No one walks or drives around expecting to be injured in a car accident. But accidents occur when we least expect it, and that's a reality we should always be prepared for. When you break your bone in a car accident, you'll most likely be in so much pain. Knowing what to do amid the pain can significantly change your case. Here are some steps to guide you.
Safety Comes First
The first and most important thing when you're injured in a car accident is to ensure that you're safe. If possible, move to a safe area and then call 911. If you can't move, call 911 and describe the accident scene. If you can't call 911 for any reason, ask anyone around you to do so.
Not calling 911 after a car accident is one mistake you may regret for a long time. Here's why.
When you file a claim against the other party's insurance company, they won't just believe your side of the story without asking questions. Even if you've been severely injured due to their insured's negligence, insurance companies will try to find a reason to blame you for the accident.
Having a police report helps strengthen your case. Since police officers are sworn to uphold the law, the insurer will most likely believe the police report. When police officers arrive at the accident scene, make sure you obtain their names and badge numbers. You should also request a copy of the police report, if possible.
Collect Important Information
After ensuring that you're safe, collect information about the accident. For example, if another driver hit you and they stopped at the scene of the accident, you'll need their:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance information
- Driver's license
- Vehicle's license plate number
- Description of the vehicle
- Time and location of the accident
Take pictures of the accident scene and any damages. If you've suffered any visible injuries, such as bleeding, make sure you document that as well.
If there are any witnesses available other than the police officers, take their contact information and ask them if they'd be willing to testify when called upon. When you file a claim against the insurance company, the witness statements could help prove certain aspects of the accident if the insurer questions the validity of your claim.
Seek Medical Attention
Seeking immediate medical attention helps establish the condition of your injuries. Therefore, it's crucial that you go for a medical checkup even if you feel alright right after the accident.
Depending on the nature of your injuries, you might feel fine the first few hours or days after the accident. And if the other driver is at fault for the accident, their insurer will most likely offer to fix your car or property if damaged.
When the insurance provider settles the costs of repairing your car or any other property damaged due to their insured's negligence, you may not see the importance of filing a medical claim because you're not experiencing symptoms at that particular moment. But if you begin to feel pain and discomfort days after the accident and then later discover that you suffered broken bones, it may be much more difficult to file a claim with the insurance company.
This is because the insurer will most likely claim that you got injured elsewhere and that you're attempting to hold them responsible for injuries their insured had nothing to do with. Your attorney will then have to prove that you sustained those injuries during the car accident.
But this won't be the easiest case to prove. Firstly, your attorney will have little evidence to work with. Secondly, the burden of proof will be much heavier on your side, giving the defendant an advantage.
The legal aspect aside, seeking medical attention right after the accident can help detect any injuries deriving from the accident early enough. For example, some victims of car accidents suffer internal bleeding, but it's not always easy to detect this type of injury without medical scans.
Internal bleeding can lead to blood clot buildup and slow, painful death. This explains why medical professionals recommend checkups even if you're not experiencing any major symptoms after a car accident. Generally, it's better to be safe than sorry in such a situation.
Contact the Insurer
You've probably read on many blogs and websites encouraging you to file a claim with the insurer right after an accident. Filing a claim is indeed an important step in the process. In fact, it establishes your intention to seek compensation for injuries caused due to the other party's negligence.
However, it's the timing that matters. Here's why.
It makes sense to file a claim if your vehicle or property was damaged in the accident, but you didn't suffer any physical injuries. Even so, you'll still need to confirm that you're injury-free by seeing an experienced doctor for medical tests right after the accident. If the doctor concludes that you didn't suffer any injuries, you might as well go ahead and file a claim to recover the damages to your vehicle or property.
However, if you've suffered significant injuries during the accident, filing a claim prematurely isn't usually the best idea. Rather, the most important thing is that you continue to receive treatment for your injuries. In such a situation, the best thing to do is to notify the other driver's insurance company about the accident.
While doing so, avoid providing too many details about the accident. This is not the time to discuss who's at fault, where you were driving to, etc. Instead, you can let them know about the date, time, and location of the accident.
Be careful when talking to insurance companies about an accident. Although they may sound friendly over the phone, they always wish that you'll say something they can use against you when you file a claim.