In a minor fender bender, there may not be much to worry about. You’ll likely trade insurance information and accept whatever settlement the insurance company offers. However, that process becomes much more complex when it’s a more serious accident. The issue of paying for property repairs, medical treatments, and other damages, make it essential for you to know your rights and know how to respond.
Reacting on the Scene
Immediately following your accident, it’s vital that you take as much as action as you can. If you’re seriously injured, you may not be mobile and, in that case, there won’t be much you can do. If you are able to move about, check on others to determine needs for medical aid and to identify those involved in the accident. Once emergency personnel have been called, take the opportunity to collect contact information and auto insurance information from the other drivers.
This is also the time to collect evidence. In this regard, the best thing you can do is to use your phone to take photos of the scene. Be sure to get close-up pictures of damages to the vehicles and other property damages. Also, take photos of injuries for the purposes of documentation. This can help verify claims later on in the process.
Seek Medical Attention
You’re legally bound to seek medical attention if your accident results in a personal injury lawsuit. If the defense can show you didn’t seek medical attention and later claimed injuries as a result of the accident, you may be charged with compulsory negligence, which can limit what compensation you’ll be entitled to receive. Depending on the situation, the judge may throw the case out altogether.
From a medical standpoint, you should seek an evaluation from a doctor, even if you don’t feel injured at the time of the accident. It can take certain injuries awhile to manifest. For instance, brain trauma, neck injuries, and spinal cord damage can take a day or more to produce noticeable symptoms. A medical examination may spot these types of injuries sooner, allowing you to receive treatment earlier.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
As soon as possible, you should consult an attorney experienced in handling personal injury cases, such as Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., as soon as possible. It won’t be long before an insurance adjuster contacts you about the accident. He may try to get you to admit fault in the accident, or may offer you a quick settlement, which will be insufficient to pay for all of your damages. It’s wise to have already spoken with an attorney, before the insurance adjuster begins contacting you. Your attorney will handle communications with the insurance company and attempt to negotiate a fair settlement.
Keep Meticulous Records
Another part of collecting evidence is to keep all documentation, pertaining to your injuries and property damages. This includes repair estimates for your vehicle, medical bills, medical treatment records, any documentation that can establish your missed days of work, and documentation that provides evidence of any need for long-term therapy. All of this information can be used to validate your request for damages and collecting the information can make your attorney’s job easier.
Do Not Discuss Your Accident
The only person you should discuss your case with is with your lawyer and only in confidential settings. This means limiting your time on social media and not discussing facts of the case on any website. The defense will be looking for statements you make online that could be used against you. Similarly, don’t post new pictures of yourself on your social media pages. In the same way, those pictures may be used to suggest your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim. For instance, if you’re smiling in a photo, the defense might use it to convince a jury that you’re not experiencing chronic pain.
Continue Medical Treatments
It’s important that you don’t miss appointments for medical evaluations or treatments, including physical therapy sessions. Again, the defense might use this to suggest your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim. Additionally, missing treatments or therapy can cause your condition to relapse or worsen. In that case, the issue of contributory negligence again becomes relevant.
While an auto accident can be a complex and unnerving experience, knowing how to handle it can help you protect your interests. Above all, be careful what statements you make publicly, to the police, or to the insurance company. How you respond will be used against you, if you’re not careful. This is why hiring an attorney should be done, as soon as your medical condition allows. Having a legal advocate on your side can make a significant difference.