying too much or taking certain actions at the scene of the accident can be a problem when the case is finally settled, especially if the actions or comments are included in the official accident report.
1. Leaving the Scene of the Accident
North Carolina law states clearly that it is unlawful for involved parties to leave the scene of an accident when someone is injured or there is any significant physical property damage. Even in some minor damage cases with no personal injuries, it is still the best decision to stay even when exchanging personal information and insurance carriers. North Carolina has a strict negligence law that allows insurance providers to deny claims when the injured claimant is 1% or greater responsibility for their own damages or personal injury. Remaining at the scene until the official report information is given is always the most prudent decision.
2. Admitting Fault
It cannot be overstated that it is vital to never admit fault following an auto accident in North Carolina. All insurance companies in the state are focused on denying as many property and injury claims as possible, including and especially in serious injury situations. Going to court is typically required for whole compensation in North Carolina due to the state contributory negligence injury law. It is the most restrictive compensation law in the nation, and auto insurance companies use it every day and in every claim when they can. This includes when discussing the accident with the investigating officers or with any insurance provider representative. All North Carolina car accident lawyers will advise remaining silent regarding all aspects of the incident, and maybe refuse to answer any questions. Alternatively, be very careful and only give minimal succinct or evasive responses. And do not lie to officials.
3. Failing to Seek Medical Treatment
Many times emergency medical technicians are focused on the most severely injured victims, and those who are mobile and apparently injured only superficially will be secondary for attention. Always check to see how serious your injuries actually are, including internal, and then seek medical evaluation as soon as possible. Injury claims can be denied when victims wait to have an issue evaluated, and many times there is internal bleeding occurring that is not being detected. Quick medical attention is important for all involved parties even when seemingly uninjured because mental anguish can also be a claim element in some cases.
4. Engaging With Other Involved Drivers
Auto accidents can cause tempers to flare, and those who are still mobile may want to confront another driver. This is never a good decision for a variety of reasons, but the most important reason is that accident scenes can be crime scenes as well. Officers will be asking questions about what transpired along with searching vehicles for contraband or other evidence that can give them information for the official report. Even a verbal exchange can be considered an assault. It is best to remain calm and only talk when questioned by a police officer concerning the accident, including responding to statements from other involved parties or witnesses.
5. Not Gathering Evidence for Personal Records
Modern technology can be a real advantage after an auto accident. A cell phone camera can be used to take photos of the accident scene and any victims with injuries. Additionally, involved parties who are trying to hide evidence or attempting to attack another individual can be videoed. Additionally, photographic evidence of skid marks and property damage can help when a respondent insurance company is trying to deflect fault away from their client to another injured claimant as part of a denied claim defense.
Car accident lawyers are in agreement that these are the five primary “do not do” actions for anyone involved in an accident in North Carolina. All accident injury claims in North Carolina must be total fault cases for damages to be awarded, which often does not bode well for involved drivers. The strict scrutiny of contributory negligence injury law makes being financially compensated following an accident a difficult legal task. Car accident lawyers in the state always advise you to be conscious of what is happening and be sure to consult with a legal professional as soon as possible after the incident.