Car accidents affect millions of people each year, and the injuries caused by these accidents can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills and lost wages. It can be hard to know how to navigate financial and legal matters in the aftermath of a car accident, especially when you are dealing with serious injuries – which is why we want to discuss the top mistakes to avoid after a car accident. Simple errors and missteps in handling your accident or dealing with insurance claims adjusters can cost you a fair settlement and keep you from recovering financially. In order to avoid mistakes like these, the best thing that you can do is hire a lawyer to represent your interests in dealing with the insurance agents. If you have specific questions based on your own experience, it is always best to consult with a personal injury attorney directly.
In some cases, it is not possible to get evidence at the scene, such as where you are seriously injured. However, in the event that you are physically able, it is important to gather evidence at the scene instead of simply relying on the police to do it. Take photos and video of damage to any vehicles involved (including yours), as well as of the scene of the accident. The scene should include relevant traffic signals, evidence of weather, tire tracks, and anything else that could be helpful in reconstructing the accident.
You should also be sure to get the insurance information for all parties involved, as well as photos of their licenses and registrations. Photos are better than taking notes since you may be scattered or distracted in the aftermath of the car accident, and more likely to make mistakes. You can also get the names of any pedestrians or bystanders or other drivers who observed the accident so that they can serve as witnesses. All of this information can help the investigation into determining who the liable party is going faster, which means that you will be able to hold the liable party accountable faster and you will be able to get your settlement as soon as possible.
You do not always need to call police to the scene of an accident, but there are a number of situations in which you should. For instance, where either vehicle has been seriously damaged, where the vehicles cannot safely be cleared from the road, where the collision has resulted in debris that could be dangerous to other drivers, and where either driver may be injured. If none of these circumstances exist, you can choose to file a police report later, but if you wait too long after the accident to make your report, you can lose the ability to receive insurance coverage.
The sooner the report is filed to the occurrence of the accident, the easier it is to gather relevant evidence and witness statements. The more time that passes between the accident and the report, the harder it becomes to get relevant evidence and information. For instance, security camera footage may be deleted at the end of each week. Additionally, witnesses’ recollections may not be as clear, or they may be more difficult to contact. For this reason, it is always advantageous to report the accident as soon as possible. If you believe that you may be injured or your car has suffered extensive damage, it is always wise to call police officers to the scene.
It can be surprisingly difficult in the aftermath of a car accident to determine whether you are injured and the extent of your injuries. Of course, in some cases, it will be immediately apparent that you are seriously injured, such as if you have suffered a broken or fractured limb or lacerations. However, there are a number of reasons why non-visible injuries may be harder to detect after a car accident.
First, your adrenaline will be high after a near-death experience. When adrenaline is high, it suppresses the body’s ability to feel pain. Until the adrenaline wears off, you may have trouble accurately assessing the amount of pain that you are actually feeling. Additionally, soft-tissue injuries tend to just feel like mild aches or pains for three to five days, until they become apparent.
Many people feel like they should not overreact by seeing a doctor if they are not even sure that they are injured. However, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. The truth is that you really cannot know the extent of your injuries right after an accident, and they may be serious. Traumatic brain injuries and organ damage as well as internal hemorrhage may not be detectable by the victim of a car accident, but they can be life-threatening if not treated. A medical assessment can ensure that you do not have any life-threatening injuries, and can begin to create a record of documentation in case it turns out that you do have injuries that become apparent later.
If you wait to get medical attention until your pain is severe, it can actually hurt your claim, because it allows the insurance agency to claim that something other than the car accident was responsible for causing the injury. For instance, if you wait five days to see a doctor and then find out that you have a sprained ankle, the insurance claims adjuster can assert that something else happened within that five-day period that caused your sprained ankle other than the car accident. Waiting to see a doctor can also work against you in that it makes it look to insurance companies like your injury was not painful enough to seek medical attention sooner, or that you did not take your injury seriously enough to see a doctor.
