Few experiences are as frightening as being injured in an automobile accident. With emotions running high, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, flustered, and consumed by the physical and emotional stress of the event. However, to protect your rights and maximize a personal injury claim, it is imperative that you know what to do if you’re in an accident. It includes remaining calm at the scene, and following appropriate protocol. The immediate steps that you take in the wake of a car accident can drastically impact the compensation you receive when you file a claim.
Car Accident Injuries
The thought of filing a personal injury lawsuit after experiencing the trauma of an accident can be daunting, and may lead you to question, “When are my injuries worth the case?” It’s easy to underestimate and dismiss the costs associated with car accident injuries. Most personal injury damages are classified as “compensatory,” indicating that they are intended to compensate the injured plaintiff for what was lost due to the accident or injury. A quick breakdown of expenses associated with car accident injuries shows that in most cases, you can’t afford not to file a suit.
Medical Expenses. The exorbitant cost of medical treatment resulting from the accident is almost always awarded as part of the case, as well as compensation for the estimated cost of medical care needed in the future because of the accident.
Income. Your wages and salary, both past and future, may be adversely affected by the accident. You may be entitled to compensation for both. In personal injury legalese, “compensation awarded in consideration for future income” addresses an accident victim’s loss of earning capacity.
Property loss. Many times, you may suffer the loss or damage of a vehicle, clothing, or other items as a result of the accident. In a personal injury suit, you’ll likely be entitled to reimbursement for repairs or compensation for the fair market value of the lost or damaged property.
Harder to quantify, but still often awarded to the plaintiff in personal injury cases, is compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the inability to enjoy hobbies, exercise, and activities of daily living.
Accident Response Strategy
Here are some other important things to know about what to do when you experience car accident injuries.
Remain at the scene and contact the police. Never leave the scene of an accident, even in the event of injury. Contact the police immediately and wait for them to arrive and evaluate the situation. Fleeing the scene of an accident will diminish your ability to file a personal injury claim and may even have legal implications. Securing a police report before leaving the scene is a critical component in settling a car accident injury case. Without it, the other driver can simply dispute the validity of your claims or deny that the event even took place.
Be mindful of what you say at the scene. Even the most seemingly benign remarks you make can potentially jeopardize your injury claim. You may feel inclined to admit fault or dismiss the seriousness of your accidents or your injuries by saying, “It’s no big deal,” or “I’m partially to blame.” Refrain from making such disclosures to witnesses, passengers, or insurance company representatives, and instead, defer to the insurance companies to determine where the fault lies.
Take photographs of property damage and injuries. An abundance of photographic evidence is a vital supplement to your personal injury claim. Be sure to take pictures from different angles and ranges to adequately capture the extent of damage to the car. Include photos of the location, traffic lights, and street signs if necessary. Get a friend to take pictures of your injuries.
Contact your insurance company immediately. Inform your insurance company that you were involved in an accident and sustained injuries. Provide a clear, factual account of the event, and do not omit or embellish details. Relay to the insurance representative that a police report has been filed.
Exchange information. Obtain the names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved in the accident. If passengers were involved, be sure to gather their contact information as well. Remain calm and cooperative to ensure that all parties are helpful with information.
Seek and document medical treatment for your car accident injuries. Although you may not feel the severity of your injuries at the time of the accident, it is common for symptoms including pain, dizziness, discomfort, and numbness to appear in the days that follow. Delaying medical treatment is not only detrimental to your health, but it also weakens your personal injury claim by making it harder for you to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident. It is also crucial that you maintain detailed records and receipts of all treatment received, medical appointments, medications, bills, and names of all providers.
Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. When anyone sustains injuries in an accident, it is important to consult an attorney. An experienced attorney can help you maximize your chances of appropriate compensation.
If you recently have been involved in a car accident that caused injuries and need a personal injury attorney, call my office to set up a free consultation.