In case of an accident, the second person you should call after your doctor is a lawyer.
After you have been injured in a car crash, you know you need to focus on healing. However, there are so many different things happening after a car accident, you may not know where to turn. If your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, it is important to follow a few key steps to be sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
The first thing you need to do to ensure you get a fair settlement is to seek immediate medical attention. You will want to have any injury documented by a medical professional as quickly after the accident as possible. These records will be critical to getting compensation in the future.
Be Honest with the Police
At the accident scene, you want to be as honest as possible with the police. For example, if you did not actually see the other driver with a cell phone in their hand, don’t claim that you know they were texting and driving. You also do not want to tell the police that you think you may have done something wrong. Every statement you make at the scene will be part of the police report that the insurance companies will review.
Document the Scene
If your injuries are too severe to document the scene, ask someone who is there with you to do so for you. You will want to take photos of the vehicles, the roadway, any road signs, and more in order to provide evidence of what may have happened in the accident. Depending on the severity, the police may do this as well, and you can request copies of the photo.
Gather the names of witnesses as well as their contact information. Once you are able, write a statement about what happened that you can refer to should you end up in court.
Notify Your Insurance Company
You will need to notify your own insurance company that you have been in an accident, even if you believe the other person is at fault. Until the other insurance company begins to pay for your damages, your insurance company may be required to cover your medical bills. They will work with the other insurance company to get their money back as the claim moves forward, but you need to inform them of your accident so your bills will be handled.
Make Follow-Up Appointments With Your Doctor
If you visit an emergency department, it is very likely they will tell you to make an appointment with your family doctor. Be sure to make that appointment as soon as you can. Although the emergency department record will indicate your initial injuries, it will be your family doctor who will provide the most detail about how extensive your injuries are. They will also be the one to refer you to any specialists or therapy you may need.
Do Not Provide a Statement to the Other Insurance Company
One common mistake people make after an accident is to make a statement to the other insurance company. In that statement, you may make a comment that can be used against you. A simple “I looked away for a second” could lead the insurance company to claim you were distracted driving and that led to the accident, even if the other person made a much bigger error, like crossing the center line. Although you will eventually need to provide a statement, you can wait until you have talked to an attorney or ask to have an attorney present.
Take Photos of Your Car Before it is Repaired
If your vehicle can be repaired, you want to take photos of the damage before you have the repairs performed. This will give you documentation of just how extensive the damage which may also provide details on the injuries you received.
Do Not Let an Insurance Company Pressure You to Settle
The insurance company will try to get you to settle your claim as quickly as possible, especially if they think your claim will be a significant amount of money. Do not take the first offer the insurance company makes as that is usually the lowest.
Keep Track of Any Missed Time at Work
Your injuries may be severe enough to keep you from working. If this is the case, you need to keep documentation of your missed time. Keep copies of your leave slips, ask your employer to write a letter with your missed days included, or accumulate pay stubs before and after your accident to prove your missed time.
Keep Medical Bills and Receipts Organized
Documentation will be critical to your settlement. You will want to keep a copy of:
- Bills for medical equipment
- Emergency department report
- Leave slips
- Medical bill
- Medical report
- Mileage to doctor’s visits
- Transportation costs
Continue Seeing the Doctor
It is critical that you continue seeing your doctor throughout the settlement process. It is also critical that you follow your doctor’s orders explicitly. Keep in mind that it is not unusual for insurance companies to hire private investigators. If the investigator sees you doing something your doctor has said you cannot do, it could jeopardize your settlement.
If you don’t take your medication or attend therapy as recommended, your injury could worsen, but the insurance company may not be liable for your worsening condition.
Contact an Attorney
In case of an accident, the second person you should call after your doctor is a lawyer. Hiring an attorney does not mean you plan to sue. An attorney will guide you through the process and help you get the compensation you are entitled to receive under the law.