A car, truck or motorcycle crash is a traumatic event. Victims are rarely thinking about how to protect legal claims when they are in the middle of such an event. It is not long, however, before injury victims realize that medical and household bills are accumulating, that insurance adjusters are calling and that they need help from an experienced personal injury accident attorney. Here are some of the questions most often asked by clients in the hours and days following a car crash.
What are the first things I should do after a crash?
First, if you are able, call 911 to report the crash. Wait for law enforcement to arrive and give a brief statement about what happened. It’s also a good idea to the names and phone numbers of witnesses. The police often note the name of an eyewitness, but rarely include contact information on the crash report.
Seek medical care if you feel any pain or discomfort. If you are not in immediate pain or discomfort, but you begin to experience problems later, get medical attention as soon as you experience symptoms. Muscle and tendon injuries often do not fully surface for hours or even days after the accident. You should carefully follow your doctor’s advice. Most importantly, doing so will assure that you make the fullest recovery possible. In addition, if you fail to follow medical advice, the insurance company and its defense attorneys will argue that your injuries would have been less severe if you had followed your doctor’s instructions.
Should I give a statement?
If you’ve been in a car crash that was someone else’s fault, the other driver’s insurance company will probably try to obtain a recorded or written statement from you. You should consider carefully whether to submit to a recorded interview or prepare a written statement. If you do, any inconsistencies between what you say in that interview or statement and what you said in reports to the police, doctors, your own insurance company or in subsequent testimony if the case goes to court, will be exploited and used against you, even if it relates to a seemingly unimportant matter. Instead, call an experienced attorney, and give the attorney a statement knowing that what you discuss will be strictly confidential.
How can I preserve evidence?
As soon as possible, if you are able (and if not, a friend or relative can do this for you) it is helpful to take pictures of the damage to both vehicles, the scene of the accident including any skid marks or other signs of the crash, as well as photos of any obvious injuries, such as bruises, cuts, etc. Skid marks disappear, roads change, cars are repaired and visible injuries fade, as do memories. Furthermore, photographs can be very helpful in conveying the force of impact and the extent of your injuries in a way that words cannot. You should do this even if you or someone else already took pictures at the time the crash occurred. Those photos were taken in a rush, under stress. Photographs taken later are often much better.
You should also carefully follow your doctor’s instructions. The obvious reason is so that you will make the best recovery possible, but following doctor’s orders also goes far to support your claim for compensation should you decide to bring one. Failure to follow doctors orders will come back to haunt you when the insurance company points out that the extent of your injuries is your own fault and would not be so bad if you had only done what your doctor told you.
Should I call a lawyer?
Recovering fair compensation takes knowledge of the law and experience in communicating and negotiating with insurance companies and their lawyers, not to mention courtroom skills should your case go to court. An experienced injury lawyer will carefully view your case and be able to provide the best advice for your situation.
Is there a deadline to take action?
The most common deadline for car accident cases does not expire until six years after the crash. However, there are exceptions, and in certain situations, the deadline to take action may be as short as six months. That is why it is important to consult an attorney with knowledge and experience, who will not only know the general rules, but the exceptions to the rules, and even the exceptions to the exceptions.