Been in an accident? Follow these steps:
1. Call the police. It’s very important to immediately call the police to report the accident and not to move your vehicle until the police direct you to or unless they are creating a hazard. The police officer will investigate the accident and provide an opinion on which driver was at fault. If there is no police report then it’s just you against the other driver in reporting what happened later.
2. Report any discomfort to the police. If you are feeling any discomfort or pain at all, you are hurt. you may not have any broken hones or dislocated joints, but could still have severe soft tissue damages which you are not even aware of because of the shock effect experienced after an accident. Therefore, the only way to make sure that you are healthy and have no serious permanent and debilitating injuries is to call emergency medical support and get checked out. Failure to get treated after an accident may result in an insurance carrier trying to deny your claim for bodily injury by saying you obviously weren’t hurt that day or you would have called an ambulance.
Police officers are required to ask if you have been injured and must then document your answer in their report. The insurance adjuster will often use your response to argue that you were not injured. You may not need to go to an emergency room or have an ambulance called, but you may have still been injured.
3. Obtain names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses as soon as possible and save them in a very secure location that you can find.
4. Take photographs of the vehicles at the scene and any debris, skid marks or traffic signs. Even if you do not have a camera with you, most cell phones have digital cameras you can take pictures with. If you are seriously injured, ask someone else to take pictures for you.
5. Save all bills; towing bills, rental car bills, storage fees, prescription fees, doctor bills, car repair estimates or anything else evidencing any expenses you have had to pay as a result of this accident.
6. Call a lawyer immediately!!! Some clients walk into our office 3-4 months after an accident and after they have tried to work their claim out with the adverse insurance adjuster. The clients may have been discouraged from hiring a lawyer to keep from paying the lawyer any money. When the adjuster offers $500.00 to settle the claim the client is shocked. By this time, the adjuster has handled the case in a manner most favorable to the insurance company.
7. Lost Wages documentation — lost wages cannot be claimed unless a doctor or qualified health care provider takes you off work. Without a note from the doctor saying you are not able to work, the insurance company will not consider reimbursing you for lost wages from work. Be sure and report to your employer that the doctor has taken you off work due to injuries you received from the car accident.
8. Do not answer any questions from the other side’s insurance company or attorney or sign any forms . The Adjuster will often contact you within 24 hours from the time you were in an accident and ask to record your statement. The adjusters are trained to ask “catch all” questions such as: Have you ever had problems with your neck?” Or, “Tell me all the actions you took to avoid this accident.”
Once these questions are answered you are locked in to your answers. If you want to include additional information you can be impeached later by their attorney who will create the appearance that you are now trying to correct your answers because you were coached by your attorney.