Your actions after an injury from an accident will determine the outcome of a personal injury claim. Don’t let procrastination cost you the settlement you deserve.
Injuries caused by any type of accident can leave you in pain and confused. It is a natural reaction to feel fear and panic as a result of the incident. Unfortunately, the decisions you make directly afterward may affect the outcome of any future personal injury claims. This is the correct procedure to follow:
Investigate the Scene of the Accident
It doesn’t matter what type of accident you are in; if you can, use your phone to take pictures at the scene. These will help to document where the cars are located and what caused the accident. Take note of any other evidence that can be helpful later, e.g., surveillance cameras, witnesses, debris from the vehicles, tire tracks, and broken guard rails.
If the accident involved a vehicle that is being towed away from the scene, take photos. All this evidence can be helpful later.
Call the Police
Whenever injuries or property damage occurs at an accident, it is crucial to call the police. Their job is to document the accident and write up a police report. The report will include if the other party broke the law and got a citation. This report and the information it contains are vital for your case.
Get Immediate Medical Attention
Before you turn your attention to anything else, get immediate medical attention at the nearest emergency room, healthcare clinic, or from a doctor. If anyone is hurt, call an ambulance to the scene. The time frame considered reasonable for seeking medical attention by insurance companies is 72 hours.
Don’t omit to mention to the doctor all the areas where you feel hurt, even if you think they are minor injuries that don’t need medical attention. Be honest and don’t exaggerate. Follow any orders given to you by the doctor and find out if you can return to work.
If further medical treatment is prescribed continue with it. If you stop, insurance companies may press on the point that you are well. If you continue having symptoms, seek further medical treatment until you are completely better.
File an Insurance Claim
Notify your auto insurer after an accident, and file a claim for the damages to your car. If you have collision coverage on your policy, they will pay out to have your vehicle fixed or to replace it, even if the accident was not your fault. Your insurance company then takes the matter up with the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Usually, the insurance company of the other driver will also contact you. They will ask you for a written or recorded statement. Don’t provide them with a statement. They may even try to get you to sign a release in exchange for a small amount of money. Don’t sign any documents or accept any cash from them. The reason: once you release the insurance, you cannot reopen your claim.
Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer
There is a statute of limitations in most states for these cases, usually leaving you a small timeframe to file a personal injury lawsuit. Look for an excellent personal injury lawyer immediately after you have received medical attention. Everyone else will have legal counsel, including the insurance company, so get the best advice available.
A personal injury claim allows you to seek compensation for:
- Damage to your property
- Your medical expenses
- Lost income
- Your pain and suffering
Your lawyer is responsible for conducting a further investigation into the accident. They make sure to consider your diagnosis and future prognosis before even considering an offer from the insurance company.
Mediation and Trial
Your lawyer will submit a demand for a settlement. This is most often met with a first offer. Your lawyer will negotiate the request to ensure you are offered the fairest compensation for you. This is known as mediation.
Once the final offer is received, you have the option of accepting it or filing a lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer is qualified to help you make this decision if you feel the settlement does not meet the pain and suffering you endured.
If you decide to go to trial, the case can sometimes take a few months to a year before the courts appear. Here a jury is called to listen to the evidence presented, and your legal team tries to prove negligence caused your injuries.
Follow these steps for the best outcome. Always be wary about discussing your injuries with others, paying attention not to give details away. Only ever discuss your case with your doctor and seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer.