Evaluating Personal Injury In Auto Accidents
If you've been injured in a car accident, the things you do and the records you keep will play a big role in any insurance settlements for personal injury.
There are steps you can take to help the insurance company make decisions and ensure that you get all the care necessary to recover from your injuries.
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Treat Every Car Accident Seriously
If you're involved in a car accident, no matter how minor, make sure that you call the police. Also, consider filing an accident report with your local DMV (even if you are not required by law).
Car insurance companies rely heavily on police reports and DMV accident reports to determine the facts in the accident. Having more documentation goes a long way in helping you settle your personal injury claim.
Also, if you decide to hire a personal injury attorney, he will need this documentation to support your case.
See a Doctor as Soon as Possible
If possible, see a doctor immediately after the accident. If EMTs or other medical first responders are called to the scene, allow them to evaluate you and follow their advice.
Even if you think you are fine, you should call your doctor to discuss the accident and get medical advice.
In many cases, you may not feel the effects of an injury for hours or days after the accident. If you haven't called a doctor already, make an appointment as soon as you suspect an injury.
Tell the Doctor About the Accident
Establishing a connection between the car accident and your injury is vital to settling a personal injury claim. When you check in at the emergency room or to see your doctor, let her know you were in an accident and that you think your injuries are related.
Keep a Medical Diary
Many personal injury attorneys recommend that you keep a medical diary to document how your injury affects your life, as well as to help you track the care you've received.
Your medical diary can help the insurance company determine the extent of your injuries, and can be used as evidence to help determine a settlement for expenses plus pain and suffering in court.
Your medical diary should include:
- Dates, times and outcomes of all medical appointments and consultations.
- Details explaining how your injuries have changed your daily life. For example:
- Do you have more difficulty dressing, showering, or taking care of yourself?
- Are you unable to work, or have you had to make changes to the way you work because of the injury?
- Have you missed any professional opportunities, such as interviews, because of your injury?
- Are there things you are no longer able to do because of the injury?
- Describe your pain and other symptoms as precisely as possible.
- Note any and all medications prescribed for you.
As you write your diary, keep in mind that it may be used as evidence for or against you in court. As much as possible, keep your tone clinical unless describing emotional pain and suffering.
Bring Your Diary to Medical Appointments
Your diary can also remind you of symptoms and things you want to share with your doctor.
In addition to helping your doctor with your treatment, this also enters the notes you make into your medical history, which will hold more weight with the insurance company or in court.
Comply with All State Laws
In some states, you may be required to file a personal injury report with the DMV.
In Wisconsin, for example, if you're involved in an accident where one or more of the drivers is uninsured, you're required to file a Personal Injury Evaluation form with the DMV.
Document All Expenses
If you incur any out-of-pocket expenses in pursuing diagnosis or medical treatment, keep receipts and documentation.
Those expenses may include:
- Consultant fees.
- Medical fees.
- Time/wages lost from work to keep appointments.
Follow All Medical Advice
Obviously, it's in your best interest to follow medical advice to help your recovery, but it's also important in protecting your claim for any personal injuries.
In some states, your reimbursement or award may be reduced if you refuse to follow advice given to you by your doctor. That includes following up with recommended consultations, including physical therapy or other medical professionals.