Most accidents are minor, or at least they may seem minor at first. Post-accident, adrenaline is high and one may not experience the immediate onset of symptoms as the property damage is being assessed, insurance companies are being notified and the investigating officer is taking statements and assessing who is at-fault for the accident. When an accident happens, the force of the crash can cause people to become banged around or violently whiplashed, whether by a rear end, side impact or front end collision. The result can be soreness pain and great discomfort due to swelling, bruising, and stiffness. Auto accidents have been known to cause traumatic brain injuries, however, the symptoms may not be easily recognized.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Injuries that seem minor may cause long-term problems. Never take minor aches or pains after an accident lightly. It’s important to get checked out by a healthcare provider. To qualify for your full Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance benefits, you must be seen by a medical doctor who confirms you have an emergency medical condition which requires treatment within 14 days of the accident. Otherwise, your PIP benefits could be greatly reduced – potentially from $10,000 to $2,500. Warning: Chiropractic treatment does not qualify as being seen by a medical doctor.
If your accident results in a personal injury claim or litigation, it is important that your medical records clearly document your injuries and treatment. Failure to immediately seek treatment and document your injuries could greatly diminish your claim’s value. If treatment is delayed, the defendant may argue that it was not his or her negligent conduct that caused your injury, but rather something that occurred between the time of the accident and your visit to the doctor. Further, if you have pre-existing injuries which have been aggravated by the accident, it is extremely important to make sure any doctors you see document that you had a previous injury and that the condition has been aggravated.
Document the Accident
Determining who is at fault in an accident is important. If available, obtain a copy of the accident report from the investigating officer. A police report will often aid in establishing who is at fault for the accident, the names and contact information of witnesses, weather and road conditions and insurance coverage information.
If possible obtain, photos of vehicles involved – especially your vehicle and the vehicle that hit yours – as well as statements from witnesses, including their contact information. Often witnesses do not provide statements, or the investigating officer does not get them or even identify witnesses. In the haste of the moment, it may not be possible for you to do so either. However, if you take photos of the license plates of the witnesses’ vehicles, they can be located later if needed. If you do take photographs of the witnesses’ license plate, you should still respectfully request that the investigating officer document the names and contact information for any potential witnesses.
To help you if are involved in an accident, we created the following checklist:
AVOID A SECOND ACCIDENT
Remain Calm. Stop Safely. Turn emergency lights on. Watch for oncoming traffic.
CALLS TO MAKE
Call the police, call your insurance carrier.
Ask witnesses for their complete address and contact information.
PROVIDE CONTACT INFORMATION
Exchange insurance and contact information with the other drivers.
STICK TO THE FACTS
Let the facts speak for themselves.
Tell the investigating officer just what happened.
If your injuries permit, use your cell phone or camera to take photos of:
All four sides of each vehicle.
Close-up shots of damaged areas.
People, passengers and witnesses.
License plates including witness vehicles.
Skid marks and debris.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Don’t post about your accident on social media.
Do not admit fault.
Do not speak to the other driver’s insurance company until you speak to an attorney.
Do not accept payment from the other driver’s insurance company until you speak to an attorney.
A printable version for you to keep in your glove box can be found here.
We Want to Help
If you are in an accident, we want to help you through the claims process. Our experienced attorneys and staff can investigate your accident and shepherd you through the medical treatment and insurance claims process, and, if necessary, a lawsuit.
Many automobile accident victims and their loved ones face burdensome medical bills, unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, and lost income. These losses can only be properly compensated with the representation of a qualified automobile accident attorney. Sadly, some injuries can cause a lifetime of problems and care.
If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident, consider contacting us. Our experienced attorneys will evaluate your case free of charge. You will not pay attorney fees or costs unless your attorney recovers money for you through a settlement or judgment. When considering legal representation, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in product liability cases, who has the experience and resources to vigorously pursue justice on your behalf. Consider contacting our case manager, U.S. Navy veteran Joseph Jones, LT, USN (LDO Law) Retired for a free consultation.