Table of Contents
- Speak to a Lawyer
- Seek Insurance
- Insurance Adjusters
- Prep Your Case
- Tell the Truth
- Don’t Sign Anything Immediately
- Claim Adjustments
- Seek Medical Help
- Don’t Post Your Case on Social Media
- Don’t Leave the Scene of an Accident without Calling the Police
- Don’t Talk to Insurance Companies without a Lawyer
- Show up at IMEs and EUOs
Car accidents can be a traumatic and life-changing experience, leaving victims with physical injuries, emotional turmoil, and financial burdens.
Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, but having the right information at your disposal is crucial to ensure that you receive the compensation and care you deserve.
In this article, we will discuss essential things you need to know if you have been injured in a car accident. We will cover topics such as understanding your legal rights, seeking immediate medical attention, collecting and preserving crucial evidence, and working with insurance companies and personal injury attorneys.
Dyson Law PLLC aims to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to make informed decisions and protect your interests during this challenging time.
1. Speak to a Lawyer
After being involved in a car accident, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what steps to take next. One of the most important things you can do is speak to an experienced car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options, and determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit. During a consultation, a car accident lawyer will evaluate your case and provide guidance on how best to proceed.
They can help you navigate the complex legal process, including dealing with insurance companies and pursuing compensation for damages such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
It’s important to remember that time is of the essence; there are strict deadlines for taking legal action. By contacting a lawyer or attorney as soon as possible after your accident, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you have the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve.
In addition to helping with legal proceedings, a car accident lawyer can also provide valuable support during this difficult time.
They can connect you with resources such as medical professionals who specialize in treating injuries sustained in car accidents.
2. Seek Insurance
If you’ve been in a car accident, one of the first things you should do is contact your insurance company. The sooner you report the incident and start the claims process, the better. This will help ensure that any medical bills, car repairs, or other expenses related to the accident are covered by your insurance.
When you contact your insurance company, make sure you have all necessary information on hand.
This includes the other driver’s insurance information, police report (if applicable), and any medical records related to injuries sustained in the accident.
Seeking Insurance Is a Survival Response
While no one wants to be involved in a car accident, seeking insurance is a survival response that can help individuals recover from both financial and emotional impacts of such incidents.
By having proper coverage in place and working with qualified professionals when necessary, individuals can protect themselves from undue stress and hardship following an accident.
Statistics on Car Accidents and Insurance
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were over 6 million police-reported crashes in the United States in 2019. These accidents resulted in over 36,000 fatalities and countless injuries.
Having proper insurance coverage is crucial for protecting oneself against financial losses resulting from car accidents.
In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), liability coverage is required by law in most states. This coverage helps pay for damages or injuries caused by an insured driver, up to policy limits.
3. Be Careful What You Say to Insurance Adjusters
Be cautious when speaking with insurance adjusters. Often under the pretense of “quality control,” insurance companies record your phone conversations with them. This practice isn’t solely for preventing unforeseen issues; it also creates a record of everything you say.
They often ask questions in a specific, scripted manner to reduce claim payouts based on your responses. Adjusters typically do this before you hire a lawyer, as they are trained to ask numerous questions during the initial contact and claim reporting stage. Florida is a comparative negligence state. If a plaintiff is partially at fault for an accident in which they suffer harm, that person’s recovery of damages will be reduced.
Adjusters will ask questions about the accident, seeking any fault on your part that would minimize the payout. They often pose challenging questions about time, speed, and distances, which can lead to mistakes unless you have formal training in accident reconstruction.
Adjusters are skilled at appearing friendly and empathetic, putting people at ease and encouraging them to speak freely. However, your words and phrases can be taken out of context.
Remember that your conversations are likely being recorded. Seemingly harmless responses, like saying “I’m okay” when asked how you’re feeling, could be used against you later on. As attorneys, we know how to handle these tactics, but be aware that insurance carriers invest time and effort in claim intake for a reason – and it’s intentional.
4. Prep Your Case
Gathering substantial evidence as quickly as possible can provide you with strategic advantages down the line. The more comprehensive documentation you have about the accident’s circumstances, medical treatment visits, daily limitations and strain, and any changes to your normal routine, habits, relationships, or mental state, the stronger your case will be.
Remember, details matter.
From the very beginning, create a dedicated car accident folder with subfolders for each category of documentation, such as property damage claims, no-fault claims, unpaid medical bills, and police reports. It’s also important to maintain a daily health journal with detailed information about your physical symptoms and treatments.
Be sure to establish a paper trail for every action that might be relevant to your case, starting with contacting the police right after the accident and filing a police report.
Seek Medical Help Immediately
Seek immediate medical attention following an accident. If you experience any symptoms within the first 48 hours, regardless of how minor they may seem, consult a medical professional. Symptoms that are new or have worsened since the accident should be assessed by a competent healthcare provider.
If you can’t visit your regular doctor over the weekend, go to the emergency room instead. Be sure to follow all medical recommendations closely, and keep copies or photos of all related paperwork, receipts, prescriptions, and medical devices.
Monitor Your Sleep Patterns After the Accident
Sleep disturbances are often an overlooked yet distressing consequence of car accidents, which can result from injury-related pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a combination of factors.
