Being in a car accident can be a shocking experience. Everything happens so fast. It is easy to lose your cool and end up making a mistake that compromises your legal rights.
Below are a few basic tips you should follow after an auto accident:
1. Always call the police. The police will investigate the accident and determine who was at-fault. They will usually issue a ticket to the at-fault driver and will always create a police report. These documents will be crucial in proving the facts of your auto accident.
2. Get the other driver’s info. Make sure you copy down the other driver’s information directly from their driver’s license and insurance card. Do not rely on the other driver to write this information down for you. People who want to avoid responsibility for a car accident may attempt to give you false information. All the information from the other driver should be contained in the police report, but it is still a good idea to write the information down yourself.
3. Take an ambulance if you need one. Injury victims who need an ambulance often refuse transport because they fear a large ambulance bill. Do not make this mistake. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will have to pay the ambulance bill, not you. Do not risk your own health and well-being to save the insurance company money. Furthermore, when it comes time to pay for your injuries, that same insurance company will attempt to argue that you were not seriously hurt because you did not take an ambulance. If you end up needing surgery or other serious medical treatment, they may even attempt to deny paying for that portion of your claim because you refused an ambulance.
4. Go to the hospital if you think you sustained a serious injury. Auto accident injury victims often delay seeking medical treatment for cost reasons. As stated above, the at-fault driver’s insurance will have to pay for your medical bills, up to a certain amount. In Missouri, all driver’s are required to carry at least $25,000.00 in coverage. Therefore, there is no reason to not go to the hospital if you think you sustained a serious injury.
5. Always follow-up with your regular doctor after the accident. Hospital emergency departments only treat those who need immediate treatment. These include car accident injury victims who have suffered life-threatening or very serious injuries. Many victims, however, suffer “soft-tissue” injuries such as muscle tears, tendons tears, and herniated discs that the emergency department will not treat (and sometimes will not even attempt to diagnose). For this reason, you need to follow-up with your regular doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Report to your doctor any pain or problems you are having after the accident. He or she will be able to make sure any soft-tissue injuries are properly diagnosed and treated.
6. Do not talk to the insurance company or give a statement. We have all heard the saying that “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” This is true in car accident injury claims as well as the criminal trials we see on television. There is a time and place to communicate with the insurance company. That time is after you have talked with an attorney, not before.
7. Do not sign anything. If the insurance company sends you anything to sign, run it by your attorney first. Many time insurance companies will try to get you to sign an authorization that allows them to access all of your medical records – past, present, and future. The insurance company does not need to know your entire medical history in order to evaluate your claim.
8. Hire a personal injury attorney from the outset. Do not wait to hire an attorney. As discussed above, insurance companies will attempt to get you to make statements or sign documents that may hurt your injury case. If you hire an attorney from the outset, you will not have to worry about unintentionally compromising your legal rights. Also, make sure the attorney you hire to handle you car accident claim specializes in injury cases. A good personal injury attorney will be able to discover all sources of available insurance, maximize your recovery, and negotiate your medical bills.
9. Attend all your medical appointments and physical therapy sessions. Make sure you do your part by complying with your medical treatment. Attending your medical appointments will ensure you achieve the best possible outcome from your injuries. Additionally, if you do not complete your medical treatment, the insurance company will blame you for any lasting effects of your injury and will attempt to reduce your auto injury claim accordingly.
10. Do not discuss the accident or your injuries on social media. Anything you post to social media could be used as legal fodder against you. It is best to avoid posting pictures or anything related to the accident to your social media accounts. Also keep in mind that if you engage in any activities that violate the medical restrictions given by your doctor, and those activities show up on your Facebook page, the insurance company may find them and use them against you. Bottom line: If you do not want to be cross-examined with it in court, then don’t post it. Better yet, don’t even do it!
If you have been injured in a car accident, please call Austin Bradley Law Office today at (417) 385-1338 to speak with an attorney. All our car accident cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not have to pay us a penny unless there is a financial recovery in your claim.
Also, feel free to send us a question about your car accident through this website by clicking here.