Knowing what to do after a car accident in minutes, hours, and days after the accident is key to your physical and financial recovery. By taking certain steps, you protect both your health and possible personal injury case. The first step involves seeking medical attention. Doing so promotes your recovery period and generates information to support your claim.
While you continue your physical recovery, you should consider enlisting a car accident law firm to manage your insurance claim or lawsuit. You should not have to pay for your injuries, treatment, repairs, and other costs for an accident you didn’t cause. An Augusta car accident lawyer can pursue a fair payout while you focus on rehabilitation and return to your previous activities.
Focus on Your Safety, Health, and Well-Being
Safety, well-being, and getting medical care must be your first thought after a crash. So, you should seek medical care as soon as possible, whether that involves calling 911 at the accident scene or visiting a family physician. Even if you don’t initially feel injured, adrenaline can mask certain symptoms. Some conditions, such as whiplash, can take days to manifest signs.
At the local hospital, trauma center, or doctor’s office, professionals can stabilize your injuries and prepare a care plan. You should follow through with all treatments and therapy to get the best outcome. This is also important for recovering fair compensation when you file an insurance claim or lawsuit later.
What Does Following a Treatment Plan Entail?
Your doctor can suggest a treatment plan that seeks to remedy your condition.
This plan could include:
- Attending physical therapy
- Seeking psychological counseling
- Undergoing surgery or another corrective procedure
- Taking certain medications
- Limiting your physical movement
As noted, it’s vital that you follow your treatment plan. You don’t want the insurer to contest that you made your condition worse. You also want to do everything possible to reach maximum medical improvement. If you have concerns about affording healthcare, know that you could recoup those losses via an injury claim or lawsuit.
What Injuries Require Me to Seek Medical Attention?
There is no such thing as a minor car accident injury. Still, you may wonder whether you should seek medical care.
Consult a healthcare team as soon as possible if:
- You feel disoriented after the collision.
- You have significant blood loss.
- You have lacerations that may require stitches.
- You have pain that prevents you from living your day-to-day life.
- You have a pre-existing health condition that the collision could have worsened.
You should never gamble with your health—even if you’ve never suffered a serious injury before. Visiting a healthcare provider could prove critical to your future.
Building a Case at the Accident Scene
If you have only minor injuries or have someone else on the scene who can help, take the time to document what happened. Ensuring your safety is still vital during this time. Be aware of moving traffic around you and other injury risks. Your health is much more important than gathering evidence to support your insurance claim.
Take pictures and videos of the scene if you can. Include all vehicles from all angles, including shots of the whole scene and close-ups of each vehicle from all sides. Take pictures of the other driver’s license and insurance card, if possible. Also, get the contact information of any eyewitnesses on the scene. Any of this could prove invaluable during your civil case later.
Once the police arrive, provide them with the information they need. However, do not admit fault, apologize, or say more than you must. Their report will detail what happened and could be key evidence in proving your case.
What Happens If My Injuries Prevented Me From Documenting the Accident Scene?
Gathering evidence at the scene is important because this information won’t last forever. Tow trucks remove damaged vehicles. Traffic cameras automatically delete videos after certain periods. Still, your injuries may have prevented you from documenting the accident scene—and that’s okay. A lawyer can investigate your collision and gather all necessary information.
- Interview eyewitnesses, such as paramedics and bystanders
- Request a copy of the accident report
- Consult with accident reconstruction experts and healthcare professionals
- Document your damages
- Evaluate the severity of your condition
With the information your lawyer finds, they aim to prove that because another party’s negligence caused your accident, you deserve damages.
Understand How Insurance Companies Treat Injured Claimants
You could have the right to hold the at-fault driver legally responsible for your injuries and related losses. Your losses comprise both economic and non-economic damages. However, it is important to understand how insurance companies work. The following information could influence the decisions you take after your collision.
Claims adjusters are not on your side. They do not want to pay out any more than necessary. Their job is to protect their company’s bottom line, not to provide a fair payout for those hurt by their policyholders.
Some of the tactics they use to undervalue, undermine, and deny claims include:
- Offering a quick settlement before you understand your damages
- Refusing to cover some expenses or losses
- Blaming you for some or all of your damages
- Arguing over your case’s facts
- Telling you an offer is “final”
When your attorney prepares your claim, they gather documentation of your expenses and losses. This allows them to put a fair settlement range on the case. This information is imperative when negotiating a fair settlement.
It’s also why you should reach maximum medical recovery or have evidence of your likely prognosis from experts before your attorney begins negotiations. Otherwise, you could settle for much less than you need to cover your expenses.
Document Your Injury-Related Expenses
You reasonably want to recover compensation for each of your injury-related losses. You can pursue fair financial recovery by keeping all receipts, invoices, and billing statements related to your damages. You could also keep a journal documenting your post-accident day-to-day life. This information could help your lawyer put a fair value on your non-economic damages.
