After an accident, emotions run high. At best, the people involved are shaken up. At worst, they are critically injured.
During this chaotic time, there are many opportunities to help or hurt your chances for being compensated for your injuries. Keep the five tips below in mind to help you think clearly if you are involved in an accident.
1. Speaking to other people about the accident
Immediately after an accident, make sure you and everyone involved are safe and that medical assistance is on the way. Then, keep your conversation about the accident to a minimum with the parties involved, any witnesses, insurance company representatives, and anyone who stops by as you wait for help.
This can be difficult to do, but it is important not to say anything that implies you are responsible for the accident. Accidents occur quickly, and it’s impossible to know everything that happened inside each of the cars involved.
Be straightforward and honest when you speak to police officers or claims adjustors. State the facts without addding commentary. If you admit responsibility or apologize for what happened, you can seriously jeopardize your chances to seek compensation later. Let the police report, medical records, and other factors determine responsibility.
2. Allowing others to pressure you
After an accident, you may find yourself being pressured to do or not do certain things. The other driver may ask you not to file a police report. He could get angry and threaten you verbally or physically. If it’s safe to do so, stay in your vehicle until police arrive. A police report is an important document for your personal injury claim.
Insurance companies may also try to pressure or trick you so they can pay less for your claim or not pay at all. They may ask seemingly innocent questions or try to bully you into settling for less than you deserve. Stay on your guard, even if you are speaking with your own insurer. Do not sign any forms or accept conditional payments until you are certain your medical and vehicle repair costs are final.
A personal injury attorney can help you navigate these difficult situations. An experienced lawyer knows the tricks used to get out of paying for damages and understands how tough some claims adjusters can be. Your lawyer will keep your best interest in mind throughout the claims process.
3. Seeking medical attention to document your injuries
Have a medical professional examine your injuries as soon as possible, even if you feel fine or you think the injuries are minor. Some injuries can take weeks to fully appear, and a minor pain can become debilitating if not treated properly.
In addition to helping you heal, a medical visit documents your injuries. Waiting a few days or weeks to see a doctor makes it harder to prove that the injuries resulted from the accident.
4. Maintaining detailed records about the accident and your injuries
These important documents serve as evidence of the financial, emotional, and physical costs of your injuries.
Keep all medical records, bills, photos, and notes about the accident organized in a folder. Take pictures of your injuries and write down everything you remember about the event, such as the time of day, weather conditions, and what happened.
Keep a journal about your pain, missed work, inability to perform everyday activities, and other ways the accident has altered your life. Make note of any injuries that occurred before or since the accident.
5. Talking to your lawyer about legal issues that could affect your case
Let your lawyer know if you have a criminal background. Depending on the situation, this information may or may not affect your case, but your attorney needs to know so he can be prepared if it comes up during negotiations.
Your lawyer should also know if you are working through a bankruptcy or divorce. In a bankruptcy, your entire compensation could go to creditors, leaving you with nothing. In a divorce, your spouse may be entitled to some of the compensation. A personal injury attorney can speak with the other attorneys in these cases to find a workable solution.
The Law Office of Gregory E. Price can promptly investigate your personal injury claim and provide you with an evaluation, while ensuring that you receive proper medical treatment and that your bills are handled in a timely manner. For a free consultation, call us at (360) 828-5879, or fill out our Contact Us form. We will be happy to talk to you about the specific details of your case and answer any questions you may have.