A car crash can turn your life upside-down. The accident itself and the ensuing recovery can be hectic, stressful, and confusing. What are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to pay all these bills and move forward? And can anyone guide you through this process?
Morgan & Morgan has put together the following checklist for anyone who has been in a car accident. By checking off each of these boxes, you can greatly increase your chances of bouncing back from a crash with your health and your finances intact.
[ ] Document Everything at the Scene of the Accident
If you were in a car accident, take pictures of your vehicle and write down the date and location where the accident occurred, as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses. If there is a dispute later about your claims, you’ll be glad that you meticulously documented the scene of the accident.
[ ] Go to the Doctor and Follow Their Instructions
Sometimes injuries that occur during a crash don’t manifest themselves until hours, days, or even weeks later. Without a detailed medical evaluation, it could be tough to prove your injuries. On top of getting evaluated, we recommend strictly following all doctor’s orders and attending all scheduled appointments.
Missing a follow-up appointment or physical therapy session could be used against you, as the insurance company might argue that you’re not as injured as you claim.
[ ] Contact Your Insurance Company
Although not every personal injury case involves making a claim with an insurance company, many do. If you were involved in a car accident, you don’t want to wait too long to contact the insurance company and file a claim. As with missed doctor’s appointments, the insurance company might cite this delay as proof that your injuries are not severe.
Though you can hire a lawyer at any point during the claim process, there is always a statute of limitations (or legal deadline) for how long you have to file a lawsuit. Every state is different, so be sure to check the statute of limitations for your state. In most places, a lawsuit must be filed within two or three years of the injury.
[ ] Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If the insurance company delays or denies your claim, or pays you less than you feel you are owed, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to explore your options. An attorney may be able to help you recover significantly more compensation than the insurance company is offering.
In fact, according to the insurance companies’ own studies, people who hire an attorney after a car crash recover three times more than those who don’t (on average).
[ ] Keep Track of All Evidence of Loss
If you sustain injuries or property damage from an accident, you could be on the hook for repair and medical bills you didn’t expect. But if the accident wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t be responsible for these expenses. Keep track of ALL relevant expenses so that you can seek reimbursement for them. Make sure to retain all of your receipts so you don’t get stuck paying for something you shouldn’t have to.
[ ] Keep a Journal of Pain and Suffering
In the most severe accidents, additional damages may be awarded for pain and suffering in addition to tangible losses like medical bills and lost wages.
However, there is no definitive way to calculate this sort of damage, so keeping a journal of how your injuries affect your daily life and relationships may help quantify the extent of your pain and suffering.
[ ] Tell the Truth
It’s important to remember that filing a claim with an insurance company is not meant to be profitable. It’s meant to provide you with compensation for losses you suffered because of an unexpected incident.
Insurance companies may even hire a private investigator to follow you around and make sure you’re as injured as you claim to be. If you are caught lying, you could put the compensation you’re legitimately entitled to at risk, and end up with nothing.
This should go without saying, but always tell the truth and be completely upfront about the extent of your injuries. You’re not after a quick buck; you’re pursuing justice.