After you have been in an accident, there are many things you should do. We addressed these in earlier blog post. See, “Five Things to Do After an Accident”. Just as important as the things you should do, are the things you should NOT do. Here are five things you should not do:
- Do not confront the other driver
Emotions often run high after an accident. It is best to remain calm and avoid making accusations or threats to the other driver. This could lead to an altercation and put your safety at risk. Instead, first assess whether there are injuries and whether medical treatment is needed. Then, call the police.
- Do not make any statements about your fault in causing the accident
Many factors determine who ultimately should be held at fault for an accident. Avoid making statements such as “it was my fault” or “I should not have been driving so fast” that can be used against you later on. New Mexico is a comparative fault state, which means fault can be apportioned to both drivers in percentages. Therefore, admissions or concessions as to liability can be detrimental to you. This is why it is important to hire an attorney that can conduct a complete investigation and protect your rights as to all aspects of the case, including liability (i.e. who was at fault).
- Do not make social media posts about the accident
Written statements and photos posted online about the accident are discoverable in a lawsuit. That means you could be forced to produce to the insurance company what you posted, even if you immediately deleted it. Even though it may be tempting to “vent” about the accident, you should avoid discussing your accident on social media.
- Do not give a recorded statement
Soon after an accident, insurance companies will typically ask you to give a recorded statement. In this recorded statement, an insurance adjuster will ask you questions about the accident and your injuries. You should consult with an attorney before giving a recorded statement, particularly if liability (who is at fault) could be disputed. Insurance companies often use recorded statements to obtain information designed to limit liability for their insured.
- Do not accept a quick settlement
Insurance companies love to offer quick cash after an accident so that—as they often say—you are “taken care of”. Do not be tricked into accepting their offer. It is a trap. Once you accept it, you will be forced to sign a release that will forever close your claim. These quick settlement offers are almost always a below-market offer deliberately offered soon after an accident while you are vulnerable. They are counting on you making a poor, emotionally- driven, short-term decision. Before accepting a settlement, you should contact an attorney to help you understand your claim.