Being involved in an auto accident is a very alarming and confusing situation, so it’s not surprising that many people feel flustered in the midst of that kind of situation. By learning the best actions to take immediately after the accident and in the weeks following the incident, you can be better prepared for such a trial. While you’ll still feel nervously excited in the situation, being armed with this knowledge can help you make the best decisions for your circumstances.
Assess the Scene
Assuming you aren’t seriously injured, you should assess the scene of the accident as much as possible. This means getting contact information from the other drivers involved in the wreck, as well as getting the names and phone numbers of witnesses to the accident. This will help your car accident lawyer, if the incident results in legal action.
Additionally, try to document the scene. Start by making notes about what you recall about the accident, while the events are still fresh in your mind. If you have a cell phone that’s equipped with a camera, you should also take pictures of the accident scene, as these may be helpful on obtaining a fair car accident settlement. Take various photos of any property damage, as well as of the scene in general.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t feel injured, you should still seek medical attention for a couple of reasons. First, there may be internal injuries that may not be present, but have not yet caused you to experience any symptoms. For instance, neck or back injuries may take time to develop, or can worsen over time. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are also common in auto accidents, but they can take days or weeks to develop. A medical exam may catch these injuries early, making treatment less invasive and more successful.
Another reason it’s wise to seek medical attention after a wreck is because failing to do so can adversely affect a car accident settlement. Seeking medical treatment shows the insurance company and the civil court that you took action to limit the scope of your injuries. Without treatment, your injuries could worsen, which would make you partially liable for the damages. This means the sum the court awards in your case will be adjusted (decreased) accordingly. In some instances, you may not receive any settlement at all.
Consult a Car Accident Attorney
Even while you’re receiving medical treatment, you may be contacted by an insurance adjuster, who is working for the other driver’s insurance company. Their goal is to settle the case as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible. For this reason, they will attempt to get you to sign off on a settlement offer, before the full extent of your injuries is known. While this is a quick way to get paid, it will likely be less than you deserve to cover all damages caused by the accident.
This is why you should wait to consult a car accident attorney, before considering any settlement. In addition to the medical bills you’re currently incurring, there are many damages for which you may be entitled to compensation. Your car accident lawyer may also try to get you money to cover the costs of damages to your car or other property and the time you have missed from work, due to receiving treatment for your injuries.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require ongoing treatment or long-term physical therapy. If the accident caused a permanent disability, you may even be eligible to receive damages to cover the income that you’re no longer capable of earning. In any case, your attorney will likely also seek money to compensate you for pain and suffering.
After an accident, money will likely be a concern, but that’s no reason to try to handle the complexities of a personal injury case by yourself. An initial consultation with an experienced attorney is free and will give you a good assessment of your case. The attorney can’t guarantee a settlement, but he can tell you what your best options are, based on his experience and the facts of your case. If you choose to hire the attorney, he will work on a contingency, which means you won’t have to pay his fees up front. Instead, the attorney will deduct his fee as a percentage of the settlement. This makes it easier for the client, who is likely already struggling with finances, due to the burdens caused by the accident.
By following these steps after an auto accident, you can better protect yourself. Ensuring your wellbeing in these circumstances means taking care of your financial situation, as well as looking after your health. By enlisting the help of both a professional caregiver and legal advocate, you can trust that interests are being protected.