Car accidents are often traumatizing and the aftermath can be confusing. Whether an accident scene is chaotic with many people injured and cars overturned, or whether people are merely shaken up, it can be difficult to know if you’re doing or saying the right things following a crash. The following are seven things you can do to help protect your physical and financial well-being after an auto accident.
Get medical help.
Health and physical safety should be the top priority for every car accident victim. In some cases, it will be immediately evident that you need medical attention for serious injuries, and if so, you should always seek emergency treatment by an ambulance crew or at the hospital. However, even if you do not have apparent serious injuries, it is always a good idea to be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after the crash. Some injuries do not have obvious symptoms right away, yet can affect your life in many ways if not properly treated.
Call the police.
Many people struggle with whether or not to call the police after an accident. First, most states have laws that require you to report accidents that caused injuries or a certain amount of damage. However, even in absence of such a law, it can be a good idea to speak with law enforcement officers after a crash—especially if you believe that the other party was at fault. Police can review the situation and determine whether the other driver violated any laws and may issue citations or even make arrests in the case of drunk driving. Records of any wrongdoing can help you prove liability in a later case.
Gather all possible information.
If you do not need to be transported in an ambulance and can remain at the scene of the accident, you should spend time gathering as much information as possible. This can include:
● Names and insurance information of all other drivers involved
● Names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident
● Whether there are businesses or stoplights nearby that may have cameras that could have the accident captured
● Use your phone to take photos of anything that seems relevant, such as road conditions, tire marks, damage to the cars, and more
● Make note of any pain you feel and the details that you remember from the accident
Each accident is different and will have different important factors, so if something seems important following your crash, be sure to document it.
Follow your medical treatment plan.
You would be surprised at how many people fail to completely follow the recommended treatment for their car accident injuries. It can be easy to get wrapped up in work or your busy schedule and miss physical therapy appointments or postpone a surgery that you need. However, not following your treatment plan can lead to the conclusion that your injury is not as serious as you claim or that you have not done enough to mitigate the pain and complications of your injuries. Also, the closer you follow your treatment plan, the sooner you can be pain-free and back to life as you knew it prior to the crash.
Call an attorney.
As soon as your physical injuries are diagnosed and under control, you should not delay in discussing your rights as an accident victim with an experienced car accident attorney. Some people believe that their accident is not “serious enough” to get a lawyer involved, however, if you incurred any losses at all from the crash, it is worth it to learn more about your legal rights and options. An attorney will not only identify your rights but can help you through every step of the legal process so that you do not have the added stress. Compensation can often be obtained through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit and a qualified accident lawyer can identify the best course of action in your situation.
Be careful on social media.
When something unusual happens—either good or bad—it can be tempting to jump on social media to share your experience with your 1,000 closest “friends.” However, accident victims should always be very careful with what they say or post after a crash. For example, if your claim asserts that the accident caused a serious back injury and you have to miss work for a few weeks, it is not a good idea to post pictures of you on vacation or engaging in recreational activities. Such posts may be used to challenge the severity of your injuries and the amount of damages you deserve. Even if you believe your page is private, you never know who may be able to see your posts and it is not worth the risk of affecting your case.
Do not sign anything without the assistance of your lawyer.
After an accident, you may start receiving calls from an insurance adjuster—or even the other party themselves—offering you a certain payout for your losses. Many people look at a lump sum payment and are happy to be receiving any offer at all, so they sign the settlement agreement. Signing anything without first having the offer carefully reviewed by an attorney can be a big mistake.
For example, perhaps a settlement offer will cover your medical expenses to date and repairs to your car. You sign it and the agreement states that accepting the offer will waive your right to request more compensation stemming from this accident. Once you get the payment, your doctor extends your physical therapy course and suggests you may need surgery if the physical therapy does not work. Because you agreed to the settlement early in your treatment, you may be responsible for paying out-of-pocket for any future treatments you need. Discussing any offers with a personal injury lawyer can ensure that you have considered all possible past and future losses and that you are receiving the full amount you deserve. If your lawyer believes the settlement offer is too low, they can negotiate for an amount that truly covers your expenses or can take legal action against the responsible party for you.