As the injured survivor of a car accident, you may have significant legal rights to receive compensation. You can protect your rights and interests and enhance your chances of fair compensation while avoiding anything that may undermine them.
Here is a review of the crucial steps most car accident survivors should take to ensure they have a full and fair opportunity to hold at-fault parties and insurance companies accountable. To learn more about your rights when a crash leaves you or a loved one with an injury, call an experienced car accident lawyer today.
Two Steps You Should Take Immediately After the Accident
Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can feel chaotic and bewildering. To safeguard your rights and interests, however, undertake the following crucial steps as soon as possible:
Seek Appropriate Medical Care
Seek medical care directly after a car accident, even if you feel you’ve escaped without a scratch or your injuries seem minor. Some common car accident injuries, such as whiplash or concussion, may not display symptoms immediately but may cause you long-term damage if you don’t address them swiftly.
An early medical examination can ensure your health and safety and also generate important evidence—in the form of medical records—for your lawyer to use in pursuing a claim for compensation.
Report the Accident to the Local Police
Under state law, you usually have a legal obligation to report an accident to the local police when you suffer injuries in it. Regardless of those duties, alerting the police to the accident is the right thing to do.
It creates a written record of the known facts and the circumstances of what happened before they fade from memory or become unavailable. The police investigation will also gather evidence that you can use to pursue a claim for damages.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
The next crucial step is to follow your doctor’s orders as diligently as possible. Ensuring that you make every reasonable effort to recover, both physically and emotionally, is critical in safeguarding your health and legal rights.
If your doctor prepares a treatment plan for you, it’s important to follow it. Attend your follow-up appointments, take your medication, and stay consistent with physical therapy.
Failure to follow your treatment plan may count against you. If you don’t appear to try to recover from your injuries, it may reduce your chances of getting fair compensation.
Your doctor may advise you to refrain from certain activities that could aggravate your injuries, such as lifting heavy items or strenuous exercise. Heed this advice. Activities that exacerbate your condition put your health at risk, allowing insurance companies and defense lawyers to argue that you deserve blame for the severity of your injuries.
Notify Your Insurance Company
You may carry insurance that covers some of the costs of recovering from your car accident. Your auto insurance policy might, for example, cover damage to your vehicle, and a health insurance or long-term disability policy might pay some of your medical expenses.
You’re likely to have an obligation under the terms of these policies to notify your insurers promptly of the accident and its potential to lead to a claim.
When speaking with your insurance company, stick to the facts of the accident. Avoid offering your opinions about who was at fault or making any comments where you may appear to accept blame for what happened. Provide the truth but don’t volunteer unnecessary information.
Insurance companies want to minimize their expenses. They may use anything you say against you in an attempt to limit the amount they have to pay out in claims.
If you’re uncertain about your coverage or obligations under an insurance policy you’ve paid for, seek the advice of a knowledgeable car accident lawyer who can explain your rights and responsibilities. Lawyers know the coverage of most insurance policies and the conditions you need to meet to ensure prompt and full payment.
Save Evidence for a Lawyer To Review
After a car accident, you may find yourself inundated with paperwork, such as police reports, medical records, and repair receipts. Keep all these documents safe, and don’t throw anything away.
These records may provide critical information about the accident, your injuries, and costs associated with them, constituting essential evidence in a claim a lawyer files on your behalf.
Your attorney may also advise you to engage a forensic expert to inspect your car before repairing the damage. Your vehicle’s post-accident condition may constitute significant evidence of who is liable for your injuries.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
Avoiding certain actions and behaviors is just as important as taking the right steps after a car accident. Some actions may seem harmless or instinctual but can have adverse consequences for your case and potential compensation.
Don’t Agree to a Settlement Offer Without Legal Counsel
In the aftermath of a car accident, a liability insurance company may contact you directly with an offer to settle the potential claim you have against their policyholder. While you may appreciate their swift action, particularly during a financially challenging time, it’s advisable to avoid accepting any offer until you’ve spoken with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer.
Their settlement offer is unlikely to pay you the amount you deserve or have the right to receive. A skilled attorney can realistically assess the value of a potential damages claim against the at-fault party, negotiate on your behalf, and strive to secure a settlement that fully covers your injury-related costs.
Avoid Posting About the Accident on Social Media
While it may seem natural to share your experiences and seek support on social media, doing so after a car accident can harm your case. Insurers and legal teams can access public posts and misconstrue your words or pictures.
They may use them to support arguments questioning the severity of your injuries or shifting blame for the crash onto you, justifying a reduction or denial of your claims. To protect your rights, keep all aspects of your accident and subsequent recovery private from social media during the legal process.
Don’t Give Up on Seeking Compensation if You Blame Yourself for the Accident
Playing a role in causing an accident doesn’t automatically disqualify you from seeking compensation. You may still have a substantial claim for damages even if your actions were partially to blame for what happened.
Car accident victims frequently blame themselves unnecessarily, but their feelings of guilt aren’t always justifiable. Don’t assume that you know who or what caused your crash. Seek the advice of a skilled car accident lawyer who can objectively review the facts, advise you about your rights and options, and build a case for compensation on your behalf.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Aftermath of a Car Accident
You must speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss your specific situation, but here are the answers to some common questions car accident survivors ask about their rights and the legal process in the wake of a car accident:
A police accident report can be an important document, but it isn’t the final say on who is at fault for a crash and doesn’t count as evidence in court.
It’s just one perspective among many about how an accident occurred. If a police report contains mistakes, a skilled lawyer can gather additional evidence to correct the record and protect your rights.
The compensation you can recover after a car accident depends on the specifics of your situation and the losses you’ve incurred. Car accident survivors can typically seek payment for damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Some cases may include additional damages, for example, punitive damages to punish particularly egregious behavior by the at-fault party. The amount of compensation will usually depend on factors such as the severity of your injuries, the strength of your case, your lawyer’s skill and reputation, and the financial resources the at-fault parties have to pay your losses.
The timeline for receiving payment—assuming one materializes—can vary significantly depending on the specifics of the case, such as the claim’s complexity, the number of parties involved, their willingness to negotiate a settlement, and the volume of evidence to gather and analyze. An experienced car accident lawyer will, however, make every effort to steer your case toward a swift and favorable resolution.
Call an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
Navigating the aftermath of a car accident is a daunting task that no one wants to face. The steps you take immediately after your accident, such as seeking medical attention and securing the services of an experienced lawyer, can significantly influence the compensation you receive for your injuries and damages.
The prompt involvement of a seasoned attorney in your case can expedite the legal process and protect your rights so that you can obtain the maximum compensation as efficiently as possible. Call an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free case evaluation.