Being involved in an automobile accident can be terrifying, and painful. A personal injury auto accident is quite overwhelming, and your rights and responsibilities can get confusing.
Here are some of the steps a driver should take if they are involved in a personal injury auto accident.
Take it Seriously
Any car accident, even if you think it’s minor, is a serious situation. Be sure that you call the police to report to the scene. Also, request a copy of the police report from the accident, even if the law doesn’t require it. An accurate account of the accident is invaluable when the insurance companies try to determine fault and responsibility, and a police report can provide that for you.
If you end up hiring a personal injury attorney, he will also need this report to help support your case.
See a Doctor
Often, EMT’s or other medical professionals will respond to the accident scene. Always allow them to examine you and follow their advice, but don’t stop there. A lot of times, an injury won’t become apparent for several hours, or even days after the accident. You should always see a doctor to discuss the accident, and the possibility of an injury, even if you think that you’re fine. Be sure to follow all medical advice that is given to you. It will help to speed your recovery, but it will also protect your claim.
Connecting your injuries to the auto accident is instrumental in settling a personal injury claim. Be sure that the doctor knows that you were in an accident and that you suspect that any injuries are a result of that accident. Some states will reduce a settlement if you do not follow all of the medical recommendations, including follow-up visits, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or appointments with other medical professionals.
Keep a Journal
A daily journal, or diary, describing any medical treatment or advice, as well as any inconveniences caused by the accident and/or your injuries can be invaluable in determining a fair settlement in a personal injury claim.
This journal should include any detail related to the accident and your injuries, such as:
- Dates, times, and locations of the accident and any subsequent appointments with medical or legal professionals.
- Accurate descriptions of your injuries and your daily pain levels or symptoms.
- Any prescription medication needed during your recovery.
- Details of your daily life, and how the accident has changed it.
- If you can’t work or have new restrictions at work due to the injury.
- If you miss work due to appointments.
- If you have difficulty taking care of yourself, dressing yourself, or with personal hygiene.
Remember, if the journal is used as evidence in court, it can help your case, but it can also hurt it. Keep it as professional and clinical as possible. Don’t be too emotional with your entries, unless you’re describing emotional pain and suffering.
Always take the journal to medical appointments. It can serve to remind you of any symptoms to discuss with your doctor that you may have forgotten. It will also be noted in your medical history which gives more validity to your claim in court or with the insurance company.
Track All Expenses
Keep an accurate account of all out-of-pocket expenses associated with the accident. This will include consultation fees, medical fees, medical devices (crutches, braces, shower chairs, etc.), transportation and parking, and lost wages from work.