Immediately after a car accident often gets very busy very quickly. You may quickly report the accident to the local police department and, once help arrives, head to the hospital. There, life can quickly turn into a whirlwind as you have your injuries diagnosed and receive the initial treatment you need. In many cases, you may end up with a long list of future appointments and a long stay in the hospital.
Then, you start thinking about the possibility that you may have the right to file an injury claim. You may know that you have the right to file a claim based on the losses you sustained and the cause of the accident. Where do you go next? By working with an experienced car accident attorney, you can get the help you need to move through the claim process because you don't want to get the lightning in the box.
1. Start Documenting Your Medical Costs Immediately.
Tracking your medical bills can make it much easier to establish how much compensation you expect for your medical costs after your accident. In many cases, medical costs can prove highly complex after an accident.
You may find it very difficult to calculate the actual value of your medical losses if you try to estimate based on the bills as they come in, particularly since you may have co-pays and deductibles that you pay at the time of service. Start a folder or file where you document all of your medical bills. With that documentation, you will have a more accurate record of what you have spent on medical care.
Make sure to include all medical costs associated with your accident.
That may include many costs you may not think of right after the accident: not just emergency room care but also the other procedures you may face as you deal with your accident and the corresponding recovery.
- Physical therapy expenses
- Durable medical equipment
- In-home care, including skilled nursing care
- Follow-up visits with your care provider
In addition, make a note of the medical bills you receive for various procedures. In some cases, you may receive more than one bill for the same procedure: for example, you may get one bill from the hospital where you had surgery and another from the surgeon who performed the procedure.
2. Get a Copy of the Police Report and Review It for Accuracy.
After a car accident involving injury, you should always report the accident to the local police and wait for them to arrive. The police will put together a report of the accident.
Get a copy of the crash report as soon after the accident as you can. Take the time to review that accident report and ensure that it accurately reflects what led to your accident. In some cases, for example, you may find that the police officer inaccurately lists the accident’s date, time, or even location.
If the police report does contain inaccurate information, make sure you notify your lawyer about those inaccuracies. You may need to contact the police department that issued the report and ask for a review of the accident to ensure that you have a police report that accurately reflects the accident.
3. Avoid Talking to the Insurance Company Yourself.
Sometimes, you may rush to take care of the aftermath of the car accident as soon as possible. You may, for example, want to make sure that you get in touch with the insurance company and start the ball rolling on your claim. The insurance company may even contact you soon after the accident before you have a chance to get your documents together and talk to an attorney.
Do not deal with the insurance company yourself.
After an accident involving substantial injuries and property damage, the insurance company may convince you to accept a lower settlement offer than you deserve. In many cases, that may include issuing an early settlement offer or even pressuring you to accept at least partial liability for the accident. However, accepting either could leave you without the compensation you deserve for your injuries or the funds you need as you move toward your recovery.
Instead, let the insurance agent know you will get back in touch as soon as possible. If you carry MedPay insurance, optional insurance coverage that can help cover the cost of treatment for your injuries, you may need to let the insurance company know that you did suffer injuries in a car accident and that you intend to use that coverage. Otherwise, wait for your lawyer to get in touch.
4. Get in Contact With a Lawyer as Soon as You Can.
After a serious car accident, you may need to have a lawyer on your side as early as possible. The longer you wait to get in touch with a lawyer, the more difficult it may prove to establish the full compensation you deserve.
A Lawyer Can Help Make Sure That You Understand Your Rights.
Many people do not realize how much compensation they may have the right to claim after a car accident.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may have the right to claim compensation for:
- Medical bills. If you carry MedPay insurance, you can claim compensation for expenses not covered by your MedPay coverage.
- Lost income. You may have the right to claim compensation for any income you miss out on due to your car accident.
- Pain and suffering. The compensation you can claim after a car accident does not necessarily just have to reflect your financial losses. It can also include the non-financial damages you may have sustained, including your lost independence, lost ability to engage in hobbies and other activities or even changed relationships with loved ones.
A lawyer can also help walk you through how much compensation you deserve based on the terms of the insurance policy that covers the liable party and the party or parties that bear liability for the accident.
A Lawyer Can Help Gather the Evidence You Need to Establish the Cause of Your Accident.
