On average, drivers have just 2-3 accidents per million vehicle miles driven. That means that the average driver may not get into car accidents all that often – and may have even fewer serious car accidents, including those involving severe injury.
What should you do to protect yourself after a car accident? Start by reporting the accident and collecting evidence if you can. Make medical attention your first priority, even if you feel you did not suffer serious injury in the accident. Of course, working with a lawyer can help maximize the odds that you will recover the compensation you deserve.
Always Report the Car Accident to the Local Police Department
A call to 911 will both allow you to bring the police to the scene of the accident and make it easier for you to get an ambulance and immediate medical care, if you need one.
When the police arrive, make sure you offer an accurate assessment of what led to the accident. Do not accept liability or brush off the other driver’s contributions to the accident.
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Collect Evidence from the Scene of the Car Accident
If you can safely move around the scene of the accident – that is, moving around the accident scene neither puts you in danger of a further collision nor worsens your injuries in any way – you may want to collect some evidence from the accident scene. First, you should make sure to collect information about the driver that caused the accident: his license, insurance information, and license plate as well as the make and model of his vehicle. Next, you may want to collect contact information from any witnesses.
Finally, you may want to take a few photos of the accident scene, which can serve to help you recreate the accident later. You may want photos of:
- The damage to your vehicle
- The damage to the other driver’s vehicle
- The position of your vehicles (before you move them)
- Your injuries
- Any features of the area that you feel might have contributed to the accident (poor visibility because a bush blocked the road, for example)
During the investigation into your car accident, lawyers and insurance agents cannot go back to the scene of the accident. They can, however, use those photos to get a better idea of exactly what led to the accident.
Get Medical Care
Some people’s eyes skip right over this step as they manage the aftermath of a car accident. You may assume that you suffered only minor injuries. Going to the hospital or even an urgent care center will just mean more expenses and more time out of your day.
Ignoring your medical needs after an accident, however, could cause your injuries to worsen in severity. Walking around on a broken leg or a fractured ankle, for example, could result in increased recovery time, need for surgery, or even, in some cases, permanent disability. Other injuries, including internal bleeding, could result in death if you do not receive adequate medical attention.
A doctor can make sure that you get the treatment you need for any injuries that you sustained in the accident, decreasing the odds that you will later have increased complications from those injuries.
Furthermore, a medical report serves another vital purpose: it establishes when your injuries took place and, as a result, that you deserve compensation from the other driver involved in the car accident.
Follow Your Care Plan
If you do suffer serious injuries in an auto accident, make sure that you carefully follow your care plan. Do not ignore instructions given by your doctor, whether your doctor recommends not bearing weight on an injured limb until several weeks after your accident or your doctor indicates that you should receive a certain type of treatment.
If you ignore your care plan, it could result in more serious injury. Since your own actions worsened those injuries, you may struggle to seek the compensation you deserve from the other driver’s insurance company.
Keep Up With Medical Bills
After your car accident, keep a record of all of your medical bills. If you suffer severe injuries, it can prove very difficult to keep up with all the bills you have seen come through. Start a record soon after your accident, and keep all of those bills in one easily-accessible location. That way, when you need to file a claim, you can easily put together all the medical bills you have faced due to your accident.
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Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Often, working with a car accident attorney can help you recover the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Sometimes, dealing with serious injury claims can prove difficult to manage on your own. A car accident lawyer, however, can help you navigate those complex claims and figure out your next steps.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Manage a Car Accident Claim?
You do not necessarily need a lawyer to handle every type of car accident claim. In many cases, particularly those that involve only property damage, you can handle your claim on your own. However, there are several cases in which you may find that you need a car accident lawyer to help you handle your claim.
- You suffered injuries in the car accident. If you suffered any type of injury, it can prove much more difficult to claim compensation for your medical bills and injuries.
- The insurance company attempts to dispute liability, including assigning you partial liability for the accident. If you accept even partial liability, it could limit the compensation you can recover.
- The insurance company tries to deny the extent of your injuries.
- The insurance company tries to delay payment for your claim.
Any time you have questions about your rights following a serious car accident, a lawyer can help answer those questions, which may make your life easier. If you suffered injuries in a car accident or you need help pursuing your claim, contact a personal injury lawyer today to learn more about your right to compensation.
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