What To Do After An Auto Accident

Injured Victims Sometimes Cause Additional Hurt To Themselves By Failing To Do The Following:

  • Contact the police as soon as possible and make sure a report is prepared.
  • If you are in pain tell the police you are injured. Many cases are lost because when asked, the victim who may be suffering from mild pain or shock tells the police officer he or she is not injured. At trial, the police officer then testifies that the victim said he or she was not injured.
  • If you are injured get medical treatment right away. Whether an ambulance takes you to a hospital or you drive yourself to the emergency room, getting medical treatment or even a medical evaluation can be critical to your health and your claim. In addition, many injuries are not readily apparent, so when a nurse or health care professional asks you what hurts, be sure to tell them every part of the body that hurts you so that later, if it turns out that the little ache in your shoulder requires surgery you have made a record that it was hurt in the wreck.
  • If you are not in pain at the scene of the accident, but develop pain later, seek medical attention immediately. Defense attorneys love standing in front of jurors and arguing, "If you are hurt you get medical attention. Mr. Jones waited two weeks before seeing his doctor and he now wants you to believe he was hurt." Nothing is more important to your health or to your claim than having each injury properly documented so it can be diagnosed and treated.
  • Sometimes the pain does not develop until later in the day or even the day after the wreck. If you find that you are in pain later, seek medical attention from a licensed medical provider.

Over The Following Days:

  • Follow your doctor's orders. If the emergency room doctor instructs you to follow up with your own doctor, follow up with your own doctor. Once again, while pain sometimes goes away on its own, oftentimes it masks a more serious underlying injury. A quick and correct diagnosis is important for your health and any legal issues that may arise. If your doctor refers you to another doctor see him right away, if medication is prescribed, buy it and use it, and if physical therapy is prescribed, go regularly. Every unfilled prescription or missed appointment strengthens the argument of those who claim you were not injured as bad as you say.
  • Speak to your doctor about only your medical condition. Speak to your lawyer about your claim. It is in your best interest to allow your professionals to focus on their own areas of expertise.
  • Do not talk to the other driver's insurance company; do not give them a statement about the accident. Tell them instead to talk with their own insured since he was at fault and can best explain how he caused the accident. Insurance adjusters are professionals trained to obtain favorable information to aid their insured's case and damage yours. Do not be fooled by TV commercials telling you this company provides good hands or that company is like a neighbor. Insurance companies exist to make money for themselves. The less they pay in claims the larger the profit for their company. It is a myth that the insurance company of the driver who is at fault has an obligation to pay damages to those whose property has been damaged or have suffered personal injury. Remember, an insurance company has an obligation only to those it insures. It has no obligation to anyone hurt or damaged because of the recklessness or fault of someone it insures.
  • Do report the accident to your auto insurance company. Feel free to give them a statement since in most cases it is privileged. If you have insurance to pay for damage to your car use it to get your car repaired. Your insurance company, unlike the other driver's, is contractually obligated to take care of you. They will repair your vehicle quicker and with less hassle than the defendant's insurance company and your insurance company will work quickly to obtain reimbursement from the other company and return your deductible to you.
  • If you have medical payments coverage on your automobile policy, try to use those funds to pay your deductibles and co-pays and use your health insurance as the primary source for payment of your bills. If you can do this, you will pay no money out of your pocket to cover your medical bills. This, however, is sometimes not possible. You may even find your auto and health insurance companies fighting over who should pay your bills or which policy should be used first.
  • If you have health insurance, use it to pay your medical bills. The other driver's insurance will not pay your bills as they are incurred — EVER. Even if you are made the vague promise that "we will take care of everything," you will quickly find out they will not pay bills you send to them. Instead, submit your bills to your health insurance carrier. A delay in payment of your bills can quickly result in bill collectors calling you and your credit score decreasing. In addition, paid medical bills are easier to get into evidence before a jury and help convince the other insurance company that your bills are for reasonable and necessary treatment for your injuries.
  • If your car is severely damaged, get photographs of the damage.
  • If you or a loved one is hospitalized as a result of injuries, take one or two photographs of the injuries in the hospital and, if there are severe bruising or lacerations take a photograph or two showing them.
  • Contact Mark Maritote. If your injuries are too severe to call yourself, have your spouse or family member call 630-352-4345 or toll free at 866-402-0174.
  • Get well. Everything you have done thus far and everything you will do establish the basis for you to recover your health and ensure you recover physically and economically from your injury and loss. The best result you can obtain is a return to your original good health. Everything else is secondary.