Establishing liability for a car accident can prove harder than you initially thought. Sometimes, the liable driver will own up to their error, admit that they caused the accident, and accept liability. In other cases, however, you may find yourself fighting to prove that the other driver caused the accident and that, as a result, you deserve compensation.
The other driver might claim that you caused the accident or try to place at least partial liability on your shoulders. Accepting liability for the accident could prevent you from getting reasonable compensation for those damages.
A lawyer can help gather the evidence you need to establish that the other driver caused your accident.
A lawyer may:
- Collect statements from drivers involved in the accident and passengers in those vehicles.
- Talk to any witnesses that saw the accident.
- Revisit the accident scene to better understand any geographic features that may have contributed to the incident.
- Go over any photos or video footage of the accident.
In addition, a lawyer may bring in experts who can help recreate the accident based on the damage to the two vehicles, the place where the accident occurred, and any other information you may have about the accident. Next, a lawyer can put all that information together in a comprehensive claim that displays liability for the incident.
A Lawyer Can Deal With the Insurance Company for You.
In many cases, dealing with the insurance company can become one of the most stressful parts of your accident claim. The insurance company may throw a number of roadblocks in your way as you try to get compensation for your injuries. The insurance company might, for example, try to get in touch soon after the accident with a low settlement offer.
In many cases, the insurance company will put a lot of pressure on you to accept that offer, including trying to convince you that you do not have the right to additional compensation. If you accept that offer, you cannot go back later and get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
The insurance company might also try to push you to accept at least partial liability for the accident. If you do accept liability, however, you could end up without the full compensation you deserve for your car accident injuries.
A Lawyer Can Detail Your Rights and Make Sure That You Understand Them.
Sometimes, after a car accident with injuries, you may struggle to figure out your rights and how to protect them. How much compensation do you deserve for your car accident injuries, and how can you increase the odds of getting it?
A lawyer can detail every area in which you deserve compensation, including reviewing your insurance policy and the other driver’s policy to ensure that you fully understand all the areas you should consider. That may mean looking at any MedPay insurance you may carry, checking your underinsured motorist coverage, and evaluating the liable driver’s insurance policy directly.
5. Follow your care providers’ instructions carefully.
After your car accident, you may work with several medical care providers dedicated to helping you recover from your injuries. Those care providers will work with you to create a treatment plan that will help maximize your recovery and minimize the risk that you will suffer further injuries. Your care providers may issue specific instructions about many areas of your recovery.
Appointments and Procedures
Your care providers may lay out the procedures that will give you the best chance of making a full recovery after your accident. Do not miss follow-up appointments or put off procedures unnecessarily.
Activities to Avoid
Your care provider often tells you that you must avoid some activities during your recovery. For example, if you have a head injury, your care provider may recommend that you take any steps possible to avoid further head trauma. Your doctor may also recommend that you stay out of work or decrease stress until you move forward with your recovery. Failure to follow those treatment instructions could make your injuries worse.
Therapy and Exercises
Attending therapy sessions, including both physical and occupational therapy, can help increase your strength, mobility, and independence. Avoiding those sessions may slow your recovery.
Failure to do your part as you recover from your injuries could cause the insurance company to claim that you have created your own limitations. The insurance company might then refuse to accept liability for some or all of your challenges, including any additional procedures needed to aid in your recovery.
6. Document the Struggles That Go Along With Your Recovery.
As you recover from the devastating injuries you suffered in your car accident, you may face many struggles. Frequently, car accident injuries mean considerable struggles and, in many cases, permanent changes or challenges in many areas of your life.
You may have the right to claim compensation for the suffering and the financial losses that accompany the accident. However, it can prove difficult to establish what suffering you may have faced exactly. Sometimes, you may struggle to remember when you faced certain issues or losses or have difficulty describing the anguish you had to deal with in the early days of your recovery.
To help make it easier to lay out those struggles, keep a journal or recording that details your recovery, the challenges you may have faced along the way, and the issues you might have dealt with. That journal can make it easier to recall specific dates and struggles, which may make it easier for you to put together an injury claim.
If you have questions about your next steps after a car accident, a lawyer can help. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more.