While the most common personal injury claims in the country arise out of car accidents, there are many other types of accidents that can be tremendously disruptive to your life. In addition to trying to recover your health and get your life back on track, you have to deal with the insurance company, repairs, and keeping track of all the details involved in your claim.
We understand that running through a mental checklist of Do’s and Don’ts may not be the first thing you think of after an accident. However, we encourage you to follow the steps outlined below to avoid common mistakes and maximize your compensation.
Protect Your Rights After an Accident With a Checklist
The moments immediately following an accident are the best and sometimes the only time to capture the most valuable evidence. It is critical that either you or someone else document as much of the scene as possible. You might think that the police, your employer, or other people at the scene will be of help, and they may record certain things, but ultimately the burden of proving your case and getting compensation rests on you.
To claim compensation after an accident, you may have to prove that the other party was negligent and then quantify the damages you suffered as a result of their behavior. You will likely be going up against a massive insurance company that has an army of lawyers working to reduce or outright deny your claim. This is why it is extremely important that you follow these Do’s and Don’ts after you’ve been involved in an accident so that you can protect your right to compensation.
- Record any witness statements and get their contact information
- Take photos of anything relevant to your accident
- If there are any cameras in the area, try to get a copy of the footage
The evidence that you gather will be essential to proving your case whether you choose to represent yourself or hire a lawyer.
File Any Necessary Reports
- Depending on the type of accident, there may be different reports you have to fill out
- If you’re hurt at work, you will need to notify your employer and fill out paperwork
- If you’re injured in a car accident, you should call the police and many states require you to fill out a form after any accident involving an injury or property damage over a certain amount
- Be careful what you say in these reports and examine every document before you sign it
Receive Medical Treatment
You should receive medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident as protecting your health is the highest priority. Receiving timely medical care and following your doctor’s instructions demonstrates that you have done everything in your power to minimize the costs of your medical treatment and also creates a record of care received.
Even if you don’t think your injuries are severe, you should still receive a proper medical evaluation as doctors are trained to notice symptoms that you may not. You may also be in a state of shock after the accident and unable to properly assess your condition.
An example in the case of car accidents is whiplash where the soft tissue injury resulting from the accident may not fully present itself until a day or two later. Receiving a preliminary medical evaluation will help protect you in cases like this.
Be Polite but Keep Any Communication With Adversarial Parties to a Minimum
In many cases, you will be attempting to claim compensation from an insurance company. The insurance adjusters are expertly trained to find ways to minimize your claim so be wary of this. If you are uncertain of who you should talk to or what you should say, we encourage you to get an opinion from a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims.
Keep Detailed Records of All Medical Treatment, Expenses, and Repairs
You will need to have organized records documenting all of the expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident in order to claim compensation..
These can include:
- Medical bills for any treatment or care received
- Repair bills for any property damaged
- Lost wages if you are unable to continue working or can only work in a reduced capacity
Also, keep track of how you are feeling and any inconveniences or challenges that the injury has created in your life as you may be able to recover from your pain and suffering.
Have Your Personal Injury Claim Evaluated by a Professional
You may not need a personal injury lawyer to get compensation after your accident but having your claim evaluated by an experienced attorney can give you peace of mind. It costs nothing to receive a case evaluation at Morgan & Morgan, but it can potentially save you a lifetime of headaches and stress if there was something you missed.
There are many moving parts, time-sensitive filings, and tactics that the insurance companies use, and it helps to have a law firm on your side that knows how to deal with them. Our experienced staff and attorneys can help collect evidence, deal with the insurance companies, and draft your demand package after we have established a strong case and are ready to claim your maximum compensation.
Don’t Say Anything That Could Make It Seem Like the Accident Was Your Fault
Being the victim of an accident can be traumatic and some people’s instincts are to downplay how bad it was or even to take partial blame for it. If you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, it is important to remember that it is not your fault and to not say anything that could undermine your right to recover compensation for your injuries.
Don’t Refuse Medical Treatment
It is important to have your injuries examined and treated by a medical professional. You will need these records to recover compensation to pay for your medical bills and treatment.
Don’t Accept an Early Lowball Offer
Do not be tempted to accept an early lowball offer or sign a release that will prevent you from bringing any additional claims. Insurance companies will often give accident victims a quick settlement offer in an attempt to minimize their losses.
The problem with this is that it can take months or years after a serious accident to understand the extent of your injuries and the treatment required. You could end up needing surgery, extensive physical therapy, or any number of long-term expensive treatments. What felt like a dull pain on the first day when the adrenaline was pumping through your body can get progressively worse as weeks or months pass. If you already took the quick settlement and signed a release, then you may find yourself in a difficult situation.
There is no way to accurately calculate how much compensation you will need until your treatment is complete or you have reached your maximum medical improvement level (you have recovered as much as is medically possible). Therefore, it is critical that you not settle until you know how much your treatment will cost.
If your injury is serious, we recommend having your case evaluated by a personal injury attorney before you accept a settlement and sign a release. Once you sign the release, even the best law firm in the country may not be able to help you if the cost of your treatment down the road exceeds that initial payment.
Don’t Give Recorded Statements
The insurance adjusters are trained to make you feel comfortable and get you talking as you are more likely to say something that can then be used to reduce your claim. If they ask for a recorded statement, you should decline this request. One of the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer is that they can handle your communications with the insurance companies and remove this stress and potential pitfall from your life.
Don’t Wait to Pursue Your Claim
Evidence related to your case is often time-sensitive and the longer you wait to gather evidence, the harder it will be to bring a successful claim for compensation. For example, If you suffered a slip and fall accident, the property owner could repair the situation that caused your accident and if you did not document it at the time, you may have a difficult time recovering anything.