What To Do If You Are Injured in a Car Accident
What To Do Immediately
- Take care of your injuries and get medical care.
- Take pictures of wounds, bandages, bruises, casts, hospital room and other evidence of injury.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and anything that may possibly be relevant.
- Gather the name, address, license number and phone number of all witnesses.
Car accident injuries can be painful and expensive to treat - regardless of whether they have been classified as minor, moderate or serious. Rarely are accidents caused by the deliberate actions of another. Most often, car accidents are caused by someone else's negligence.
Injured victims of car accidents not only undergo physical trauma after a car accident, but such an incident can also be emotionally taxing and drain a family financially. If you have been injured in a car accident, you are looking at medical expenses, wages lost as a result of taking time off work to recover, cost of hospitalization, treatment, and rehabilitation. In major accidents, there is the question of whether the victim may be able to return to work or suffer permanent injuries or disabilities.
What To Do Next
- Charge all medical expenses to whatever medical insurance coverage you have.
- Write down your symptoms and what you are feeling each day.
- Avoid tow-yard storage fees by getting your car as quickly as you can.
- If you are too injured to work, tell your employer and document time off work.
- Open a claim with the other driver's insurance company.
- Do not speak to insurance adjusters or give any statements (other than to the police) until you talk with a lawyer.
- Do not sign any liens or releases of information without talking to an attorney.
Types of Car Accident Injuries
The nature and severity of the injuries suffered in a car accident usually depend on the intensity of the crash. Some of the most common injuries sustained in a car accident include:
- Head injuries: This may include brain injuries, concussions or contusions that could result in memory issues, seizures or loss of consciousness. The extent of the injury depends on its location and severity.
- Back and neck injuries: The impact of a car accident and the resulting torque on the bodies of the vehicle's occupants can cause sprains, strains, fractures, disc injuries and spinal injuries. In the case of neck injuries such as whiplash, the symptoms may not even surface until after several days.
- Facial injuries: These injuries range in severity from scrapes and scratches to jaw and dental fractures.
- Internal injuries: In severe car accidents, internal organs may become damaged.
- Psychological injuries: Victims of car accidents could suffer serious psychological problems including depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Should I Seek Medical Treatment?
Many car accident injuries are obvious right away. However, some injuries may not be apparent. Some victims are dazed and confused immediately after a crash and may not realize that they are hurt. Some injuries or symptoms may not surface for days or weeks after an accident. This is why it is critical that you seek medical attention for the injuries you suspect you have and also get a precautionary examination for injuries that may not be as obvious.
What You Should Know about Your Insurance Coverage
It is important that every driver knows and understands what type of auto insurance he or she has and what is covered in the event of an accident. While liability insurance covers the others who may be injured by your negligence, there are several clauses in an insurance policy that apply if you have been injured:
Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This pays your medical bills and lost earnings, up to a certain limit. This coverage applies regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Just because you make use of PIP, you auto insurance premiums should not go up. Although PIP compensates the injured for medical bills and lost wages, claims cannot be made for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, inconvenience or loss of life's enjoyment.
Bodily Injury Liability: If you have been injured by someone else's negligence, that party's Bodily Injury Liability coverage should compensate you for all losses sustained as a result of your injuries. This usually covers all economic and non-economic damages.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This is coverage you buy to cover yourself and your passengers if you are injured by a driver who has no auto insurance or who does not have sufficient coverage to fully compensate you for your losses.
How Should I Document the Evidence?
The importance of documenting and preserving the evidence cannot be overlooked if you have been hurt in a car accident. Failing to document and preserve evidence is often the biggest mistake car accident victims make. Here are a few important pointers on what you can do to bolster your personal injury claim:
- Write down notes from the accident scene including location, time and the circumstances when everything is still fresh in your memory
- Take good photographs of the scene and make sure they are kept in a safe place.
- Report all medical symptoms to your medical providers.
- Take photos of any visible injuries
- Keep tracks of work days missed.
- Maintain a journal of your symptoms and their impact on your everyday life.
- Maintain a log of your doctor office visits
- Keep a log of your physical therapy appointments
- Itemize all your expenses
Contacting an Attorney
If you have been hurt in a car accident, you should know that the insurance company is not likely to offer you a fair and comprehensive settlement. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations that spend billions of dollars hiring well-trained adjusters, investigators and defense lawyers who will work to minimize the payout in these types of claims. They are definitely going to look out for their best interests. Who is looking out for your best interests? Who is making sure that you get fairly and fully compensated for all your losses? Anyone who has been hurt in a car accident would benefit from a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer who will thoroughly and honestly evaluate the case.
Helpful Auto Accident Resources
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