Ten Steps to Follow If You Have Been Injured in A Car Accident PART-2 (Steps 6-10)
If you have been hurt in a car accident there are certain things you should do immediately following the collision to ensure that you have the best chance of receiving full compensation for your injuries. Below are steps six to ten of a ten step list that will help you protect your rights when seeking a recovery from the insurance company.
6. Don’t give any statements to any insurance company even your own. Never give a statement to any insurance company following an accident-even your own! Agents of the insurance companies will surely try to contact you and represent that they are there to help you and have your best interests in mind. You may believe that your insurance company is on your side and the other side’s insurance adjusters are the only ones you need to take caution with. However, this is not the case.
In the event that the other driver is uninsured or has inadequate insurance to cover your injuries, then you will need to pursue your own insurance company for coverage under your uninsured or under insured motorist policy. Once you do so, then you are in a direct confrontation with your insurance company. You will be seeking the maximum payout possible and your insurance company will be looking to pay you the lowest amount they can get away with. Insurance companies owe a duty to their shareholders to maximize their profits and stock prices. They do this by collecting insurance premiums and paying out as little as possible when claims are made.
Insurance companies always try to contact injured individuals shortly after a car accident to obtain a statement of what happened. One reason they do this is because they know that the injured individual will have not had time to consult with an attorney. The insurance company will seek to obtain a statement that they can later use against you when you are seeking compensation for your injuries. As such, you should not give a statement to the insurance company regarding how the accident happened or the extent of your injuries. You may notify your insurance company that the accident occurred, but you should tell them that you do not want to give any statement until you have consulted an attorney.
7. Obtain an experienced attorney. If you were injured as a result of a car accident, you should hire an experienced attorney to represent you. Unlike the insurance company, your attorney will have your best interests in mind and will fight to see that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. An experienced attorney will be able to provide you with guidance throughout the entire process. Your attorney will be able to assist you with: settling your property damage claim, getting your vehicle repaired, getting money or coverage for a rental car, seeing that medical providers provide you with treatment, maximizing monetary recovery for your injuries (by filing a lawsuit or through negotiations with the insurance company) and negotiating and reducing medical liens.
Studies and surveys show that individuals who are represented by attorneys receive 2-3 times more compensation than individuals who are unrepresented. Even though part of your settlement will be paid to the attorney representing you, the amount you will be obtaining will be substantially higher than if you took on the insurance company yourself. In other words, an experienced attorney will pay for himself. Make sure you hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible following a car accident.
8. Keep a diary detailing your injuries, experiences, medical treatment and expenses. It is a good idea to keep a diary following an accident to help you recollect important events and experiences. In your diary you should record details regarding the events of the accident, the pain and symptoms associated with your injury, the medical providers you received treatment from, any time missed from work and any out of pocket expenses for co-pays and prescriptions. In the event your case requires a lawsuit, it may take two to three years from the time of the accident until you have your day in court. As such, you can use your diary to help you recollect details that may have become fuzzy or forgotten over time.
The details following an accident may be clear immediately following it, but chances are you will not remember the details the same way two to three years later. You should write down all the details surrounding the accident shortly after it happens. This may include: what you were doing the day of the accident, where you were heading, the weather conditions, the traffic conditions, how the collision occurred, conversations you had at the scene, etc. In addition, you should record how your injuries affected you. This can include the pain you experienced, the inability to do normal daily living activities, the people you needed to burden and rely upon and how this made you feel.
You should also keep track of your medical providers and appointments as well as any time missed from work and expenses incurred. Your attorney will be required to provide the insurance company with comprehensive medical records to support your injury claim. This will help your attorney obtain this information later. Any time missed from work and expenses spent on medical treatment are recoverable. As a result, you will want to make sure that these items are well documented so you can claim them as well. It is much easier to document these items at the time they occur, than try to sort it out two to three years later. Make sure you keep a diary after your accident to assist you in advancing your injury claim.
9. Follow through with therapy and all medical appointments. It is important to follow through with all prescribed medical treatment and physical therapy following an injury accident. Physical therapy and subsequent medical appointments can be time consuming and burdensome. Nevertheless, they are necessary to help you recover from your injuries and restore you to optimal health.
If you fail to attend prescribed medical appointments and complete all assigned physical therapy, the insurance company will argue that you were not injured. The insurance companies will also argue that you failed to mitigate your damages. In other words, the insurance companies will claim that you are at fault for increasing the extent of your injuries and any permanent side-effects by not following through with your prescribed medical treatment. The insurance companies will then look to reduce the recovery to which you are entitled as a result. Do not give the insurance companies any way to attack your injury claim. Always, complete all recommended medical treatment and attend all appointments.
10. Be patient During the Process. It is important to remain patient during the process of seeking a recovery from the insurance company. Generally, a recovery may not be obtained until you have completed all necessary medical treatment and completely recovered from your injuries or reached a point where your injuries are as good as they are going to get. This process could take several months or even years. In addition, if a lawsuit is required, this could take several more years depending on several different factors, including the complexity of the case, the court’s schedule, witness availability, etc. Do yourself a favor, be prepared for the long haul and remain patient when seeking a recovery for your injuries.