A motor vehicle accident is something that nobody wants. Car accidents are upsetting no matter how severe they are. If you have had the unfortunate experience of being in an accident, here are some useful steps to help you through.
Keep a Level Head
Staying calm after an accident is important. You need to have a clear mind in order to make smart choices during those upsetting moments after an accident. Keeping a level head may be a hard to do though. Most likely your body will be in fight-or-flight response. This is your body’s evolutionary reaction to a threatening or harmful event. Like a pro athlete during a high-stakes game, your endorphins and adrenaline levels will be running high. This will make you excitable, shaky, and possibly aggressive. Your pain receptors may also be blocked. This means that if you have sustained an injury, you may not feel it right away. This is one of the many reasons why you should get medical treatment immediately after the accident.
Get Medical Care Right Away
Your first concern after a car accident should be safety. Try and move your vehicle out of the traffic lanes, preferably to the side of the road and not the median. You will have more room on the side of the road to talk to other drivers and look at the property damage.
If you have endured injuries, contact emergency responders right away. Even if you feel okay, others may need help. Medical care immediately after an accident can also be crucial evidence in support of your insurance claim.
Be sure to get medical attention if you feel:
- Discomfort or pain of any kind
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Numbness in any area of your body
- Confusion, memory loss, or comprised mental abilities
Remember: waiting too long after the accident to get the medical care you need can put your health in jeopardy. What’s more, belated medical care will make it hard to connect your injuries to the accident.
Protect Yourself Against Liability
You may feel bad about the accident. For some reason, you may even feel guilty. You may want to apologize. Don’t.
Admitting guilt on any level, including saying sorry, can imply that you were at fault. This can be used against you later, and ruin your insurance claim or legal proceedings.
While at the scene, collect as much information as you can. Be sure to get the other drivers’ names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. Take a lot of photographs too. Snap the damage to your car and the surrounding areas. If the accident happened at an intersection, take shots of the traffic lights, every lane of traffic, and so forth. Be sure to take close-ups and long-shots from a variety of angles. In essence, you are documenting what happened to strengthen your case against the other party. You can’t go back and recreate the accident, so capture as much as you can at the time.
Along the same lines, jot down detailed notes about the accident while it is still clear in your mind. Getting a police report is important too. Don’t let the other party talk you out of getting one. And don’t fail to get one because you are tired of waiting around for the cops to show up. A police report can be valuable information that helps your claim against insurance companies.
Do Not Sign a Release Form
It is very likely that the other driver’s insurance company will pressure you to sign a release form. They might even entice you with money to pen your John Hancock across the signature line. Please don’t do this. This release form waives your right to pursue compensation, even if the other party was at fault.
Signing anything too soon can be especially problematic if you have delayed injury symptoms. Some common auto accident injuries – like concussion and whiplash – have symptoms that show up weeks after an accident. If an injury surfaces after you sign a release form, the insurance company does not have to pay for your medical treatment.
Track Your Medical Care
Be sure to take detailed notes and keep good records throughout your recovery. Copies of medical reports and receipts will make it easier to get reimbursed from insurance carriers. Good documentation can also bolster your case if it goes to legal proceedings.
Be sure to:
- Keep all medical receipts for medications or assistive devices like wheelchairs
- Save the names, addresses, dates and details of all medical appointments, including visits with specialists and wellness professionals
- Save correspondence, like emails and chats, with care providers
- Track travel costs related to your medical treatment
- Keep a daily log of your injuries and treatment with specifics about how you feel
- Track your financial problems, like lost wages from days off work due to the accident
Consider Legal Representation
Insurance agencies are in business to make money. They don’t want to pay out your claim. These corporate giants have incredible resources and clever tactics to avoid paying your claim.
Having an experienced attorney fighting on your behalf greatly improves your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
If you have sustained an injury from your auto accident, an auto accident attorney can be extremely valuable. The right lawyer can make the case that your injuries were a direct result of the accident. They can also maximize the amount paid to you by insurance agencies and at-fault parties. This money can help you recover and reclaim your life.
Find out how the experienced auto accident attorneys at Pierce, Skrabanek can help you. Contact us today for your free case review.