3 huge mistakes people make after 'minor' motor vehicle accidents

There are so many things that can go wrong when you're behind the wheel of a car -- it's almost impossible to list all the ways that you can end up in a car accident.

However, there are a limited number of things that you can do right once an accident does happen.

If there's any possibility that you're injured and that this car accident may evolve into a lawsuit someday, this is what you should keep in mind:

1. Don't be nice and let the other driver leave.

Sure, the poor guy was in a hurry, but he gave you his insurance agent's name and number and the accident wasn't all that bad, right?

Wrong. A month later, you're still suffering from neck pain and the number he gave you turned out to be the number to a bowling alley, not his insurance agent. Once a driver is in the wind, you're stuck covering all your own expenses unless he or she can be stalked down.

2. Don't take the money the other guy offers.

It was just a fender-bender in a parking lot -- so what's the potential harm of accepting a check for what seems like twice what it will take to fix a few body scratches?

The potential harm is that you have no idea how badly your car is really damaged. Half your car may be fiberglass or plastic and full of fragile sensors that won't appreciate a bang-up -- and they can be expensive to fix.

3. Don't settle your claim for lower than it is worth.

This happens to drivers who don't have attorneys representing them all the time -- mostly because they have no idea just how much their claim is really worth.

There are all sorts of variables that go into determining the value of your claim, including how clearly at fault the other driver was to things like whether you ended up having invasive surgery to repair the damage done in the accident. Pain and suffering is a complicated issue that even attorneys often have to struggle to settle fairly.

Don't make these three mistakes after your motor vehicle accident. Instead, follow the expected procedure after an accident and file a police report, have the officer facilitate the exchange of information and consider the advice of a personal injury attorney to help you through the rest of the process.

Source: CheatSheet, "The Most Expensive Mistakes People Make After a Car Accident," Eric Schaal, Oct. 22, 2017

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