Car accidents can produce some of the most serious injuries an individual can experience, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, burns, and soft tissue injuries.
If you have suffered car accident injuries, do you know the steps you should take to increase the likelihood of your injuries recovering well and your eligibility to obtain compensation for the expenses and quality-of-life impacts of your injury?
The short answer: talk to a car accident lawyer.
Read on for more information about five steps you should take if you’ve been injured in a car accident.
1. Gather the Necessary Info
In the event of a car accident, you are legally required to remain on the scene until you have properly exchanged information with all other drivers involved in the accident.
Some of the information that should be collected includes:
- The driver’s name
- The name and phone number of the driver’s insurance company
- The driver’s auto insurance policy number and expiration date, as listed on his or her insurance card
- Details about the vehicles involved, including make, model, color, and license plate number
- Photos of all four sides of all vehicles involved showing damage associated with the accident
Car accident scenes are, by nature, chaotic. Your injuries could have rendered you unconscious or otherwise unable to collect information. If you did not have the opportunity to gather this information and the other driver did not give his or her information to an occupant of your vehicle, you likely can still obtain this information from the police officer who responded to the accident. Contact the responding agency to learn the process of obtaining a copy of the police report.
2. Seek Prompt Medical Attention
It is important to have a thorough medical evaluation any time you have been involved in an accident even if you do not “feel hurt”. There are several reasons for this, including:
- Many serious injuries present with delayed symptoms, including some traumatic brain injuries or internal injuries. Having those injuries detected and treated as soon as possible can help you prevent more serious damage from occurring.
- Adrenaline and shock can mask the pain associated with your injury for up to an hour after the accident, which can trick you into believing that you are not seriously injured for a time.
- Seeking prompt medical attention creates a paper trail that can provide the evidence needed to prove your injuries if you decide to file a personal injury claim.
3. Avoid Talking About Your Accident (Even Online)
You should only talk about your accident with the police officer who responded, and your attorney. Any conversations you have about the accident with witnesses at the scene, the insurance adjuster, or even posts you make about your accident on social media can be used against you (and likely will be).
4. Don’t Settle Right Away
It is impossible to fully understand the expenses you will incur and the psychological impacts your injury will have. Though it is tempting to accept the offer of money at a particularly stressful time, remember that settlements are a one shot deal. If you fail to obtain the amount of money you need to cover the expenses and impacts you have already incurred as well as those you will likely incur in the future, you will be unable to go back at a later date and ask for more money.
5. Talk to An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident attorney can provide experience and knowledge of the legal process of pursuing compensation for your injuries as well as a deep understanding of the type of expenses and impacts you will likely face. Some of the services your injury attorney can provide include:
- Determining a value to your case
- Determining all sources of liability and insurance resources involved
- The timely filing of your court-required paperwork
- Skilled negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to garner a fair settlement offer
- The collection of evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your claim
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn more about your options after suffering car accident injuries.