What to Do After a Car Accident

February 5, 2024 |
What to Do After a Car Accident

After a car accident, what you do can have a big impact on your legal rights and your chances of getting fair compensation. Besides taking care of your immediate needs at the scene, you also need to follow some key steps in the days and weeks after the accident to protect your claim.

Here’s what you need to know and do once you're past the initial stages of a car accident. Contact our expert car accident lawyer for swift assistance and maximum compensation.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Seeking medical attention immediately after a car accident is an often overlooked step, not just for your health but also for the strength of any potential personal injury claim. 

The primary reason to seek medical attention immediately after a car accident is, of course, your health. Injuries sustained in car accidents, particularly those involving the neck, back, or head, can be deceptive. They might not show immediate symptoms but can gradually evolve into serious, long-lasting conditions. A medical professional can identify these injuries early on, ensuring timely and appropriate treatment, which can significantly improve your recovery prospects.

From a legal standpoint, seeking immediate medical attention creates an official record of your injuries. This documentation provides concrete evidence that the injuries were directly related to the accident, establishing a link between the incident and your medical condition.

Medical records serve as a foundation in the context of a personal injury claim. They provide a detailed account of your injuries, the treatment prescribed, and the prognosis.

This documentation can validate the extent of your injuries and the impact they have on your life. It includes the initial diagnosis, follow-up treatments, physical therapy sessions, and any other ongoing medical needs.

Blonde woman in distress calls for help after car crash, showing damaged vehicle. Outdoor scene.

Delaying or forgoing immediate medical attention can have serious implications for your personal injury claim. If there is a significant gap between the accident and when you first seek medical treatment, insurance companies or opposing legal counsel might argue that your injuries were not serious or were not a result of the accident. This skepticism can weaken your claim.

In the absence of an immediate medical evaluation, it becomes challenging to prove that any later medical issues are directly attributable to the accident. Insurance companies may contend that these issues could be unrelated pre-existing conditions or the result of another incident.

In legal proceedings, defense attorneys can use delays in medical treatment to question the legitimacy of the injury claims. They might suggest that if the injury were genuinely severe, immediate medical attention would have been sought. This argument can sway the perception of the claim's validity, impacting the outcome of legal proceedings.

Document Everything

Start gathering and organizing documentation related to the accident.

This includes:

  • Medical records and bills: Keep detailed records of all medical treatments, diagnoses, and expenses.
  • Repair estimates and receipts: Document the damage to your vehicle and the cost of repairs.
  • Income loss evidence: If the accident has impacted your ability to work, maintain records of lost wages and other impacts on your income.

Documenting these details can help establish the extent of your damages and losses, which is a large component of your claim.

Be Mindful of Communication With Insurance Companies

Insurance agent handling claim payments. Customer reviews report form after car accident. Insurance and claim process concept.

Insurance companies, even your own, operate as businesses. Their primary objective is often to minimize payouts and protect their bottom line. While they provide a necessary service, their interests may not always align with yours, especially when it comes to compensating for your losses.

Soon after an accident, it's likely that you'll be contacted by insurance adjusters. These representatives are skilled at gathering information that could be used to reduce the value of your claim. They may seem friendly and empathetic, but their ultimate goal is to gather information that benefits the insurance company.

Common tactics used by insurance companies to devalue or deny your claim include: 

  • Quick Settlement Offers: One common tactic is the presentation of an early settlement offer. These offers might seem appealing, especially when facing medical bills and lost wages. However, they often do not reflect the full value of your claim, especially if the full extent of your injuries and their impact on your life are not yet known.
  • Requesting Recorded Statements: Adjusters may ask for a recorded statement under the guise of simply "getting your side of the story." However, these statements can be used to find inconsistencies or admissions that could devalue your claim.
  • Downplaying Injuries: Insurance adjusters might attempt to minimize the severity of your injuries or suggest that they were pre-existing conditions. This can significantly impact the amount of compensation you receive.

Without legal representation, you may find yourself at a disadvantage. You might accept a settlement that falls short of covering your total expenses, or you might inadvertently compromise your claim through miscommunication. Without legal guidance, it’s easy to become lost in the process.

Keep a Personal Journal

Consider keeping a personal journal detailing your recovery process. Note down any pain, discomfort, or challenges in daily activities and how the accident has affected your mental and emotional well-being. This personal account can be a powerful tool in demonstrating the impact of the accident on your life.

Avoid Discussing the Accident on Social Media

In today’s digital age, sharing aspects of our lives on social media is common. However, when it comes to a car accident, it’s best to be cautious about what you post.

Insurance companies and legal teams might review your social media profiles for any evidence that could impact your claim. Even seemingly innocent posts can be misinterpreted and used against you. It's wise to limit your social media activity regarding the accident or avoid discussing it online altogether.

Understand the Statute of Limitations

Be aware of the legal time limits for filing a claim, known as the statute of limitations. This timeframe varies by state and type of claim, and missing this deadline can bar you from seeking compensation. Your lawyer can inform you about these time limits and ensure that all necessary legal actions are taken promptly.

If your case proceeds to legal action, be prepared for the process. This may involve providing testimony, attending depositions, and other legal procedures. Your lawyer will guide you through these steps, preparing you for what to expect and how to participate effectively.

Stay Involved and Informed

Stay engaged with your legal case. Regularly communicate with your lawyer, ask questions, and stay informed about the status of your claim. Being proactive and involved can help you feel more in control of the situation and can contribute to a more favorable outcome.

Focus on Your Recovery

While taking these steps to protect your claim, don’t forget the importance of your physical and emotional recovery. Follow your doctor’s advice, attend all medical appointments, and give yourself time to heal. 

Empower Yourself Post-Accident

Andrew L. Hope, Personal Injury Lawyer
Car Accident Lawyer, Andrew L. Hope

Taking these steps can significantly impact the success of your claim. Remember, you don’t have to go through this process alone. Seeking the right legal support can ease the burden and help ensure that your rights and interests are fully represented and protected. Empower yourself with knowledge, support, and the right legal assistance from personal injury attorneys to handle this challenging time effectively.