What To Do After You Are Involved In A Car Accident?
If you have unfortunately been injured in a car accident your life is going to be markedly different for the foreseeable future. You will likely be taken to the emergency room via ambulance, be evaluated by emergency room physicians including radiologists, and have to deal with the aftermath of the collision which includes notifying the insurance carriers. What you do or don’t do at this stage in the process is very important.
You now live in a world where you are injured, confused, worried about your family, and need help. Compounding these issues is the fact that someone else is responsible for your injuries and you unfortunately now have legitimate legal claims that you need to contemplate. Once a tragedy has occurred there is often a “let’s hope for the best” optimism that can lead to poorly educated decisions. As they say, “you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube” or “take the cream out of the coffee” and it is imperative that you make smart decisions from the outset of your unfortunate situation.
The first thing people often do after being discharged from the emergency room is call their insurance carrier, report the collision, and give a statement concerning the “facts of loss”- a colloquial term used by insurance companies. Or worse, they call the insurance carrier of the person who hit them and begin chatting with them about what happened. Both of these, in our opinion, are necessary actions that need to occur BUT not with you on the other end of the phone. In this business, nothing is ever straight forward, simple, transparent, or otherwise easy. From the beginning, the insurance carriers want to pin down your statement regarding how the collision occurred. If they can’t harm you at that juncture, because maybe you were completely stopped and rear ended at a light, they will then inquire about your injuries, treatment, prior medical history, whether you have car insurance, health insurance, employment, how much money you earn, whether you have missed work, and the list goes on. They also do not tell you why they are asking all of these invasive questions, but trust us when we say they think they have a good reason. They ask all of these questions in the very first phone call with injured people because they are not represented by counsel and will voluntarily provide them with information the insurance companies are not legally entitled to, and sometimes even information it is illegal for them to request. The worst thing you can do at this stage is to choose to not call an attorney and go it alone. We offer entirely free consultations to give you the necessary information for you to make an educated decision for yourself. Simply ask us all of your questions about your case and we will think together about how best to proceed.
The next issue people face is how to address their property damages, notifying their employer of the collision, and where to go for further medical treatment. Regarding property damage, you should be paid the amount of money it takes for you the replace the vehicle involved in the collision in your geographic market. Do some research of your own (or we can for you) and contact dealerships, review Kelly Blue Book pricing, and other used car retailers to be sure the amount is fair. If your property damage claim is being handled by the at fault person’s insurance carrier and you think they are being unreasonable, ask your own insurance carrier to evaluate the damage and see where they come in. It never hurts to ask, and the other carrier may even waive your deductible. Lastly, be up front and honest with your employer about what you are going through. Make sure they understand your physical limitations, are provided with appropriate physician notes concerning your ability to work, and don’t overdo it and make your injuries worse. Insurance companies will hold it against you if you are performing physical work while injured, even if it’s to make sure you don’t lose your job.
Lastly, it is critical that you receive appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible after your collision AND that you follow your physician’s instructions regarding activities and follow up treatment. They have your best health in mind and want you to get back to normal as soon as possible – so help them help you get better and follow through.
This experience is going to be a lengthy one and there are many pitfalls you need to avoid in order to obtain a fair outcome for your case. As local Denver-area personal injury attorneys, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have over a cup of coffee and help you get back on track.