Car accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the United States so being prepared for what to do after an accident is important. Knowing how to deal with insurance companies and medical providers will help you recover as quickly as possible from your accident. Regardless of whether or not the fault is clear, following these steps immediately after a crash can ensure that you receive the full amount of necessary compensation.
Seek medical treatment within 24 hours of the accident.
While it may be difficult to think about your health when you’ve been injured, it’s crucial to seek immediate treatment if at all possible following a car crash. The doctor who treats you shortly after the crash is likely going to be able to document and identify the extent of your injuries more accurately than a doctor who sees you weeks or months later. The earlier your injuries are diagnosed and documented, the easier it will be to prove that they were caused by the crash.
Take pictures of your injuries and your car.
Injuries from a car crash generally heal within a few weeks or months at most but those same injuries may take much longer to heal if you don’t have adequate treatment. Taking pictures of your injury as soon as possible after the crash can help identify the problem area(s), which will make it easier for doctors to diagnose and treat your condition. It’s also important to take pictures of any damage done to your car so that you can potentially use those images later in a claim or lawsuit.
Hire a lawyer who specializes in personal injury.
While you shouldn’t exaggerate or lie about how much your injuries and damages cost, it’s also important for you not to understate them. A lawyer can help determine the value of your claim and will be committed to working hard on your behalf. For some states like California, it’ll be hard to determine this legally by yourself so hiring a car accident attorney in San Diego, CA is essential. This is especially true if your accident was someone else’s fault.
A personal injury attorney may be able to negotiate compensation with an insurance company even when the other party denies fault. Here are some tips for choosing the right lawyer:
- Get recommendations from friends and family.
- Find a lawyer who can show that they specialize in car accidents and personal injury.
- Research your options online to see which lawyers other people have chosen for their cases.
- Get to know your lawyer by setting up a consultation in person, over the phone or online.
- Ask for a quote and make sure the lawyer’s fees do not take precedence over your needs.
Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.
The insurance company is going to be eager to settle because it’s likely cheaper for them in the long run. By giving them an opportunity to settle quickly, you’ll have more leverage when negotiating compensation. Don’t accept their first offer. Let them make you two offers and counter-offer until you find something that works for you.
In fact, it’s best not to accept a settlement from the other driver’s insurance company without consulting your attorney. If the other driver is at fault, his insurance company should pay for your injuries and damages. Even if you have been in an accident with a clear-cut liability situation, you still want to consult with an attorney before accepting any money from the other driver’s insurance company. The fact that they are offering compensation without a lawsuit being threatened means that they believe their insured has committed some degree of negligence under the law so their settlement offer could be reduced based on this assessment.
Go to therapy.
Your mental health is every bit as important as your physical health following a car crash, but it can be easy to forget about your mental well-being when you’re focused on recovering and getting better. It’s especially important to consider therapy if you’ve experienced:
- Feelings of depression or anxiety
- Problems sleeping or concentrating
- Memory problems that aren’t related to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
These issues may not go away on their own, even if they feel manageable at first. If you find yourself feeling helpless and hopeless in the aftermath, don’t hesitate to seek help from a therapist who can try to get you back on track.
Your personal injury claim is your legal right so if you have been involved in a car crash due to someone else’s negligent actions, it’s important to take action immediately. To get the highest compensation, you need to keep the big picture in mind and avoid making any mistakes that could be costly. Take proactive measures, find a good personal injury attorney, talk to your insurance company when it’s time to settle and get psychological help if necessary.