Studies show that the United States sees over 17,000 crashes a day. While some are minor (think of dents and scratches on the vehicle), many result in injury.
If you’re one of those who experience the latter, you may not know what to do. You may be feeling overwhelmed and scared, not to mention in pain. This guide can help you navigate the legal process and get the compensation you deserve.
1. Assess Your Health
The first step you should do is determine your condition after the accident. Are you in pain? Do you feel dizzy? Do you have any visible cuts or bruises?
You should also check if the people around you are safe and healthy. If they’re not, call 911 immediately so that an ambulance can come to the scene of your accident ASAP.
If everything’s okay, then feel free to go home and rest. However, you should set an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Your physician can assess the extent of your injuries and recommend treatments (e.g., physio, massage).
It would help if you also saw a doctor, so you’ll have medical records that back up your claim for compensation from the party at fault.
Don’t forget to keep copies of all pertinent documents, including your doctor’s notes, prescriptions, and receipts for any treatment. These are valuable pieces of evidence that can help you win your injury case.
2. Call Your Auto Insurance Provider
Inform your auto insurance provider of the accident as soon as possible. They’ll start an investigation and may even assign a claims adjuster to work on your case.
The sooner you report the accident, the sooner they can start working on it. Keep in mind that most providers have a time limit for filing claims, so don’t wait too long before making the call.
You should also ask your provider if they have a list of approved lawyers and doctors you can contact for legal or medical assistance. These are professionals who specialize in handling insurance claims, so they’ll be able to guide you through the process.
Do not admit fault when speaking to your insurer. Doing so could jeopardize your case and reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
3. File a Police Report
If the accident resulted in injuries or property damage, you should file a police report. This document will serve as proof that the accident occurred and can be used to support your insurance claim.
Make sure you get a copy of the report for your records. It’ll come in handy later on when you’re ready to take legal action against the party at fault.
4. Hire the Right Personal Injury Lawyer
Not all lawyers are created equal. When looking for a personal injury lawyer, make sure you choose one who has experience in this specific area of law or injury. A truck accident attorney, for instance, may be the best person to represent you if you were injured by a truck, whether you’re a pedestrian or vehicle driver.
The best lawyer can also:
- Explain the legal process and what you can expect
- Help you file a claim with your insurance company
- Represent you in court if the case goes to trial
- Assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome for your situation
You need to feel comfortable with your lawyer. Ensure you have a good rapport and can trust them with sensitive information. Meet with several lawyers before deciding. Ask them questions about their experience and strategies they would use for your case.
Granted, lawyers cost money. The good thing is, often, personal injury lawyers can provide you with free legal advice. You are also likely not to have to pay anything upfront. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if they win your case.
5. Gather Evidence
In any personal injury case, evidence is critical. This includes medical records, police reports, witness testimonies, and photos or videos of the accident scene.
Your lawyer will need as much evidence as possible to support your claim. Collect anything you can that may be relevant: pamphlets from the hospital, receipts for medications, etc.
The more information you can provide, the better your chances of getting a favorable outcome.
Keep the evidence secure, not tampered with in any way. If you have photos or videos of the accident site, store them safely on a computer or in the cloud, so nothing happens to them accidentally before your case goes to trial. Keep the original copies if the digital ones get lost or corrupted somehow.
Finally, don’t forget about witnesses. You should have their contact information ready just in case your lawyer needs to talk with them at some point during proceedings. This could include people who saw what happened and others who’ve been injured by the same company before but didn’t report it (and now wish they had).
If you’re worried about what might happen if someone finds out you spoke with an attorney, rest assured that many states have laws protecting those who provide evidence or testimonies in legal matters.
The aftermath of a personal injury accident can be difficult and confusing. But by following these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to getting the compensation you deserve. Remember to keep all pertinent documents safe and contact a lawyer if you have any questions about your case. Stay strong, and don’t give up!