No one wants to be involved in a motor vehicle accident, but if you find yourself in that situation, it is imperative that you know what can help and what can hurt your case. The rules on the following list may seem silly or trivial, but they have strengthened former injury claims that stem from a motor vehicle accident. If you are injured due to another person’s careless driving, you have a right to receive fair compensation. In order to receive that fair compensation, you must protect your injury claim in every way possible.
Call the police immediately after the accident.
If you are physically able to, call the police as soon as possible after an accident. Police officers handle motor vehicle accidents every day and will ensure you obtain all of the information you need before you and the other party or parties leave the scene of the accident. The police will establish a police report after interviewing all parties involved as well as witnesses. They will outline the facts of the loss and usually are able to determine who was at fault for the accident. This report is the first piece of evidence needed for a strong injury claim.
Collect information at the scene of the accident.
After calling the police, it is important to document as much information as possible about the other party or parties involved as well as record any damages at the scene. Many people fail to get the contact information and insurance information for the other parties, which delays the process of establishing claims. Often when this happens, we see clients having to wait longer to get repairs on their vehicle and go unnecessary days without a rental vehicle. A quick and easy way to get all of the information you need is to take a picture of their driver’s license and insurance card. It is also important to take pictures of your vehicle and the other vehicles involved. If you have immediate visual injuries, taking photos of those as well aid in documenting what occurred. Photos are vital pieces of evidence to help your case.
Do not communicate with insurance companies, even yours.
It is not an insurance company’s number one priority to pay a fair settlement; their number one priority is themselves. Their goal is to pay the minimal amount possible to settle injury claims so that they can protect their bottom line. Any statements you make to the insurance companies can be manipulated for their benefit, no matter how innocent you think that statement may be. Make sure to decline any recorded statements and to not sign anything prior to speaking with an attorney. Hiring a personal injury attorney helps you make informed decisions as well as communicate to the adjuster on your behalf. Your attorney will establish your claim and provide documentation to the insurance company so that you do not have to.
Avoid posting information about your accident to social media.
Anything you post to social media can also be used by insurance companies against you in your claim. If you were to post statements or details about the incident or your treatment, an insurance company could potentially use your details in their favor. They could also access your social media to find posts showing you doing physical activities that could devalue the seriousness of your injury. Minimizing your social medial presence adds an extra layer of protection to your claim.
Seek treatment immediately after an accident or as soon as you begin to notice your injuries.
Sometimes it is obviously clear after an accident that you need to seek emergency care. However, sometimes it can take hours or even a day or two before you begin to feel your injuries. Victims in motor vehicle crashes tend to experience muscle spasms, whiplash, or even concussions. These injuries can have delayed symptoms, so these victims may not experience them at the scene of the incident. Regardless if your injuries are present at the scene or apparent a few hours later, it is crucial that you get your injuries diagnosed and treated. Your visit to the emergency room, urgent care, or primary care physician will be the first documented diagnoses in your claim. This record will show that your injuries are a direct result from the incident. Your medical records are the most significant pieces of evidence you can present to the insurance company.
Follow the advice by your treating providers.
Your treaters have your best interests in mind and want you to recover as quickly as possible. If your treating doctors suggest you avoid certain activities or suggest home-based exercises, make sure to comply to the best of your ability. Your doctors will follow up with you and will note in your medical records how well you are following their instructions.
Attend all of your medical appointments, per the treatment plan.
Going weeks without appointments can delay your recovery. Follow your treatment plan by making and attending all appointments suggested by your doctors. As previously stated, the quality of your medical records directly affects how strong your evidence in your claim. Insurance adjusters will comb through these records in an attempt to find ways to downplay the extent of your injuries. Gaps in treatment and non-compliance with treatment plans are exactly what insurance companies look for in order to offe
Communicate with your attorney.
Your attorney’s job is to aggressively represent you in your injury claim. In order for an attorney to do this effectively, they must know all of the details surrounding your injury. Being open and honest with your attorney with details such as preexisting chronic pain, former accidents, or details about how the accident occurred helps them find the weak links in your case and prepare to build your case around them. It is also imperative that you communicate any issues with your treatment. If your attorney doesn’t know that you are struggling to get to and from your appointments or that your treatment isn’t working, they won’t be able to step in and find a solution. Also, any new phone numbers or changes of address need to be relayed to your attorney as soon as possible, in case they would need to contact you for any reason.
Be patient when it comes to reaching a settlement for your case.
Before any settlement negotiations can begin, you must reach your maximum medical improvement, meaning that any further treatment will not change how your body feels now. You either have either made a full recovery and no longer need treatment, or with permanent injuries, any future treatment for your injuries only help maintain it, not treat it further. Aside from your treatment and medical records, your attorney also must have adequate time to obtain other evidence for your case. Ordering records and reports, such as 911 audio recordings to report the crash can take weeks or months to receive. Insurance companies push to settle claims quickly in an attempt to minimize the amount of compelling evidence you have for your case.
Protect your claim before you are even involved in a car crash.
All too often we see cases in which there are extremely serious injuries and minimum insurance coverage. In Missouri, the minimum insurance coverage limits are $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per accident. For example, let’s say an at-fault vehicle carried these limits and negligently t-boned a vehicle with a driver and 4 passengers. All five occupants of the struck vehicle needed to be taken to the hospital via ambulance and are diagnosed with moderate to severe injuries, like disc herniations or torn ligaments. In this scenario, the five victims would be forced to share $50,000.00 for the payment of their treatment in addition to payment their pain and suffering. There simply is just not enough money available to fairly distribute to each party. To avoid a scenario like this, you can purchase additional insurance to add to your own auto policy. Coverages for underinsured motorists or medical payments would help supplement to the total amount of funds available for settlement. These coverages are optional to add on to any policy and are usually very affordable. Paying a little extra each month could protect you in any future claims you may need to file.
We all hope we never have to deal with the ramifications from another person’s carless decisions while driving. The overwhelming stress of being involved in a crash can be eased by hiring an experienced attorney to fight on your behalf. These rules also aim to help relieve even more of that stress while concurrently help protect your personal injury claim. You deserve a fair settlement after suffering from someone else’s negligence.