If you’re experiencing sleep disruptions, consult a physician. If the accident has caused or exacerbated stress or anxiety, seek help from a mental health professional.
5. Tell the Truth
When you’ve been in a car accident, it can be tempting to downplay any injuries or details that may seem insignificant.
However, it’s crucial to always tell the truth about what happened, including any details that may seem minor. This can help avoid discrepancies in witness statements and prevent potential legal issues down the line.
Even if you think your injuries are minor, it’s important to document them accurately. If you don’t report all of your symptoms or pain levels at the time of the accident, it could be difficult to prove later on that they were caused by the crash.
Additionally, if there are any discrepancies between your initial statement and subsequent reports, this could raise questions about your credibility.
6. Don’t Immediately Sign Anything
One of the mistakes that many people make is signing documents immediately after a car accident without fully understanding anything.
Keep in mind that the paperwork provided by insurance companies carries legal implications.
A Medical Authorization Release
A medical authorization release which allows the disclosure of your medical information, can give the insurance company unrestricted access to your entire medical history if not properly drafted by an attorney.
This level of access is overly intrusive, unnecessary for processing your claim, and would not be permitted by a legal professional. Insurance adjusters are well aware of this.
Release of All Claims
A release of all claims is precisely what it sounds like and is usually required before receiving compensation. This document absolves the at-fault driver and their insurance company of any liability for your damages, from the accident date onward.
Once signed, it is legally binding and prevents you from pursuing further legal action for your injuries. Before signing, ensure that you are adequately compensated and have an attorney review the release.
This applies to property damage releases, bodily injury releases, or general releases of all claims. It’s crucial to have a lawyer approve any release before you sign it.
7. Claim Adjustments
Understanding the claims process is crucial when filing an injury claim after a car accident. The amount of compensation you receive for damages and medical expenses will depend on the strength of your claim and the evidence you provide.
It’s important to keep track of all medical bills and expenses related to your injury, as these will be factored into any settlement offer.
When filing a claim, it’s essential to understand that insurance companies have their own adjusters who investigate the accident and determine the value of your claim. These adjusters are trained to minimize payouts, so it’s important to have a strong case with supporting evidence.
One common tactic used by insurance adjusters is to offer a low settlement amount early in the claims process. This is done in hopes that you’ll accept the offer without seeking legal advice or negotiating for a higher amount. It’s important not to accept any settlement offers until you’ve consulted with an attorney or at least reviewed your options with someone experienced in personal injury law.
Recovery time for injuries such as whiplash, sprains, and tissue damage can vary greatly, so it’s important to seek medical attention and follow a treatment plan to ensure full recovery and minimize impact on your daily life.
Failure to do so may result in further complications down the road or even permanent damage. If you’re unable to work due to your injuries, lost wages should also be included in your claim. This includes both current lost wages as well as potential future earnings if you’re unable to return to work for an extended period of time.
In addition to lost wages, pain and suffering can also be factored into your claim. Pain and suffering refer to physical pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety or depression caused by the accident or resulting injuries.
It’s important not only to keep track of all medical bills but also other expenses incurred as a result of the accident such as transportation costs or home care services required during your recovery. These expenses can add up quickly and should be included in your claim for full compensation.
When filing a claim, it’s important to provide as much evidence as possible to support your case. This includes police reports, witness statements, medical records and bills, and any other documentation related to the accident or injuries sustained.
Insurance adjusters will also consider the extent of damages sustained in the accident when determining the value of your claim. This includes both property damage and physical injuries. The more severe the damages, the higher the potential settlement offer may be.
8. Seek Medical Help
It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention after a car accident, even if you don’t feel any pain or have visible injuries. While some injuries may be apparent, others may not be immediately noticeable. Medical staff can identify underlying injuries that may not be immediately apparent, such as head injuries or chest injuries.
Medical providers will assess your condition and provide treatment accordingly. They will also document your injuries and the treatment provided in your medical records. This documentation is vital if you need to file an insurance claim or pursue legal action.
Follow-up Appointments and Treatment
After seeking initial medical attention following an accident, it’s crucial to follow up with appointments and continue with recommended treatment plans. Delaying or skipping appointments can lead to long-term health problems.
For instance, failure to treat lower back pain could lead to chronic pain and mobility issues later on in life. Similarly, untreated mental health conditions like PTSD can cause severe emotional distress over time.
Medical providers will give instructions on how frequently you should return for follow-up appointments based on your condition’s severity.
9. Don’t Post Anything About Your Case on Social Media
Insurance companies and defense attorneys may use your social media posts against you in court. It’s a common tactic used to discredit the plaintiff and reduce the amount of compensation they receive. Even seemingly innocent posts can be twisted to make it seem like you were at fault for the accident, or that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
It’s important to remember that anything you post online can potentially be used against you in court. Even if your account is set to private, there are ways for defense attorneys to access your posts through mutual friends or other means.
Posting about your injuries or recovery can also be used to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. For example, if you post about going out dancing with friends while claiming back pain from the accident, they could argue that if dancing didn’t exacerbate your pain, then it must not be that bad.
