Five Critical Tips for Victims of Car Accident Injuries
- Take and preserve all relevant photos. Take photos of damage to your vehicle and all other vehicles involved, and images of your injuries such as bruising, blood on your body, clothes or scene of the incident as soon as possible. This type of evidence can be critical in proving your case later and obtaining fair compensation for your injures. If you suffered significant bruising or scarring, take pictures every few weeks or at least every month to document healing. Being able to show later how long it took for your injury to heal can be very useful in proving your case.
- Get contact information or any witnesses of the accident. This is especially important in potential "he said - she said" situations as it's commonly the case in red light / green light accidents, where both sides claim that they had a green light and in assault and battery cases, where both parties blame the other side for starting or provoking the fight. In these types of cases, having even one witness can make a big difference in proving that the other side is liable. But, even in other types of cases where liability is clear, having witnesses corroborate your side of the story can't hurt.
- Do not panic and do not hurry to resolve legal issues or hire a lawyer. You might be really angry and worry because of what happened and you are eager to take legal action against the other driver. However, you must attend to your injuries first and get the medical care and attention you need, whether it's ambulance, emergency room, or your primary car physician. Speaking with a claim's person from your insurance company or the other driver's insurance company can wait and so is talking to a lawyer. The law provides you with ample time to consider your legal options so there is no reason to rush to speak with or hire a lawyer. Taking care of the legal part of your claim a bit later is not going to hurt your claim in any way.
- Do not delay receiving medical attention. Many people wait for months after the accident to get the medical treatment they need, either because they can't afford it or because they just don't want to bother. They hope that they will get better on their own. However, when they don't or when their pain gets worse, they eventually report to a hospital to get their x-rays / MRI done. This delay, however, gives the opposing side the opportunity to argue later two things: (a) your pain wasn't as bad as you say it was, because if it was, you would have sough medical care much sooner; and (b) since so much time passed after the incident, the injuries shown on x-ray or MRI image might have been caused by some other incident that occurred later. These types of arguments can be more or less effective depending on the circumstance, but they certainly don't help your case. Therefore, if you suffered a serious injury, you should not delay getting at least initial medical check-up and evaluation, so that your injuries can at least be documented as soon as possible after the date of the incident.
- Do not feel forced to speak with the opposing party or their insurance representative right away. Once you report a claim, a claim's examiner will likely call you within a few days to talk to you about your accident and your injuries. He may also try to tempt to into accepting a lowball settlement in exchange for signing release of claims. There is no reason to rush with this type of decision. If you don't feel comfortable speaking with whoever contacts you about your case, feel free to not return their calls for now or give them a courtesy call and tell them that either you or your attorney will be in touch with them when you are ready to speak with them. Speaking with an insurance company later is not going to hurt you.