People respond to traumatic events in a variety of ways. For every person who can compartmentalize and handle decision-making in a logical way, there are dozens of others who go into survival mode. When your adrenaline is pumping, it can be difficult to make smart choices. Even after a traumatic car accident, victims can feel paralyzed by their options. Unsurprisingly, this leads to errors in the car accident settlement process.

The days and weeks following a crash can be overwhelming for even the most cool-headed of people. If you’re hoping to avoid many of these common post-accident mistakes, let us be your guide.

Skipping a Medical Exam

When you’re involved in a crash, it’s tempting to do anything in your power to put it behind you. After all, accidents can be incredibly stressful. If you’re not obviously injured in the immediate aftermath of a collision, you may consider skipping out on a medical exam. If you’ve waved off paramedics and avoided seeing your primary care physician for an exam, you could be making a big mistake.

The human body responds to trauma in curious ways. Many accident victims don’t realize they have suffered an injury until hours after they’ve left the scene of the crash. In some cases, it may take weeks for the body to show signs of common accident injuries like whiplash. Fail to get medical attention right away and you could have difficulty connecting your injury to your accident.

For this reason, it’s important to get checked out after a crash even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt. The better you document your injuries, prognosis and treatment, the more likely it is that you’ll receive compensation for your care. Of course, early examinations can also help mitigate the impact the injury has on your overall health, too.

Forgetting to Collect Evidence

In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to remember the steps necessary to responsibly handle a collision. Failure to collect vital evidence, however, can seriously limit the damages you may be entitled to collect. Of course, medical attention should take priority over any evidence you might want to collect. After you’ve been cleared by the paramedics, though, it’s important to take action.

In addition to the contact and insurance information of the other driver involved, be sure to collect details from police about their official report. Also, snap a few photos of the damage, your injuries and the intersection where the incident occurred. If witnesses observed the crash, write down their names and contact information, too. By gathering initial evidence for your claim, you give yourself a head start into your lawyer’s investigation into the wreck.

Trusting the Insurance Company

It’s tempting to take the insurance company’s word for it when they say they’ll take care of everything. After all, you pay monthly premiums for this exact situation, right? While it’s certainly easy to sit back and trust that the insurance company has your best interests at heart, it’s a mistake to do so. Insurers work to turn a profit first and foremost. They’ll do everything they can to get out of paying accident victims what they’re owed.

While it’s important to be cordial and helpful when working with a claims adjuster, it’s also important to be your own best advocate. Talk to a car accident lawyer about what your claim is worth, and don’t be afraid to reject lowball offers from the insurance company. Even if they try to make their offer out to be a significant chunk of change, it’s worth doing your research to understand what you’re really getting.

Settling Quickly

In many cases, accident victims are less concerned about how much their settlement is worth and more focused on when they’ll see the cash. Car wrecks can be incredibly expensive, after all. You may be facing expensive repair and hospital bills, questioning how you’ll ever be able to afford the unexpected upfront costs associated with the wreck. It’s difficult to resist taking the first settlement offered by the insurance company.

An insurance company will rarely offer their best settlement up front. Even if you’re in a tough financial spot, focus on the big picture of negotiation. If you’re serious about getting a fair offer, patience is key. Take time to convincingly build your case, and you’re more likely to see a settlement that’s fair.

No matter the circumstances surrounding your accident, it’s worth talking to an attorney about your legal options. It can be difficult for crash victims to know the value of their case, which is why we offer a free car accident settlement calculator on our website. Whether you opt to represent yourself or hire a lawyer, the information and resources available from Lawsuit Info Center can prepare you for a battle with the insurance company.