It can be hard to know when to contact a lawyer. It can feel very serious to reach out for legal help, and it can be difficult to determine where the threshold is for retaining legal counsel or even scheduling a consultation. However, the longer that you wait to contact a lawyer, the more you are missing out on when it comes to building and strengthening your case.
It can be completely overwhelming trying to figure out what to do and who to talk to after a car accident, and a lawyer can help you navigate the process as easily and efficiently as possible. Your lawyer will be able to represent your interests and help you step-by-step to take all actions necessary to get the settlement and support to which you are entitled. There are many factors to consider when it comes to determining the amount of damages that you are entitled to, so the best way to get an accurate understanding of the value of your claim and all the moving pieces involved is to consult with an attorney.
If you are unsure about whether you want to pursue legal action, it is still a good idea to schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Even if you are unsure about bringing a lawsuit, a lawyer can still help you by navigating the insurance process and negotiating a fair settlement with the insurance claims adjuster.
When your claim goes to negotiations or court, your damages will be highly relevant. The value of your claim will be determined based on the amount of damages that you have suffered, both economically, and physically and emotionally. If you are not keeping a careful record of these damages, they can be hard to calculate on the spot.
It is a good idea to keep a journal after an accident. In the journal each day be sure to record your current pain level, as well as to keep notes on any way in which your daily activities were affected by your injuries. For instance, you may record that your pain level that day was a 7, and because your pain was so high, you were unable to cook, clean, attend work, or hold your newborn grandchild.
In this journal you should also record any expenses that you incurred that day due to your injury. This could include copays for medical appointments, the cost of prescription drugs, having to order food or groceries because you were unable to prepare it, the amount of wages you lost, or the cost of taking a taxi to and from medical appointments. These records will help immensely when it comes time to try and determine the full amount of your damages, and it will be important to have a clear understanding of your damages before you begin considering settlement offers.
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when negotiating the aftermath of a car accident is underestimating your damages. Most people do not believe that they are underestimating the amount of damages that they are entitled to, it is just not possible to know what you do not know. For instance, people may look at their current medical bills and lost wages and assume that a settlement amount equivalent to that is fair. However, they do not realize that they are also entitled to anticipated future medical bills if they will require continuing treatment. They are also entitled to damages for pain and suffering.
Some things you also might not consider to include in your damages accounting are transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and medical procedures, physical therapy, in-home care, and lost earning potential if your injury will keep you from earning at the same level that you were previously. You should also get your vehicle professionally appraised to determine the true extent of the damage. While $2,000 might seem like a fair amount for external damage to your vehicle, you do not want to accept that amount only to learn that the transmission is permanently damaged as a result of the crash. Your lawyer will walk you through the process and ensure that you have an accurate valuation of all costs incurred as a result of the crash.
Soon after a car accident occurs, you will begin receiving calls from the liable party’s insurance company. You will talk to an insurance claims adjuster. The claims adjuster will likely be friendly and helpful, but do not make the mistake of assuming that they are there to help you like any other customer service agent. Insurance claims adjusters work for the insurance company, and the insurance company has a vested interest in paying out as little as possible on claims. This means that you and the insurance claims adjuster have opposite goals.
Victims of car accidents often do not realize that any question an insurance claims adjuster asks is not just to make pleasant conversation but to try and find a basis for denying or limiting coverage. The more you talk to an insurance claims adjuster, the more ammunition you are giving them. It is also important to understand that insurance agents contact you so soon after the accident because they know that you will not have complete information at that point and that you will not know what your claim is worth yet, since you have not even had a chance to determine the full extent of your injuries of what treatments will be required.
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you are entitled to compensation for all of the damages that you have suffered. Don’t let these top mistakes to avoid after a car accident keep you from getting the settlement that you deserve. Contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Firm of Kruger & Hodges in the City of Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio. We will fight to hold the negligent driver accountable and to make you financially whole. Schedule your personalized consultation today.