What Should You Do If Hurt In A Car Accident?
If you are hurt in a car (or truck, or motorcycle) accident, circumstances can be very scary and stressful. However, what you do in the days and weeks following the accident can potentially have a large effect on the amount of reimbursement and compensation you could receive.
- Get Proper Medical Attention
First and foremost, seek the medical attention you need. Do not put off seeing a doctor for days or weeks in hopes that the pain will eventually go away. In addition to making sure you are healthy, seeking prompt medical attention will strengthen your personal injury claim.
- Document The Accident As Much As Possible
If safe to do so, take pictures of the vehicles and surrounding scene before moving them. Be sure to take pictures of your vehicle later, from all angles, to show all damage from the accident. These pictures can be very useful if a dispute arises as to which driver is at fault or the force of the impact.
- Get The Names And Contact Information Of Any Witnesses
If any dispute arises surrounding the accident, having the testimony of a witness can be very important; however, gathering names and contact information can sometimes slip one’s mind after the stress of getting in an accident. If at all possible, get each witness’s name, address, and phone number in case they need to be contacted later.
- Provide Notice To Your Auto Insurance Company
Many auto insurance policies provide for UM (“uninsured motorist”) or UIM (“underinsured motorist”) coverage which may be available to you if the other driver does not have adequate insurance coverage. However, nearly all policies with these provisions require that you provide the carrier with timely notice of the claim. While there is no hard and fast rule about how quickly notice must be given to be “timely,” the best practice is to provide your carrier with notice as soon as practicable. Failure to provide your carrier with timely notice could result in their denial of your UM or UIM claim.
- Document Your Injuries
Although a description of your injuries may be contained in your medical records, the old adage “a picture says a thousand words” is applicable here. Take pictures of any and all visible injuries. Keep a journal or calendar of your injuries, pain, and medical care. Be very specific in all entries.
- Keep A Record Of All Expenses
In addition to medical bills and receipts (including those for prescriptions and medical equipment), be sure to keep track of any other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident and your injuries. Additionally, keep track of any time missed from work or other missed financial opportunities.
- Don’t Accept A Settlement Offer Too Quickly
If you are approached with a settlement offer from an insurance company for your personal injury claim, be tremendously hesitant to accept anything before you are finished with all medical treatment and your injuries are as healed as they are going to get. Otherwise, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate whether all your injuries have been properly accounted for.
- Consider Consulting With A Personal Injury Attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney can help properly evaluate your case to ensure you receive the full and fair compensation you rightfully deserve. The attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and can take your case to trial if necessary. Consulting with an attorney soon after an accident, as opposed to after all medical treatment is finished, can be helpful in getting the most out of your claim.
Spigle, Massey & Clay, PLC offers a free consultation for all personal injury claims. If you are unable to come to one of our offices, we will be happy to come to you.