2 Mistakes Young People Commonly Make After An Auto Accident & How To Avoid Them

Posted on: 9 February 2016

While vehicle accident rates are often alarming high during any given year, auto collisions and the injuries and deaths associated with them skyrocketed in 2015. Statistically, young people, especially teenagers, are more prone to being involved in auto accidents for a variety of reasons, including lack of experience on the road. However, not every accident that involves a young driver is their fault. Lack of driving experience also means that many young drivers have not developed natural defensive driving skills that help protect them from bad drivers on the road of all ages. This can make them more susceptible to being hit by another vehicle.

If you are in your late teens or early 20s, then you need to know what to do after you are involved in an accident, because it will likely occur at some point. Taking the right steps after the collision can help you avoid accidentally taking the blame for an accident that was not really your fault or not receiving important compensation due to an injury it caused you. Avoid these two common mistakes made by young drivers after being involved in their first auto collisions.

1. Immediately Accepting Fault for an Accident When the Police Officer Files Their Report

Every state has its own requirements about if and when a vehicle accident needs to be reported to the police. For example, any accident in Ohio, no matter how small, needs to be reported immediately, while many states require reporting only if property damage exceeds a certain dollar amount, and the drivers involved in it the accident have several days to report it. Make sure to know your state laws and memorize them or write them down to reference after an accident occurs.

If your state requires that the accident be reported immediately, then an officer may visit the accident scene right after you call, speak to you and the other party about what happened, document the situation and damage according to what they see, and possibly take some photos. This is what is considered an official report. If an official report is filed by a police officer who visited the scene of an accident, then the facts and statements that he or she documents will then carry a lot of weight in the final decision of the insurance adjuster, and later, a judge during personal injury court proceedings if they occur. This means that if an officer visits the scene of your accident, it is a very important time to set the record straight about what happened to cause the accident and the damage that occurred. While you should treat the officer in a polite manner and answer all of their questions, you should never tell the police officer that the accident was your fault, even if you think it may have been.

Why? You really never immediately know all of the facts about what contributed to the accident. For example, the other driver may have been making an illegal turn when you ran into them, which would make them at fault even though you thought that you were because you ran into them. Or, the other driver may have been speeding or under the influence of an illegal substance. If you admit fault and later realize the other driver actually caused the accident in a way that was not immediately obvious to you, then you cannot take back your statement, which was then recorded in the most important document filed detailing the accident.

Many states also don't always decide one party is at fault and the other is free and clean of any wrongdoing; instead, they divvy up who is at fault by percentages if each driver made mistakes that led to the accident occurring. However, if one driver made the only mistake that contributed to the accident occurring, they will be considered 100-percent at fault. If you live in one of these states and decide to take the blame for the accident, then this may result in the officer or insurance adjuster not looking at all contributing causes to the accident in depth and realizing that both you and the other driver played roles in it occurring.

2. Ignoring Injuries You Think Are Minor That Occur During the Accident

Simply due to the fewer years you have been alive, you likely haven't experienced as many injuries as someone who is older. People who have lived longer lives and have experienced more injuries often realize that what starts as a slight ache or pain immediately after physical trauma can turn into debilitating pain over the course of just a few days. For example, if you ever strained a muscle when playing a sport, you may have been able to finish the game and even continue your day feeling relatively no pain, but then woke up the next morning with intense pain and swelling that lasted for months.

Along with minor injuries that have delayed onset pain, there are also many more severe injuries that cause this delayed pain, including spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and nerve damage. This is why it is very important to visit the local emergency room after a vehicle accident. There,  the doctors are trained to help you determine whether that little ache in your neck is likely going to go away or is linked to a more serious injury that just hasn't caused intense pain yet. Having this injury documented by physicians immediately after your accident instead of when pain does become severe later can help you avoid the chance of the insurance company attempting to blame your injury on something that may have occurred after your accident. Just as importantly, a visit to the doctor for a diagnosis of what is causing an ache or pain after the accident will give you peace-of-mind when you then know how severe your injury really may be and that you are receiving proper medical attention for it.

While no one hopes or expects to be in an auto accident, it is important to develop a plan for what you will do (and won't do) after you are involved in one. Write your plan down now while you are thinking clearly, and keep it in your vehicle to pull out after an accident when your nerves are rattled. Keep the name and phone number of a good auto accident or personal injury attorney on this paper as well, or in your phone, so you can call their office with any additional questions you have after the accident.

For extra information and more about this topic, talk with a professional personal injury attorney.