What To Do If You’re Injured In A Car Accident
If you have been injured in a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company may contact you either seeking a statement about the accident or to offer a small settlement. When this happens, you will likely have a lot of questions. Should you speak to the insurance company? Should you contact an attorney? What does a car accident lawsuit look like? Here are a few frequently asked questions to provide you with a quick overview of the personal injury litigation process.
Should I call 911?
If anyone is seriously injured and requires immediate medical attention or transportation to a hospital via ambulance, calling 911 is the right thing to do. However, even if you do not need emergency medical services, you should still have the police dispatched to the scene of the accident. If you are uncomfortable with calling the emergency number for this, you can use the non-emergency number for local authorities to have an officer dispatched.
Generally, it is beneficial to have police on-site to produce a report. The responding officer will assess the accident scene, look at accident damage, and interview the drivers involved and any witnesses. Once the officer completes this preliminary investigation, the officer will summarize findings and make a determination of fault in a police report. This report is important evidence for proving damages either to the responsible party’s insurance company or in a personal injury lawsuit.
Without a police report, things can quickly become a complicated game of your word against the other driver’s. The responding officer’s preliminary investigation allows the police report to serve as a detailed record of what drivers say happened, what witnesses saw, and what the officer observed. This starts any settlement negotiation or litigation off on a strong foot.
Do I need to go to the hospital?
This will depend upon your particular situation. However, generally speaking, the longer you wait to seek medical attention, the easier it is for the responsible party’s insurance company to disprove any claims that your injuries were caused by the accident. Refusing an ambulance or any delay in medical treatment are common defenses to liability in personal injury lawsuits. Therefore, it is important to be proactive in seeking medical attention even if you are unsure about your injuries.
Some injuries, like concussions, may not have any immediate symptoms but can have long-term effects. Getting checked out by a doctor is a good idea in the event you have experienced an injury that would otherwise not manifest until long after the accident. Once you have a diagnosis, make sure to follow through with any prescribed treatment.
What if the collision was my fault?
The responding officer will usually record an opinion as to fault in the police report. However, your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company will likely complete their investigations into fault as well. Even if you think you are at fault, it is usually unwise to state this belief because you may be completely mistaken. A car accident is a startling and often traumatic event. You may be emotional, in a state of shock, or injured. Rather than admitting responsibility for the accident, focus on taking care of yourself and let police and investigators determine fault.
What happens if the other driver does not have insurance?
Many insurance policies provide coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. An experienced attorney can help you determine if you are covered by your insurance policy in the event of an accident with an uninsured motorist and will explore other options to ensure you may recover the compensation you deserve. This may mean filing a lawsuit against the driver directly, as opposed to the traditional route of working through insurance companies.
Do I need to record anything myself?
It is generally important to exchange information with other drivers involved, obtain contact information for witnesses, and keep a diary or journal to record anything relevant to the accident or related injuries. Though you may contact the police to respond to the accident, witnesses may not be inclined to wait around. Eyewitness accounts are helpful to the police in deciding fault in the police report but will also be helpful in subsequent litigation. Therefore, if there are witnesses to the accident, make sure to at least record names and phone numbers.
From the details of the accident to your injuries, medical treatment, and related expenses, you should record this information in a diary or journal. Personal injury lawsuits can take a long time to settle and as time goes on, it is easy to forget small details that may be important to the outcome of your case. Therefore, keeping a dated, personal account of everything related to the accident will be beneficial. Make note of details surrounding the accident, any pain or symptoms related to accident injuries, money spent on medication or other medical treatment, and any missed work or other residual impacts.
Should I contact an attorney?
Though the insurance companies may be quick to contact you about the accident, you should contact an attorney before you speak to anyone other than the responding officer about the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will advocate for your best interests, working to ensure that you recover the maximum compensation you deserve.
Though the responsible party’s insurance company may be quick to offer you money, you may have more legal options available that an attorney can help you with. Our experienced personal injury attorneys here at Green Mistretta Law can work with you to ensure your rights are protected and that you take the best course of action.