Seek Medical Treatment
Even if your injuries don’t appear right away, seek medical attention as quickly as possible. In the aftermath of a car accident, you may experience a rush of emotions and adrenaline, which could mask symptoms of serious injuries. Car accident injuries often take time to manifest themselves. After a few days, what initially seemed like a minor ache could become a much bigger problem.
Prompt medical treatment serves many purposes. First, it may shorten your recovery time by allowing you to identify your injuries quickly and treat them properly. Second, every time you see a doctor or medical provider, he or she will create records that describe your symptoms and record their diagnosis and treatment recommendations. These records serve as valuable evidence in your car accident claim.
When you meet with a doctor, give them an honest, accurate description of your accident and symptoms. The doctor should record this information in your medical records, linking the crash to your injuries. Both insurance companies and the courts rely heavily on these records when they review claims.
You also should call a car accident lawyer. Insurance companies frequently delay or deny valid injury claims. An experienced attorney can ensure that you don’t fall prey to bad faith practices.
Collect Your Evidence
If you are able to get out of the car and move around, you should gather as much information as possible. Make sure you get the name and contact information of the other driver and any witnesses. Take pictures of the scene and write an account of what happened. Call the police and make an official report of the crash.
You’ll also want to review all of the insurance policies involved in your accident. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your crash, you may have multiple claims, including:
- Liability claim against a negligent driver
- Med-pay or personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your insurance company (if you have this optional coverage)
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist claim with your insurance company
- Product liability claim if your accident was caused by a defective or dangerous vehicle or auto part
- Dram shop liability claim if a bar or restaurant knowingly overserved a drunk driver
Identifying these claims and reviewing insurance policy documents can be an intimidating process. A car accident attorney can examine your case, explain your options, and help you with the process of filing a claim for compensation.
Consult with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
If an insurance company tries to contact you right after the accident, be careful about making statements that could hurt your case later. The insurance adjuster might seem sympathetic, but his or her job is to review car accident claims and deny as many of them as possible. Without the guidance of a car accident lawyer, you could easily make mistakes that lead to a denied claim. Your lawyer can help you prepare for a recorded statement, if one should be done at that point, and ensure that your forms are completed correctly.
It’s also important that you act quickly. Car accident claims involve relatively short filing deadlines. If you miss these deadlines, you’ll lose your right to compensation – no matter how strong your claim would have been. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the sooner he or she will start investigating your claim, collecting evidence, and filing the appropriate paperwork.