Four Steps You Need to Take After a Car Accident
The immediate aftermath of a car accident that caused injuries can overwhelm anyone, as can the following days, weeks, and months as you deal with insurance companies while trying to heal. During this time, you need to recover financially as well as physically, and protect your legal right to seek compensation for your injuries. Make sure you take the following steps to ensure a successful outcome.
1. Attend to any immediate medical needs.
Make attending to your immediate medical needs your absolute first priority immediately after any car accident. This begins by calling 911 to request that an ambulance and police officers come to the scene of the accident. Emergency medical personnel can evaluate your injuries to determine their extent and whether or not you need to be taken to the hospital right away. If you require a trip to the hospital, these emergency medical technicians have both the experience and equipment to stabilize your injuries and move you safely there. You could potentially worsen your injuries by ignoring their advice and trying to go to the hospital by yourself at a later time.
Even if you do not leave the scene of the accident in an ambulance, you still need a medical professional to evaluate your injuries right away. This can mean a trip to the emergency room or an urgent care facility. You might see your doctor in the office, but do not hesitate to go to the ER if you can’t get an appointment right away.
You might not feel serious injuries right away, and others may not reveal themselves in obvious ways. Internal bleeding, for example, can quickly become a life-threatening injury if a healthcare provider does not detect it right away with specialized tests following an accident. Failure to receive immediate medical attention can endanger your health, as well as threaten your right to receive compensation for your pain and suffering.
2. Document and record as much as you can at the scene of the accident.
As stated previously, make your health the top priority after a car accident. If you need transportation by an ambulance to a hospital right away, be sure to use it. That said, if your condition allows you to remain at the scene, make an effort to collect evidence that will help prove your case later on.
Use your smartphone to take pictures of the vehicles involved, the damage sustained, the license plate numbers, and the other driver’s license and insurance card. Make a video recording of the entire accident scene (this is especially important in a construction zone accident). If you can, collect the names and phone numbers of eyewitnesses. All of this information can greatly help the police, insurance companies, attorneys, and, if necessary, a jury to determine what exactly happened.
3. Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer.
You have the legal right to obtain compensation for injuries and losses caused by someone else’s negligence, but you can jeopardize your rights after the accident.
For instance, insurance companies can hold things you say at the scene of the accident against you later on. Insurance investigators also undergo training to find your social media platforms and hunt down anything you post that they might use as evidence that your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
In some cases, insurance companies give their investigators incentives, such as bonuses, to find any information that can cast doubt on your claim. These are just some of the tactics an insurance company uses to try to reduce the amount they will pay out to or deny your claim altogether.
A personal injury lawyer can help protect you from these insurance company tactics and provide you with a fair assessment of what your claim is really worth.
Insurance companies are not on your side. They will try various tactics to convince you that your claim is worth far less than it probably is, that you do not qualify for compensation for pain and suffering, or that it is in your best interest to settle quickly without consulting a personal injury lawyer.
Only your personal injury attorney can give you an accurate assessment of the situation and protect your legal rights.
4. Follow up on all treatment recommendations from your healthcare providers.
Insurance companies will check to see if you followed through with recommended medical treatments. An insurance company has no obligation to compensate for additional suffering you experience if it resulted from you not following a doctor’s guidance.
Fill your prescriptions. Meet with any specialists you are referred to. Participate in recommended physical therapy or chiropractic care, and continue seeking treatment until your provider agrees that you can safely discontinue care.
The medical records of your prompt attention to treatment is strong proof that your pain and suffering comes from a defendant’s negligence and not some other medical issue or event.
Sometimes insurance companies will accuse injured victims of over-treating their injuries. Over-treating occurs when a victim continues to get treatment after a healthcare provider determines that his other injuries are fully healed. Accident victims rarely go to the doctor more often than necessary, but still, insurance companies will vigorously make this accusation if the claims adjuster feels that the medical bills are too high.
Hire a lawyer who can justify the medical care you received. You should not have to fight with the insurance company about how appropriate your doctor’s recommendations were. See your doctor promptly, develop a treatment plan, follow through with the plan, and discontinue care only when it is medically appropriate to do so. Meanwhile, talk to a personal injury lawyer about seeking payment to treat your injuries.
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