A car accident is a frightening and stressful experience. After you’re in an accident, it’s easy to make mistakes. Kansas law requires you to do certain things. There are other things you should do (or should not do) to protect yourself. You can avoid five common mistakes after an accident if you follow this guidance from our Salina, Kansas personal injury attorneys.
Kansas law requires that you stop at the scene of an accident, even if you hit an unattended vehicle. You also must notify the local police immediately if anyone was injured or you hit an unattended vehicle and cannot locate the owner. In the latter situation, you also must leave a note on the car with your name, address, car registration information, and a brief explanation about what happened.
At an accident scene, you must provide your name, address, vehicle registration, and auto policy information to the other driver and occupants of the other vehicle(s). You must show them your driver’s license if requested to do so.
Under Kansas law, drivers must give “reasonable assistance” to anyone who is injured or asking for medical help. That may mean making arrangements to get medical treatment for the injured person, either by transporting them or calling emergency services.
If you are not injured: When your responsibilities at the scene are finished, you can — and should — collect evidence if you are can do so without interfering with police or other emergency personnel. Get contact information from other drivers, passengers, and any other witnesses to the accident. Take photos of the scene with your phone, if possible. Make notes about what happened during and after the accident to help you recall details later.
Do not refuse medical treatment at the accident scene, even if you don’t think that you have injuries. Some serious types of accident injuries are not immediately apparent. Symptoms may appear hours or even days after the accident. Unobvious injuries can be extremely severe and even life-threatening, including head injuries like traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions.
If you are well enough to leave the accident scene when everything is finished, go immediately to a medical professional, and get a full evaluation. Explain exactly what happened during the accident. Disclose any symptoms you have, even if you think they are not important.
If you fail to get medical treatment after an accident, and it turns out that you have injuries, proving that those injuries were caused by the accident could be difficult. That could harm your financial recovery.
After an accident, there are only a few people you should talk with about the accident and your injuries: the police, your own insurance company (most policies require that you notify them if you’re in an accident), your doctor (or a medical professional at the scene), and your lawyer. Don’t discuss your injuries or how the accident happened with people at the scene of the accident or others afterwards. Above all – do not talk to an at-fault driver’s insurance company or post on social media. You may unknowingly make statements that harm your potential claim against the at-fault driver, provide evidence of your own fault, or otherwise undermine your injury claim.
Any statements you make can be used against you if you end up making a claim for your injuries. In fact, the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster will likely try to get you to make statements that harm your claim. You should never talk to them, even if they contact you. Tell them that your attorney will be in touch with them.
Posting on social media about anything is a very bad idea for anyone with an injury claim. In fact, you should delete all your accounts. The opposing party will be mining them for evidence to use against you. For example, suppose you claim that you can’t walk without assistance because of your injuries. Then, during your recovery, you post a cute video of yourself playing soccer with your kids. Don’t think for a minute that the opposing party won’t find it. Staying off social media entirely is the best strategy to protect your claim.
Under the Kansas modified no-fault insurance system, your own insurance company pays for your injuries, up to the limits in your policy. You can only pursue a legal action against an at-fault driver for specific severe injuries. If you suffer injuries that qualify, it is crucial that you talk with an experienced personal injury attorney. You should not attempt to negotiate settlement of your claim against an at-fault driver on your own.
Another legal rule that becomes important when you have serious injuries is the Kansas rule of comparative negligence. Under the rule, if your own actions contributed even slightly to causing your injuries, your own negligence limits the amount of compensation you can recover in a claim against an at-fault driver.
The comparative negligence rule is the main reason that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to get you to make statements about what happened. You can unintentionally make a statement that they can use as evidence of your own fault, which can affect your recovery. That is also one of the primary reasons that you should not discuss the accident or your injuries with anyone except the people who need to know in order to help you.
You can learn more about comparative negligence and other car accident defenses in our blog post, 5 Legal Defenses that Can Affect Your Auto Accident Compensation in Kansas.
At the Salina, Kansas law firm Hampton & Royce, L.C., we assist clients throughout the state with all types of personal injury matters, including car and truck accidents. We help you get full compensation for your injuries. You should concentrate on making a full recovery, while you rely on your attorney to pursue your rights and protect your interests.
Contact us by phone or email to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.