A car accident is expensive, especially if you suffer injuries. In addition to medical expenses, injuries could limit your income by keeping you out of work for an extended period. You may also need to modify your home to accommodate a new disability, or hire someone to help out with your day-to-day needs while you heal.
Taking legal action against the parties at fault for the car accident can get you the money you need to pay for those unplanned-for expenses. Here are some steps to take that can help you get the most money possible.
Seek Prompt Medical Treatment
Always seek medical treatment as soon as possible after getting into a car accident, even if you think you only suffered only minor injuries. Sometimes, severe injuries do not hurt or show symptoms right away, but still must be diagnosed and treated immediately to avoid serious, and even fatal, complications.
A trained doctor can spot these potentially-hidden injuries and put you on the path to healing right away. In diagnosing and treating you, the doctor will create medical records that your lawyer can eventually use to prove the connection between the accident and your injuries, to calculate your past medical expenses, and to predict the cost of your future medical needs.
Finally, in some states, you may also have an obligation to seek medical treatment right away to preserve your legal rights to collect insurance benefits from your own insurance policy.
Report the Accident to Your Own Insurance Company
If you carry auto insurance or other types of insurance that may cover your accident-related expenses, you may have an obligation to report the accident to your insurance company. Check your insurance policy or speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to learn what you need to tell your own insurance company to make sure you get the full benefit of the insurance you have already paid for.
Remember, however, that insurance companies always look for ways to avoid paying you, even when you are their customer. Saying the wrong thing can cost you real money. So, stick to the facts, and do not get into a discussion with your insurance adjuster about who caused the accident. Refer any questions you are unsure of how to answer to your lawyer.
Do Not Speak With, or Take Money From, Anyone Else’s Insurance Company
It’s ok to speak with your own insurance company, but try not to speak with anyone else’s. Never agree to a settlement offered by someone else’s insurance company without first speaking with an experienced lawyer. Here’s why.
As we said, insurance companies always look for ways to avoid paying benefits. If someone else’s insurance company contacts you, the company thinks its policyholder has a legal liability to you for the damages you suffered in the car accident, and that the company wants to find a way to get out of paying you.
Anything you say to an insurance adjuster from someone else’s insurance company, in other words, will probably be used against you. Adjusters have a reputation for asking confusing questions designed to trick you into saying something that gets their policyholder, and them, off-the-hook for your damages.
Likewise, if someone else’s insurance company offers you a settlement, it’s virtually guaranteed the amount of that settlement will not come close to paying you what you deserve.
Do not take unnecessary risks by speaking with someone else’s insurance company or agreeing to a lowball settlement. Instead, if an insurer who you don’t recognize calls or contacts you, refer them to your lawyer.
Keep Records of All Expenses, No Matter How Small
The party who caused your accident, and/or that party’s insurance company, may well have a legal obligation to pay for virtually all the extra expenses caused by your car accident—but only if your lawyer can prove them.
To make sure you have a chance to get repaid for every dollar a car accident costs you, keep records of every expense you have because of it, no matter how small. Keep medical bills. Keep insurance statements. Keep receipts from the pharmacy, repair invoices for your car, Venmo records for the money you paid to an in-home nurse, and text receipts from Ubers you take to-and-from a doctor’s appointment.
No expense is too small to request as damages, so long as you can prove it. So, keep everything and give it to your lawyer.
Consider Keeping an Injury Journal
People who suffer injuries in car accidents often want to heal and put the injury behind them as soon as possible, and to forget the discomfort and difficulty they suffered. That’s understandable, but it can complicate the process of seeking damages when it comes time for your lawyer to prove the pain and suffering you endured.
One way to preserve the recollections of your injuries is to keep an injury journal, which notes the symptoms, pain levels, emotional effects, and personal consequences of your injuries for you and others. Jotting down a note or two about how an injury interferes with your personal relationships or prevents you from enjoying an activity or event can help you remember those difficulties later-on.
Keeping a journal isn’t for everyone, and it can help to have a lawyer’s input to know what sort of information to track. But it can often serve as a useful tool to preserve memories of difficult times so that you do not have to struggle to remember them when the time comes.
Stick to Your Medical Treatment Plan
Do as your doctor tells you until you have reached what your doctor considers maximum recovery. That means keeping appointments, going to physical therapy, doing rehab exercises at home, filling prescriptions, and taking your medicine.
Follow your doctor’s orders for three key reasons. First, it keeps you on the path to healing. Second, it keeps your medical records up-to-date and available for your lawyer to use. Third, it prevents defense lawyers and insurance companies from arguing that you made your own injuries worse by not taking care of yourself.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer Right Away
The sooner you have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side after suffering injuries in an accident, the better your chances of protecting your legal rights and getting the most money possible from the accident.
Car accident lawyers work on contingency, which means they only get paid if you get paid. You have nothing to lose, and potentially lots to gain. Contact a skilled car accident attorney today to learn more about your rights.