A fender bender might be scary, but it isn’t life altering. A serious car accident, on the other hand, can leave you physically, emotionally, and financially compromised. While it’s not always easy to remain calm or disciplined in the wake of a sudden accident, you should do your best to avoid the following mistakes at all costs.

  1. Admitting Fault

The number one mistake you can make is to admit fault. Whether in a casual statement to a bystander, or a recorded statement to the insurance company, admitting fault is a sure-fire way to miss out on some of the compensation you may rightly deserve. Tell the truth, but don’t admit to anything you didn’t do. You can sympathize with the other victims and provide assistance, but saying things like “I’m sorry” can be misconstrued as a form of admitting fault.

  1. Failing to File a Police Report

While it’s not unheard of for two individuals involved in a minor fender bender to share information and avoid calling the police as a way of circumventing insurance, you never want to do this in a situation where there are injuries. Not only is it illegal, but it could also ruin your chances of filing a claim and/or getting a settlement.

Having a report on file will help you in your case and speed up the process of getting the resources you need. It serves as proof of the incident and will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

  1. Avoiding Being Seen By a Doctor

Nobody wants to make a trip to the emergency room, but it’s always wise to be seen by a doctor after a car accident. Some injuries will be noticeable, but there are also those that don’t show up until much later. A timely checkup will ensure you get the care you need.

  1. Hiring the First Attorney You Hear From

After a car accident, you’ll probably hear from some attorneys. Or maybe you’ll feel an urge to contact that friend of yours who has a law office downtown. While these may be great sources, don’t make a hasty decision here.

“It is important to work with a car wreck lawyer who has successfully handled numerous accident cases similar to yours and has a proven track record,” Herrman and Herrman explains. “You want a lawyer who will deal with the paperwork and insurance companies so that you can focus on your recovery.”

You’ll typically make a better decision if you take some time and do your research. The best attorneys are often those that let you take your time and make a decision without putting any pressure on you.

  1. Accepting the Insurance Company’s First Offer

You’ll hear from the insurance company pretty soon after your accident. Hear them out, but don’t make a rash decision.

As one expert points out, “An insurance adjuster is given authority to settle your auto accident claim within a certain dollar range. No one starts a car accident settlement negotiation at the middle of their range, and the insurance adjuster is no exception!”

In fact, the first offer may be as low as 10 to 20 percent of the amount they’re willing to pay out. Don’t be afraid to reject offers and negotiate (with the assistance of your lawyer).

Treat Your Situation With Care

It’s not always possible to tell how serious a car accident is until hours, days, or even weeks later. So while you may want to trivialize the experience in the immediate aftermath, it’s important that you treat your situation with tremendous care. In doing so, you’ll avoid making many of the mistakes highlighted in this article.