Nearly 3 million people are injured in car accidents in the United States each year. If you’re one of them, you may not know what to do next. You might be asking yourself, “Whose fault is it?” Or, “Do I need a lawyer?” While these questions are important, there are some simple steps you should be taking before you even worry about fault or legal action. Here’s what they are.
First of all, you need to get checked out at the hospital or visit your doctor as soon as you can after you’ve been in an auto accident. You may not think you need medical attention; however, many auto injuries aren’t immediately apparent. You need to make sure that you don’t have an internal injury or a concussion, which only a medical professional can detect. And, while you might not be thinking about legal action just yet, you will want a medical record of a possible personal injury.
Whether you’re involved in a car accident, bike accident, pedestrian accident, or something else, there will more than likely be documentation of it if the police or witnesses were involved. Be sure not to walk away from the scene without a copy of the police report, names of the people involved, phone numbers, and insurance information if possible. You or someone else should also try to snap a few pictures if you are able. After you’ve sought medical attention, be sure to save any medical bills, physician statements, witness information, or insurance estimates. Even if you don’t file a claim, these documents can prove your innocence if someone tries to blame you for the accident.
You will probably be sifting through pages of paperwork after an accident, as soon as a day or two after the occurrence. It’s a good idea to make your own record of the incident while your memories are still fresh. Try to recall all of the details and jot them down as soon as you can. Go through what happened step by step so that you don’t miss something important. Don’t focus on one factor—doing so can make a big difference if or when you need to take legal action.
Sometimes, people who have been injured mistakenly sign documents that they shouldn’t. If the person who’s at fault hires a lawyer before you do, you might feel pressured to sign something that you don’t understand or that makes it difficult for you to be fully compensated. An insurance company can even pressure you into signing an agreement that you don’t fully understand. You might be unwittingly assuming responsibility for the accident or even giving up your right to sue later. Wait to sign anything until after you have consulted with an attorney yourself.
After an accident, you will probably be focused on getting better physically if you were injured. However, you should also consider the possible emotional ramifications, which might not be evident until later. If your life is drastically altered as a result of an injury, you might have emotional damages. Don’t assume that it’s too late to act—personal injury attorneys will know what the statute of limitations where you live.
After you’ve sought medical attention, it’s time to ask yourself, do I need a lawyer? If you’ve sustained an injury, you probably will need a lawyer. Personal injury lawyers can give you legal advice about what to do next. Many times, an insurance company won’t reimburse you fully for medical bills, lost wages, or other damages unless you have a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf or to represent you in court.
A car accident can be a traumatic event for anyone. You might suffer physical and emotional injuries as a result. These injuries can make it difficult to know what to do next. Follow these simple steps and then be sure to speak to a personal injury attorney to know your options.