Every year car accidents injure millions of people, often changing lives forever. When a driver’s negligence results in injuring you in a crash, it’s difficult to remain focused and in control at the time if possible. Of course you can’t help but feel like a victim. Post accident moments can leave you very angry and stressed but it’s important to understand that the words you speak and your immediate actions directly following a car accident can often influence accident-related outcomes involving your injury claim or lawsuits. What you say and do following a car accident can have a huge impact on whether you are able to receive fair and just compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered. The following is a list of things you should do if you’re injured in a car accident:
- Call 911 for assistance immediately. This is of course a common sense step. If you’re injured, you want to summon help to the scene as quickly as possible. Even if you don’t feel injured you should always call 911 to request police and medical assistance. Law enforcement can provide and document all relevant details of the crash to assist with any potential lawsuit and insurance claim.
- Watch what you say at the scene. Never admit to fault, even if you think you made a mistake or were in error. It’s not dishonest to keep quiet. The truth is you do not have enough information available to absolutely determine what the other driver did or didn’t do. Very polite people may feel compelled to apologize even if they feel they aren’t at fault for the accident. Apologies can come across as an admission that you were wrong. Witnesses, bystanders and the police will share your statements to people making decisions about your claim and in the police report.
- Seek immediate medical treatment. Once medical help arrives, make sure to get the treatment you need. This could be as simple as first aid or a brief examination. Other injuries may not be immediately obvious, such as internal bleeding or concussion, so prompt medical attention is important in order to ascertain other more serious conditions. It’s important to go to an emergency room or get your doctor to evaluate you if you’re hurting or feel you are injured following a car accident. This is crucial to properly document your injuries.
- Notify your insurance company. You should always notify your insurance company about the accident, even if it wasn’t your fault. Almost all automobile insurance policies require you to notify them when you’re in an accident and agree to cooperate with their investigation of the accident. Depending on your coverage you may be able to get assistance with medical bills and car repairs. If the other driver has little or no insurance at all you may need to file a claim for underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage.
- Document your injury. It’s important to begin documenting your injury and healing process from day one. If possible, create a journal to describe your injury. Write how you feel about your pain, suffering, family upheaval, hospital stays, surgical procedures, and rehabilitation. Write about how your pain and physical constraints affect your income, if it applies. This journal can help your attorney when settlement negotiations begin. You’ll have a complete chronology that can be used to refresh your memory about treatment and recovery and to help your attorney better understand your injuries.
- Hire an attorney. No matter how nice they sound on the phone, the insurance adjuster is only interested in settling your car accident claim for as little as possible. You shouldn’t have to settle for less than the full value of your claim. Most car and truck accident lawyers offer a free initial consultation. It’s best to take advantage of this free advice to seek advice on the best way to get the compensation you deserve.