If you’re the victim of a car accident, you need to take immediate steps to make sure you can be compensated for any physical injuries.
Even if you think you haven’t been injured, take these steps. Serious injuries can show up days or even weeks later. If you can’t act immediately, call a friend or family member to take these steps for you or ask for help from someone at the scene.
Immediately report the accident. Let the 911 dispatcher know if anyone has been hurt.
When the police arrive, be completely honest and cooperative. Remember that what you tell the police about your injuries will be recorded and can be used as evidence when you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit. If you are hurt, get this information into the police report. Do not discuss the accident or “fault” for the accident with anyone other than the police.
Record the Scene
Use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident scene from all angles. Take pictures of the inside of the vehicle you were in. Photograph your injuries.
Get the contact information, insurance, license plate and drivers’ license information of anyone else involved in the accident. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses. Make note of weather conditions, construction activity or any other contributing factors.
Record your version of exactly what happened, in the order it happened. If you are not able, ask someone else to do these things.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you think that your injuries are not serious, immediately seek medical attention. Closed-head injuries, for example, rarely show up at once.
Do this because EMT, emergency room and doctor’s records will be required by insurance companies and needed in lawsuits. It is important to be completely honest. Disclose any previous injuries that might be seen as contributing to your current injuries. Be sure to follow up on any discharge advice you are given. Failure to do so can jeopardize your case. Save all receipts and bills.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Often, insurers have notification deadlines. If you fail to meet these deadlines, you might not be compensated. Cooperate with the adjuster.
You may be compensated for your medical expenses, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, loss of earning capacity and loss of consortium. An insurance carrier will first look to the types and amounts of damages suffered, and then to fault or percentage of fault.
Don’t Sign Anything Yet
In the hours, days and weeks following an auto accident, insurance companies – both your own and others – often try to “settle” for a specific amount of money if you agree to give up your rights to make a claim or sue in the future. The money can be tempting, but it is much better to wait and see what the actual extent and cost of your injuries will be.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer
The laws on personal injuries caused by auto accidents can be complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.