Someone who has been involved in an automobile crash and injured due to the fault of another should take some important steps that will benefit him or her in a case that may arise from the vehicle crash. Here are the steps that you should take:
Steps to Take At the Scene of the Crash
After an automobile collision, you should first determine if anybody is hurt and needs immediate medical attention. Once that has been determined, you are required to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. You should write down your insurance contact information and your name, address, and phone number for the other driver. In return, you should request the same information from the other driver. If the other driver refuses to provide you with their information, you should immediately call the police to either come out to the scene or to inform the other driver on the phone that the driver needs to give you the information.
As soon as you have exchanged information you should take pictures of any damage to both the other party’s car and of your vehicle. Be sure to take a photo of the license plate of the other vehicle as a safety measure in case you need to trace the identity of the other driver or the owner of the other vehicle.
It is important that you not talk with the other driver as to the details of what happened and what caused the crash. Anything that you said might be noted by the other party and later used against you. If the other driver or passengers say something to you in which they admit fault be sure to make note of the comments and write yourself a note when you are able to do so.
If there are any witnesses that have approached you be sure to get contact information from that witness. If the police arrive, be sure to point out the witnesses to the police so that the police include a statement from the witness in the police report. Sometimes it can be difficult later to make contact with the witnesses, so if the police can record the witness’ statement from the beginning it is for the best.
If the crash is anything but a minor impact fender-bender or if you are or your passengers have suffered injury, you should call the local police to come out to the scene to investigate and write a report. If the crash only involves property damage you can safely resolve the situation by getting the other driver’s insurance information. Should the police be called, the police report and the officer’s opinion as to who was at fault will later prove to be very important evidence in your case. The insurance companies will rely heavily on the officer’s report to make a determination as to who was at fault in the collision. If an officer does come out to the scene, be sure to tell the officer about any injury that you or your passengers have suffered.
Contact With the Insurance Companies
As soon as you are able you should contact your insurance company to make a report. Be sure to give your insurance company a complete statement emphasizing any injuries that you may have suffered. What you say to your insurance company is confidential and would be considered in furtherance of a possible court case so the statement will not be provided to the other party.
On the other hand, you should not speak with the other party’s insurance company under any circumstances. The other party’s insurance company may call you and make an effort to take a recorded statement from you and if they can they will use the statement against you at a later time in an effort to prove that you have contradicted yourself. If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance company you should refuse to give them a statement and instead refer the representative to your insurance company or your attorney.
Get the Proper Medical Treatment
If you are feeling any soreness at all, it is best to get a check-up with your doctor. Should you not have a doctor you should contact an attorney for a possible referral to a physician. When you do see medical personnel be sure to inform them about every single part of your body that is hurting or that you feel might be injured. As your case progresses, what the doctors’ write in their reports is extremely important to your case and the credibility that your claims are given. If the injuries are not noted in a doctor’s report until some months after the collision, the other side will look upon it with some doubt as to whether the stated injury was caused by this collision.
It is very important that you get all the treatment that you need for your injuries. Both from a personal level and as to the value of your case, your medical treatment is important. You must have medical proof if you are later going to request compensation for your injuries. If you are hurting but only go to the doctor once or twice, your case will not be valued very high. Therefore, it is important that you get all treatment that you need. If you do not have medical insurance you should consult an attorney in regards to a doctor that will treat you on a lien (a promise to repay the medical practitioner from any settlement you might get from your case.) Also, you may have med-pay insurance on your insurance policy that will pay for your doctor’s bills up to the limit of the coverage. Again, when you see the doctor be sure that the doctor documents all your injuries. Many times someone may have suffered an injury, but the medical records don’t document the injuries until sometime after the crash, and the insurer will claim that the injury was suffered from a different event.
Document Your Injuries and Your Medical Treatment
It is very important that you keep a diary of your medical condition, your medical visits and your expenses. Make entries every few days regarding how you are feeling and the extent of your pain including which body parts hurt, and the extent of your pain. Record what activities you have had to give up and how you felt about giving up those activities. Document how your injuries are affecting your family.
Also, keep a diary of any expenses. You may have co-pays for your medical visits. Keep receipts of those co-pays. If you missed any work, including time for medical appointments, mark on a calendar or a spread-sheet the missed hours of work. If you had to hire help around the house or to give you rides, make a recording of those expenses. If you had to drive to your medical appointments record your mileage. Record what household chores/responsibilities you have been unable to perform and how much time your family or friends had to expend to performing these duties for you – cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, etc. You may later make a claim for your loss of household activities.
Don’t Go It Alone – Seek Legal Representation
The insurance companies will not seek to be fair with you. The goal of the insurance companies is to pay you as little as possible. The adjuster might be nice with you, but remember that the adjuster’s mission is to save money for the company. In particular, don’t sign an authorization for the other party’s insurance company to obtain your medical records. Again, you don’t want to give the other insurance company access to your records so that they can search for some minor inconsistency in the records. Also, the insurance company may want to obtain your old medical records so that they can claim that your injuries were pre-existing.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to approach the other party’s insurance company to get you maximum value for your case. The attorney will know when it is best to settle your case before filing a lawsuit, or when it is better to put some pressure on the insurance company by filing suit. A good personal injury attorney will know how to value your case. The attorney may hire an investigator at an early stage so that all important evidence is preserved. If needed, the attorney can refer you to physicians that will provide you with proper medical treatment.
If the insurance company will not give you proper compensation for your losses a personal injury attorney will be ready to fight your case all the way including taking the case to a trial. Often the insurance companies will only offer full value to your case when they see that your attorney is willing to fight for you including going to trial. Also, a personal attorney will hire the investigators and other expert witnesses necessary to provide conclusions on various aspects of your case. These expert conclusions can be used to bolster the legitimacy of your case and demonstrate to the other side that you have the evidence to win at trial. Often, it is only when the other side sees that they will lose the case if it goes to trial, that they will offer fair compensation.
Many personal injury attorneys will bear all the upfront costs and expenses of your case and will only take their pay out of any settlement or trial verdict that they get for you. Foos Gavin law firm pays all the costs and expenses upfront. We do not charge any advance attorneys’ fees. We only get paid once we get a settlement or a verdict for you.
Why Hire Our Firm