Follow This Eight-Point Set of Guidelines to Protect Your Right to Compensation
The stress of being involved in a car accident can leave you confused about what to do next. Even though you didn’t cause the accident, you will be forced to deal with the effects of your injuries, as well as financial losses that you may suffer. Taking the following steps can help you to protect yourself financially and protect your rights to compensation.
1. Remain Calm
This may be the most difficult thing to do after an accident, but staying calm is also one of the most important things that you can do to protect yourself. You have many choices to make regarding your physical and financial situation after an accident that was not your fault, and you must be calm when making these decisions.
2. Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible
Your adrenaline will be pumping after a car accident, and this can prevent you from feeling the pain from a serious injury. There are many cases in which an individual feels that they are fine after an accident, only to realize later that their injuries are a lot more serious – and painful – than they originally thought. Medical care is crucial, and it should be your first consideration after any car accident.
Why Seeking Medical Attention Is So Important
Seeking medical care early on after your accident is better for your long-term physical and financial health.
When you see a doctor to get evaluated for any possible injuries from a car accident, you’re taking the first steps on the road to recovery. Undiagnosed injuries can have serious and often debilitating effects. For example, spinal cord damage can severely affect your ability to live a normal life. Complete spinal cord damage can cause severe limitations that can last throughout your life. Additionally, if the car accident caused broken bones, and they are left untreated, you can do further damage to the affected bones as well as the surrounding bones.
Seeking medical care also establishes a record of your injuries and their severity. In order to be compensated for your injuries and suffering, you will need to show that the driver who caused the accident, or another liable party, caused your injuries. Failure to seek immediate medical attention gives the other side’s team (the defendant’s insurance company and lawyers) the opportunity to argue that your injuries came from something other than the accident. This can prevent you from receiving the compensation and care that you deserve. Seeing a doctor early on will initiate a chain of evidence to show when you were hurt and what could have caused your injuries.
Listen to Your Doctors
Just as immediately seeking medical care is an important step to recovery, following your doctor’s orders is vital after a car accident. Often, doctors give you specific instructions that will reduce both pain and long-term damage to your body. One example is limiting the use of broken bones; a doctor may instruct you to avoid putting weight on an injured limb or to stop yourself from lifting things with a broken arm. They may advise a person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury to avoid anything that may cause further injury to the head.
Regardless of their advice for your situation, it is best to listen and follow their instructions closely. Sometimes people feel that they will not remember the instructions given by a medical professional, especially if they have suffered an injury that affects their ability to understand the instructions. In these cases, it may help to write the instructions down or bring someone else to your appointments who can help you remember what your doctor says. Following the doctor’s instructions is typically the quickest path toward recovery, and ignoring them may prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve.
3. Contact Your Insurance Companies
You must contact your car and health insurance companies after an accident, because both companies have ways to help you in the short term, as well as the long term. Your auto insurance provider may give you immediate funds for the repair of your vehicle, which will get you driving again sooner.
Different insurance companies offer various types of coverage, and states have different laws that may affect the compensation that you can receive. For example, your insurance provider may offer PIP coverage. Personal Injury Protection can entitle you to compensation for medical care immediately after the accident. Some states require drivers to carry PIP insurance. A good car accident lawyer can help your PIP claim move forward quickly and efficiently so that you can access the benefits to which you are entitled.
Many people neglect to contact their health insurance company after a car accident, but this mistake could come back to haunt you. If you are not liable for your injuries, your health insurance company will want to know who is liable. It’s better to proactively contact the health insurance company before they call with questions for you, because initiating the contact gives you a better opportunity to ask questions, including:
- Deductible and coverage questions
- How much your insurance will cover
- Whether your coverage includes medical equipment like crutches, beds, etc.
- Whether your policy covers physical therapy and, if so, how much therapy you’re entitled to
When you go into your medical treatments knowing exactly what to expect from your insurance coverage, you can make better decisions about your care (with your doctor’s input, of course). Often, it is best to have an attorney communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf, rather than doing this yourself, because an experienced lawyer can be an effective advocate for your rights.
4. Get the Police Report
Be sure to get a copy of the police report as soon as possible after the accident. Make sure that all the information is correct and that it tells the real story about what happened. If there is a mistake in the police report, make sure that it is corrected so the inaccurate report can’t be used against you.
5. Keep Good Records
Every piece of information that you can provide can help your case. Keep organized files of medical records, bills, and any other information that may be relevant. X-Rays, prescription receipts, treatment plans, and any documentation related to your care may be critical to proving your case.
6. Inform Your Employer
You want to set yourself up to return to your normal life as soon as possible. Openly communicate with your employer and discuss the facts of your situation. Let them know how long your doctors expect you to be out of work so they can make the proper arrangements.
Some employers allow accident victims to be out of work during their recovery, while others may make special arrangements that can enable you to work without further aggravating your injuries.
Your employee may also have information regarding sick leave, disability insurance, their requirements for your return, and how long they will hold your job for you. Your employer cannot discriminate against you for an injury or illness. A qualified accident attorney can ensure open and efficient communication with your employer that will be beneficial to both parties.
7. Do Not Accept a Settlement Without Discussing It With an Attorney
The liable party’s insurance company often offers an early settlement immediately after an accident. You may find the settlement tempting, especially if it will end the entire process. However, the offer is usually low and likely will not cover the expenses and bills related to your recovery. If you take this offer, you are doing yourself a disservice. Acceptance of this offer will disqualify you from receiving additional compensation.
An experienced car accident lawyer will know what an acceptable offer is, and they can advise you if a settlement is offered.
8. Consult a Car Accident Attorney
One of the best moves that you can make to protect your rights after an auto accident that wasn’t your fault is to contact a qualified car accident attorney. These professionals can help you to understand the legal process and give you a realistic expectation of what compensation you deserve. They can reduce the stress of a very stressful situation and, if your case goes to court, they can advocate for you at your trial. A car accident attorney will also help you to communicate with insurance companies, creditors, and employers.
A car accident is a very stressful situation that can cause a variety of problems in your life. Hiring an experienced car accident attorney can help you to navigate those difficult waters. The law firm of Console & Associates P.C. has offices in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Our team has the experience and education to advocate for you after a car accident and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on healing. Contact us to discuss your situation and discover if we can help you.