If you’re lucky, you will never get into a serious car accident. But the chances are good that it will happen to you sooner or later. No matter how skilled and careful of a driver you are, there are plenty of bad and dangerous motorists throughout the Columbus metro area and Northeast Ohio that could crash into you.

Still, you do not get into a car crash every day. What you do in the next few minutes, hours and days can be critical. If you make an error, you could lose your chance at fair financial recovery for your injuries later on. Here are four common mistakes that people make after a car accident:

Leave the crash scene

No matter what, fleeing the scene is not a good idea. Even if you believe the accident was minor and you feel uninjured, in Ohio, you must stay at least long enough to exchange your contact information with other parties to the crash. You should also wait for the police to arrive, and EMTs if you need medical attention.

Apologize

Some people feel the need to apologize after a car accident to avoid a confrontation with the other driver, even if they do not believe they were at fault. But anything you say to the other people involved in the crash or the police could make it very hard for you to file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit later. Even if you believe in the moment that the accident was your fault, you may not have all the facts. Be courteous, but do not accept blame.

Assume you are not injured

Immediately after the wreck, you might not feel like you are injured, but that could just be the adrenaline masking the pain. It could be hours before you notice any pain or discomfort. That is why you should not hesitate to visit your doctor after a crash. Just because EMTs did not have to rush you to the ER does not mean you did not suffer major injuries that will require thousands of dollars to treat.

Representing yourself with the insurance company

Auto insurance companies are in business to make money, not help people in trouble after a car wreck. Adjusters and company attorneys are skilled at minimizing the settlement money they pay out, no matter how clear-cut the claimant’s damages are.

A personal injury lawyer’s job is to use the evidence from your case to build a powerful case for complete recovery and work toward the best possible outcome, either through negotiation or at trial. You can save yourself a lot of time and headaches, and get a much higher dollar figure, as a result.