Make sure all persons involved are medically stable.
The most important thing to do after an accident is to make sure all persons involved are medically stable. Call 911 immediately for anyone you suspect needs medical attention. Do not attempt to move any person who is unconscious or experiencing pain, unless you must due to an imminent hazard.
Contact the authorities and file a police report.
Even if the other driver does not want you to call the police, call them anyway. A police report will document how the accident happened and facilitate the exchange of information between drivers. It can also become an asset to your settlement negotiations or litigation later on and may help expedite the process.
Seek medical treatment and at a minimum get a thorough examination.
Sometimes injuries are not immediately apparent after an accident, with symptoms occurring up to weeks later. Should you develop symptoms later, they could be dismissed by the insurance company as unrelated to the accident if you did not see a doctor right away. Take pictures of any visible injuries and document how you are feeling.
Determine how the accident occurred. Obtain as much information as possible about the collision, the other drivers, and any witnesses.
Personal injury claims following an accident will likely involve claim adjusters and attorneys. Unfortunately, these individuals will not have been present when an accident took place so any and all information about the accident will be important as both sides negotiate a settlement. Holes in the story may lead to unsuccessful claim negotiations or reduced settlements.
Witnesses can prove invaluable when building a personal injury claim. They can often describe the events leading up to an accident, how an accident occurred, and what took place immediately following a collision. A witness may be able to support a victim’s version of events or may be able to indicate how the other driver was at-fault.
Put your own insurance company on notice.
You will need to call your insurance company to let them know of the accident as soon as reasonably possible. We recommend staying factual with the accident information such as providing the date, time, location, and persons involved. It’s usually best to talk with your attorney before making any assumptions about fault or discussing other issues around the crash at this time. This is particularly true if you are going to be providing a recorded statement.
Track your losses. Ask your employer to record lost wages and benefits.
If you miss work because of an accident, you may be eligible for lost wages and benefits to be reimbursed by the insurance company. A record of these losses from your employer can be used to document the amount you should be reimbursed. You may also be eligible for lost earning capacity, such as long term disability. Take detailed notes and keep receipts of your accident related expenses such as prescriptions, co-pays, travel expenses, etc. Keep a journal to document pain levels, medical care, quality of life, inconveniences, etc.
Do not sign anything or give recorded statements.
You may weaken or lose a potential case by signing something you do not understand or naively giving a statement that can be used against you later. Be aware that claim adjusters may ask you leading questions or phrase things in a way to prompt responses that will not be in your best interest.
Paperwork may have fine print to include a number of things that can weaken your position or waive compensation altogether. You should only sign documents under the advisement of your attorney.
Be wary of all insurance companies, no matter how helpful the insurance adjuster may seem.
The insurance adjuster’s goal is to pay as little as possible or find a way to deny your claim altogether. Even if you are offered a settlement that seems fair, you may be eligible for and deserve much more. Settling your case too quickly may mean missing out on future medical bills should your injuries persist or worsen later. You may unknowingly lose your rights to other types of coverage as well by settling your claim too early.
When speaking with an insurance adjuster, be aware that they will try to get you to let your guard down and make unintended admissions. Make any conversation strictly factual and business-like in tone. Do not offer opinions or editorialize in any way. Do not discuss your personal life or circumstances.
Only discuss your case with authorities, your attorneys, medical personnel, your insurance company and trusted private parties (your spouse or significant other).
If anyone else asks you about your accident, it is best to tell them that you cannot discuss it. You should also know that the insurance company will be looking at your social media profiles and postings and anything they can see may be used against you. Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know. Do not post pictures of the accident, comment about your claim or discuss your injuries or recovery.