At the Accident
Make Observations - Identify the witnesses so someone could support your case if it goes to court. Write down their names, addresses and interview them. Ask them to tell you what they saw and note any phrases they used like "slammed into," "plowed," "speeding" or "he ran the red light." Beware of insurance representatives at the accident scene. Some insurance companies have been known to send adjusters to accident scenes in order to catch people off guard with incriminating questions or possibly sign away any rights they may have to future compensation.
Immediately Following the Accident
See a Doctor - It is very important to schedule an appointment with your own doctor as soon as possible. Don't let the insurance adjuster choose a doctor for you. You have the right to a doctor of your choice.
Take Pictures - Take pictures of your car soon after the collision. When the adjuster asks for proof of damage, it is difficult to dispute a picture taken of your car at the collision scene. Pictures of the damage will help tell your story. If possible, take pictures of the other cars involved as well. These pictures will help supply information about the severity of the impact associated with your collision.
Take pictures of your injuries before they heal. In many cases, the seat belt strap will cause bruises across the shoulder and chest, but after several weeks those bruises heal. Months later, when the insurance adjuster is arguing that the crash was not very significant, pictures of your bruises and other injuries will help solidify your claim.
As Time Passes
Write Down Your Observations - Keep notes about your injuries. In 6 or 7 months, you might forget how it hurt just to get dressed, and the adjuster may try to make it seem like any description you give is an exaggeration. Write down your pain medications. These written documents can be very valuable when presenting your claim to the insurance adjuster or to a judge and jury in court.
Keep Records of Expenses - The adjuster will ask for proof of anything you claim as an expense. It is important to keep receipts for prescriptions, household services like lawn mowing and getting someone to cook for you, car rentals and so forth. Keep each of those receipts so you can document every expense.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Do I need a lawyer? - If you have been injured, it is only right that you should seek an honest evaluation of your situation and not rely on an insurance adjuster who does not have your best interest in mind. It is important that you do so before you sign any type of paperwork from any insurance company representative.
You may have seen television commercials where an insurance adjuster will show up at an accident scene with a release form and a check. Do not sign anything or cash the check Once you do so, your claim is over. You cannot go back for more compensation if your injuries persist. You may even owe money to your health insurance provider for "subrogation".
Many times you will not immediately know the nature and extent of your injuries, or if additional treatment or surgery may be needed. If you sign a release or cash any check, all claims that you may have later will be gone. This could include future medical bills, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or workers; compensation.
Our attorneys have had extensive experience with accidents, injuries and insurance companies. We have the resources to investigate the accident, discover what claims need to be made, and review paperwork and releases. Our attorneys can handle any additional claims you may have, including uninsured motorist, excess liability coverage, uninsured motorist, defective products or road issues, crashworthiness, etc.
It is important to seek legal advice quickly because witnesses can be hard to locate, evidence can be destroyed, accident scenes change, etc
**Being involved in an automobile accident can be a traumatic experience. Knowledge and preparation can make all the difference between full compensation and a lifetime of regret. The Following information is meant to be general information and does not apply to any particular accident or injury, nor should it be considered as legal advice.**