With the information you find, you build a case that seeks recovery for:
- Medical care and related costs
- Future or ongoing medical care needs
- Lost wages, tips, bonuses, benefits, and commissions
- Reduced future earning capacity
- Property damages, such as car repair or replacement
- Miscellaneous, related expenses with receipts
- Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages
- Wrongful death damages for families who lost loved ones in a crash
If the offer an insurance company makes does not account for each of these losses, you should consider your legal options. Your attorney can determine the value of each expense and loss category, including estimating your future care costs and putting a value on your intangible losses. Do not settle without understanding the value of these damages.
Limit Communications With the Liable Insurer
After notifying the liable party of your collision, the claims adjuster may ask you for a recorded statement. Here, they’ll ask you a few questions about what happened before, during, and after the accident. The information you share doesn’t help the insurer process your claim, however. Instead, it gives the claims adjuster reason to discredit your side of the story.
When you partner with an injury lawyer, they can recognize tactics such as these. They can also give the insurer the basic information it needs to move forward with your case.
Refrain From Sharing Too Much Information Online
Anything you share online, such as posts, statuses, or photos, could discredit your case. Claims adjusters stop at nothing to deny car accident claims. They could see something that you posted online (for instance, a picture of yourself at a baseball game) and claim that you’re not as injured as you say.
You should “lay low” on social media while your case unfolds. You don’t have to stop social media cold turkey; you should just be mindful of what you post. If possible, don’t post anything.
Consider Prompt Legal Action After a Car Accident
There are deadlines set by each state that determine your lawsuit’s filing date. Generally, these statutes of limitations vary from one to four years. For example, Georgia law gives crash victims two years to sue under most circumstances. Exceptions do exist, though. Your attorney can determine your deadline when they assess your case.
You could have less time to sue if the liable party is a government employee or agency. You might have more time if criminal charges are pending related to the crash. Other factors could affect the deadline in your case, too. Acting swiftly as soon as your injuries are stable is a good way to protect your right to compensation.
Enlist the Help of a Personal Injury Firm to Handle Your Car Accident Case
Most personal injury law firms provide no-obligation consultations for car accident victims. They assess these cases, answer questions, and outline the victim’s options for getting justice. There is no charge for these case reviews. They are also confidential.
A knowledgeable legal team makes navigating the claims process easier, less stressful, and less intimidating. There is no reason to manage the financial recovery process on your own.
With an attorney, you can count on:
- Having someone to answer your questions as they arise
- Knowing what to expect at every turn
- Being able to focus on your injuries without worrying about your claim
- Securing a professional who advocates for your best interests
- Seeking fair and just compensation based on your expenses and losses
- Getting regular case updates
- Understanding the pros and cons of each option for seeking compensation
- Having the necessary guidance to make good decisions throughout this process
Most car accident lawyers work based on contingency fees. They do not ask crash victims to pay retainers or other upfront expenses. They handle these cases using their firm’s resources to investigate the crash and build support for the claim. Their attorney’s fees come from the payout they secure for the client. If they do not win compensation, they don’t request payment.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Negotiate an Insurance Settlement
Most states require motorists to carry liability insurance. This pays for the other party’s losses in a crash. So, following your accident, you could seek compensation by filing a claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance provider.
Your attorney can assess your situation and determine a suitable legal strategy to recover the compensation you need. An experienced personal injury law firm has seen hundreds or thousands of these cases and knows the best approach based on your situation’s facts.
Suing the At-Fault Driver or Another Liable Party
Sometimes, a lawsuit is necessary to secure fair compensation. Once you file a lawsuit, settlement negotiations often continue. They could even intensify. Law firms often settle cases out of court even after filing lawsuits. Your lawyer can represent your best interests if your case goes to trial. They can present strong evidence and show the judge and jury why you deserve just compensation.
Some reasons why victims sue after car accidents include:
- The insurer undervalues the claim and refuses to negotiate.
- There are disputed facts, such as who caused the crash.
- The insurer denied the claim.
- Time is running out to sue.
- The attorney determines there is another reason why a lawsuit is necessary.
Filing a lawsuit comes with many obligations that injured claimants don’t want to deal with. Not only must you abide by the statute of limitations, but you must present compelling evidence, a solid argument, and a reason why you deserve damages.
Discuss Your Legal Options With an Attorney Who Handles Car Accident Cases
Many personal injury law firms provide free consultations for victims of car accidents. They review the circumstances of the crash and explain the victim’s legal options for recovering compensation. They answer any questions and discuss their services and fees. These initial conversations are a vital first step to protecting your rights and securing a payout. For more information, reach out to an Augusta personal injury lawyer.