It’s best to avoid posting anything related to the accident or your case until it is resolved. This includes any details about the accident itself, any medical treatment or diagnoses related to the accident, and any discussions about legal proceedings.
If you must post something related to the accident or your case, make sure it’s approved by your attorney first and does not contain any information that could harm your case. Your attorney will have a better understanding of what information should be kept private and what can be shared publicly without damaging your case.
Check what others are posting about you. Ask friends and family to refrain from posting anything about the accident or your injuries, and consider setting up a Google Alert for your name to stay informed of any mentions online.
10. Don’t Leave the Scene of an Accident without Calling the Police
Leaving the scene of a car accident without calling the police is illegal and can result in serious consequences. It’s important to call law enforcement to the scene of a car accident, even if there are no apparent injuries or damage at first glance.
Calling law enforcement to the scene of a car accident can help ensure that all parties involved receive medical attention and that the incident is properly documented. Law enforcement officers can provide assistance and guidance on what steps need to be taken next, including contacting emergency services, arranging for towing services, and collecting information from witnesses.
Car crash victims who fail to call law enforcement may find themselves unable to prove their case in court if they decide to pursue legal action against those responsible for their injuries or damages. Insurance companies may also deny claims if there isn’t enough evidence proving that an accident occurred.
In addition to being illegal, leaving the scene of an accident without calling law enforcement shows a lack of responsibility and concern for others’ well-being. By failing to take appropriate action after causing or witnessing a car crash, individuals put themselves and others at risk.
It’s also worth noting that hit-and-run accidents are becoming increasingly common in many parts of the world. Hit-and-run drivers often flee because they fear facing legal consequences or because they don’t have proper insurance coverage.
However, these drivers only compound their problems by leaving the scene without reporting what happened. Law enforcement officials are trained professionals who know how to handle car accidents and provide assistance to those involved.
They can help ensure that all parties receive the medical attention they need and that the incident is properly documented for future reference.
11. Don’t Talk to Insurance Companies Without a Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important to know that insurance companies are not on your side. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible, and anything you say to an insurance company can be used against you in court. In fact, insurance adjusters may try to pressure you into accepting a low settlement offer.
Insurance companies have teams of lawyers and adjusters who are trained to minimize payouts and protect the company’s bottom line. They will use any information they can gather from you against you in court, even if it seems harmless at the time.
That’s why it’s crucial to consult with a personal injury lawyer before speaking to any insurance company representatives. A lawyer can protect your rights and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. A personal injury or car accident lawyer has experience dealing with insurance companies and knows how they operate. They understand the tactics that adjusters use and can help you navigate the claims process.
One of the most important things a personal injury lawyer can do for you is help you understand the full extent of your injuries. Insurance companies will often try to downplay injuries or argue that they were pre-existing conditions in order to avoid paying out more money.
A lawyer will work with medical professionals to determine the true value of your claim based on medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other factors. They will also take into account future medical expenses or ongoing treatments that may be necessary as a result of your injuries.
By working with a personal injury lawyer, you can ensure that all aspects of your case are taken into consideration when negotiating with an insurance company. This includes not only compensation for damages but also potential long-term effects on your health and well-being.
It’s important to note that anything you say to an insurance company representative could potentially harm your case later on. Even innocent statements made in passing could be twisted or taken out of context to undermine your claim.
That’s why it’s best to let a personal injury lawyer handle all communication with insurance companies. They will know how to phrase things in a way that protects your interests and avoids any potential pitfalls. In addition to protecting your rights, a personal injury lawyer can also help you understand the legal process involved in filing a claim.
They can explain the various deadlines and requirements for submitting paperwork and provide guidance on what steps you need to take next.
12. Show Up at IMEs and EUOs
If you have retained an attorney and filed the No-Fault application promptly, you may be required to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME) or an Examination Under Oath (EUO), or even both.
If a healthcare provider believes that a patient’s injuries have not yet healed and additional treatment is medically necessary, we recommend that they continue treating the patient and seek reimbursement from the insurance company through court proceedings or arbitration.
However, it’s crucial to attend these examination:
Independent Medical Exam (IME)
When a healthcare provider determines that a patient’s injuries haven’t fully recovered and further medical care is required, it’s advisable for them to keep providing treatment and pursue reimbursement from the insurance company via legal channels or arbitration.
Examination Under Oath (EUO)
Nonetheless, it’s essential for patients to attend these examinations. Examinations Under Oath (EUO) for the No-Fault Insurance company involve sworn statements, similar to a deposition, and are conducted under the pretext of a factual investigation by the insurer.
However, in many instances, the adjuster or attorney conducting the EUO may overstep the boundaries of what is allowed during the examination. For this reason alone, you should never attend an EUO or any event where testimony is taken under oath without legal representation.
Choosing the Right Lawyer for Your Case
The legal representation you choose significantly impacts your case. Some law firms may habitually settle personal injury claims for far less than their true worth.
We’ve had clients approach us, uncertain about the advice they received concerning a low offer, only for us to secure full policy settlements or achieve 5 to 10 times the amount offered by their previous law firm.