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First Steps Following A Personal Injury Auto Accident
Being involved in a personal injury car accident can be scary, but it’s important to keep calm.
Your first steps following a personal injury accident can affect the reimbursement that you get from your car insurance company if you file a claim.
Continue reading below to find out the best ways to deal with a car accident that results in bodily injury.
Seek Medical Attention
See a doctor immediately. Although you may feel fine now or think your injuries aren't very serious, symptoms such as the following can appear days after the accident:
Getting medical attention quickly isn’t just the best thing for your health; it also strengthens your personal injury claim.
If you wait several days or weeks after the accident to seek medical attention, it will be harder to prove that your injuries were the result of the car crash.
Take Detailed Notes and Photos
Take detailed notes on your injuries and medical treatment to help you get full reimbursement from the insurance company. Jot down the names and addresses of any of the following that you visit:
- Physical therapists.
- Other professionals you were referred to after the accident.
Keep receipts for medications you were prescribed or any assistive devices such as crutches that were needed.
Also keep the following records:
- A journal or daily diary about your injuries and medical care.
- Be specific about everything, and include such details as the degree of pain and any inconveniences you experience from your injuries.
- File every form of correspondence you had with medical professionals during the course of treatment for your injuries.
- This includes e-mails and notes that you record during and after telephone calls and doctor’s appointments.
- Save all of your medical bills and receipts.
- This includes prescriptions, special equipment (crutches, walkers, canes), special foods, and co-payments.
- Keep track of travel expenses for medical appointments.
To strengthen your claim, record the following:
- Information about the accident.
- Snap pictures of the accident location, making sure to include stop signs and traffic lights, if applicable.
- Photos of your car's damage.
- Don't limit it to one or two shots. Take several pictures from every angle, making sure to snap close-ups and long distance shots.
- Proof of financial losses, such as lost wages and opportunities.
- Names and contact information of witnesses.
Photos of Your Injuries
Ask a friend to take pictures of your injuries.
If you have trouble getting a settlement from the insurance company or you decide to hire a personal injury attorney, photos will be valuable evidence for your case.
What NOT to Do
Don’t Admit Fault
You may be inclined to apologize for the accident when you are at the scene or admit fault to your car insurance agent. However, doing so can seriously jeopardize your claim.
Instead of assuming the blame for an accident:
- Get a police report.
- Give a detailed description of the accident, along with photos.
Even if you believe you might have been fully or partially at fault, don’t say to the other party, your passengers, witnesses, or your car insurance company that you were to blame. Instead, provide a honest report of what happened and let the insurance companies determine the details.
Avoid Other Missteps
Even if you are entitled to reimbursement, a few mistakes can jeopardize your personal injury claim. The following tips can help you get a fair settlement for your claim:
- Don’t settle until you have completed all of your medical treatment and your injuries are as healed as they are going to get. Otherwise, you don’t know the total cost of your injuries.
- Don’t sign release forms or checks with releases on them before you’re ready to settle completely.
- Signing such forms can release your car insurance company from the responsibility of paying on additional claims.
- Don’t talk to people about the case unless you need to.
- Don’t cave in to pressure not to file a police report.
Consider a Personal Injury Attorney
If you feel you need help navigating your injury claim, you may wish to consider hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Personal injury attorneys are experienced in dealing with these claims and can help you understand your rights and get the highest amount possible for your claim. In the event that you have a dispute over your claim, an attorney can be a valuable asset if you end up in mediation or in court.