What To Do After An Accident
If you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, it is important to know what to do at the time of your injury or accident and immediately thereafter.
Remember that insurance companies and/or large commercial companies have been through accidents or injuries before. Insurance companies are trained to immediately investigate accidents and limit damages claims as best as possible. Insurance companies or large corporations that have been involved in numerous previous incidents, lawsuits or accidents are trained and skilled in collecting evidence that they feel will mitigate, lessen or reduce the damages that they have caused.
How Can You Level The Playing Field?
Unlike an insurance company, the common everyday driver who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident or other serious personal injuries oftentimes has never been through this process of post-accident investigation and/or insurance claims.
Having a trained or skilled lawyer on your side who has faced insurance companies in the past and, on numerous occasions, taken claims to court to seek reimbursement of damages on behalf of injury victims is a very important asset that an injury victim can have. Having an attorney is oftentimes the difference in equalizing or leveling the playing field when it comes to assessing damages that have been proximately caused by the negligence of another.
Every day, people hire insurance companies to protect them from losses. Insurance companies hire numerous investigators, claims adjusters, claims personnel, claims analysts, nurse case consultants, nurse case managers, expert accident reconstructionists, expert medical practitioners and experts in any relevant field to the personal injury or accident claim — in order to protect their own losses.
The accident attorneys at Strong Law Offices in Bloomington know and understand the tactics used by insurance companies to defeat the damages claim of a victim of a personal injury or accident. There are some very simple do’s and don’ts that everyday persons can do to protect themselves against an insurance carrier that is trying to reduce, mitigate or limit damages that have been proximately caused by one of its clients.
The Do List
- Exchange insurance information with others involved. Try to gather names, phone numbers and addresses for all potential witnesses. Give this information to the investigating officer as well as your personal injury lawyer and keep a copy for yourself.
- Take photos or videos of your injuries, property damage and the scene of the accident. Pictures are worth a thousand words. The burden is on you in a personal injury suit to prove all elements of your case, including damages, liability and the responsibility of the parties involved. Every bit of evidence you collect can be helpful, although at the time it may seem trivial or meaningless.
- Preserve the evidence. Keep copies of everything. Preserving evidence is the accident victim’s responsibility and a good photograph can make all the difference in your case. Remember, as time passes, evidence can disappear and witnesses’ memories can fade. It may be months or sometimes years, before your personal injury or accident claim goes to court, and trying to convey the seriousness of your injuries to a jury without photographs or videos, can oftentimes be a difficult task. Obtain names, phone numbers, and addresses for all potential witnesses. This includes witnesses to your damages. These witnesses could be friends, neighbors, ambulance drivers, physicians, nurses or other health care providers.
- Report your accident immediately to your insurance company and, where appropriate, call the police. Failure to report an accident or injury in a timely manner can cause your case/claim to be denied or delayed.
- Seek immediate medical attention. It is in your best interest to tell your doctor, nurse, chiropractor or other health care provider everything so that all injuries can be documented, diagnosed and treated properly. Be sure to provide your personal injury or accident attorney a complete list of all doctors, nurses, chiropractors, physical therapists or other health care providers whom you have treated with and who have made a diagnosis.
- Make sure to provide your medical doctors or other health care professionals a complete history of the accident. Describe to your health care providers how, when and where your accident happened. Tell your physicians what you noticed about yourself immediately following the accident. The more detailed history that a physician or other health care provider obtains from his or her patient, the more credible his or her opinions will be when it comes to expressing medical or expert opinions as to whether or not your injuries were proximately caused by the personal injury accident that you were involved in.
- Keep a journal, calendar or notes. This journal or notebook will help you recall dates and details of your complaints, physical ailments or other relevant information, which may be needed at a later point in time if a lawsuit is required to obtain fair reimbursement for your injuries and damages that you sustained as a result of the personal injury accident.
- Get estimates on any damaged property or equipment involved in the accident. Make a list of any personal items lost or damaged in the accident.
- Maintain accurate tax returns or proof of lost wages or earnings. If an accident victim suffers a loss of income, he or she may be entitled to reimbursement. Proving your lost income is oftentimes complicated. It may require the use of past tax returns or business profit/loss statements.
The Don’t List
- Don’t delay medical treatment. Delaying medical treatment tends to undermine the severity of your injury. Delaying medical treatment furthermore makes it very difficult for medical experts to give reliable opinions as to whether or not there is a cause and effect relationship between an accident and an injury.
- Don’t exaggerate or misrepresent your accident or injury or your activity level to anyone, particularly your doctor. Doctors and health care professionals are trained to observe and examine whether or not a person is misrepresenting his or her injury or personal health condition. This could affect the credibility of your damages claim.
- Don’t ignore your doctor’s advice. If your physician or other health care provider provides you with medical advice that you feel is in your best interest, it is important for you to follow your doctor’s orders.
- Don’t delay seeking legal consultation. Getting an advocate on your side to advocate for your injuries and help you prove negligence is important. Legal advice at the onset of the case will provide you with an equalizer to the insurance carriers that are defending the at-fault parties. Insurance carriers are trained from the moment they get a call or communication from the at-fault party that it may have caused damages to an accident victim.
- Don’t give written statements or recorded interviews to insurance carriers except under the advice of an attorney. One of the first things insurance adjusters do is try to obtain recorded statements from the injured claimants. Accident victims are not required to provide information or give a written or oral statement to an insurance company or investigator who represents the at-fault party despite what they may tell you. Have your lawyer or legal representative consult with you on this.
- Don’t sign documents or medical authorizations unless under the advice of legal counsel. Many times the insurance adjuster will ask you to sign a medical authorization permitting access to all of your medical records. This would provide a blanket opportunity for insurance companies to investigate each and every personal health condition that you may have, even those not related to your accident.
- Don’t lie or hide evidence or past accidents from your attorney or legal representative. Share all relevant information about your medical history, any previous accident claims and anything that might assist your lawyer in representing you to the best of his or her ability.
- Don’t post pictures or comments about your personal injury or accident on social media networks. Insurance carriers and their attorneys are quick to look at social media outlets for statements you may have made or pictures you may have posted which are inconsistent with your personal injury or accident claim.
Strong Law Offices is experienced in all of the do’s and don’ts. If you have been the victim of another’s negligence or feel you may have a legal cause of action, contact Strong Law Offices to discuss whether or not you are eligible for reimbursement for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses or other serious damages or death. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling 309-276-0022.
When You Have Been Injured, Get Strong — We Are On Your Side