15 Aug 2015
When you are involved in a car accident, you are often times in a state of shock. While in that state of shock, very important decisions must be made. The least of which is protecting yourself for the ultimate process of making a claim against the other driver's insurance.
If you are involved in a very serious accident which requires you to be hauled off to the Emergency Room via Ambulance, you are not always able to handle this process the way in which it's broken down below. You should still remember these steps, to protect yourself as much as possible.
Get out of your car and evaluate the damage done to your vehicle and properly document such damages with pictures, if possible. Locate any witnesses that are nearby, getting their telephone number and name. Get the other driver's insurance information and any statements made by them. If you can get their statement recorded, perfect, if not remember their statements as best as possible. Any admission of fault by the other driver would be critical to making a liability determination (Insurance Company acknowledging they have to pay for damages, if any). It's not uncommon for the driver to admit to their wrongdoings when it's only you two around and totally change their story once the police make it to the scene or when they contact their insurance company.
Call the police and report the accident. It's critical to get the police out to the scene and have an official police report drafted. While the police did not actually witness the accident himself, he's able to asses the damages, take statements from the drivers and available witnesses and get the insurance information from both parties.
This is very important for several reasons. When an accident report is done, it's typically very soon after the accident. The cars are often still arranged as the accident occurred, which can show who caused the accident. Furthermore, it allows the documentation of any statements as to what happened which is credible due to the fact that everything is still fresh. By the time trial comes, if ever, it's years removed and we tend to forget things as time goes by. It allows you to document any injuries you are experiencing which would be in the police report.
If you are able to get a police report, which includes the insurance information of the other driver, contact numbers, description of the accident, and injuries, it will go a long way in helping your ultimate claim against the insurance company. Again, it's not uncommon for folks to tell the insurance company a totally different story than what happened and what they originally told you. If you can have some documentation of what actually happened, you can have liability on your side, which is the first step to getting the insurance company to pay you for your damages.
Seek medical attention. When the adrenaline from the accident is going through your blood, you don't usually feel the injuries you have suffered. It's also not unusual to initially not feel any pain or discomfort immediately following the accident. However, the body is not totally something when understand. Doctors are able to diagnosis injuries and perform test upon you to determine if there's any injuries that you are suffering from.
It's also important to seek medical attention very shortly after the accident because it helps prove an essential element to recovery, causation. If you are involved in an accident today, yet don't seek medical attention until three months have gone by, when the insurance company ultimately get those medical reports, which they will require before handing over any significant amount of money, they will contest the connection of those injuries to the accident. The reason the insurance company contest such connection is understandable. Just like you were involved in this accident, within those three months, you could have been involved in another accident, maybe even one of your own fault. You could have also been injured on the job, hurt while playing with your children, or while playing recreational sports.
In order to make sure that any injuries you suffered as a cause to this accident, you need to seek medical treatment and have those injuries documented. If you seek medical attention early and in the future you experience an injury that you didn't previously report, your doctor will be able to explain why the injury happened and connect it to the accident. It's much tougher for them to do that when the first time they visited with you, it was months after the accident.
A common question one has as it relates to seeking medical treatment is, would I have to pay?The simple answer is...it depends. If the insurance company accepts liability or fault, they will be required to pay for ANY AND ALL reasonable medical treatment. The insurance company won't have to pay these bills until the case is resolved, but the doctors will know how to work through this process when you have been involved in an accident.
Even if you don't have medical insurance, the Emergency Room will not turn you down. If you do not feel the need for Emergency Room treatment, but would love to see a doctor, either Primary Care Physician, or someone else, contacting an Attorney can generally help you achieve that goal. Contact an experienced Personal Injury Attorney, like myself, and we can get you the help you deserve.
You should initiate a claim against the other insurance company for your property, including your automobile and any other property damages in the vehicle. Most attorneys do not handle Property Claims, but are more than willing to assist in any way possible to make the insurance company pay, we included.
The insurance company usually like to expedite their claims, especially as it relates to bodily injury. If you have been injured, or if it's been too soon after the accident to really know what injures you have encountered, DO NOT allow the insurance company to pay for medical bills or any pain and suffering. When the insurance company is appearing like Mr. Nice Guy and offering to pay, what comes with that is a letter to release them and their insured from any future responsibility. If you have been asked about your injuries or been offered any sum of money for damages, SEEK A COMPETENT PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY, most offer Free Consultations, including myself.
You do not want to settle quickly with the insurance company for a couple hundred or even thousand of dollars, only to face expensive future medical bills that will deplete that and more. You should seek an attorney who can maximize your potential payout, while also protecting your best interest. The insurance company is never doing right by you. If they are making a determination, you can be sure it's for the best interest of their insurance company, even if it's your insurance company.
Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney. Often times, consultation are free of charge, we offer that. Even if you ultimately decide to handle your claim yourself, which I highly advise against especially with serious injuries, you can get some important information on how to handle your claim from that attorney. It doesn't cost you anything, yet provides you with a plethora of information.
If you are injured, you should not attempt to take on the insurance company by yourself. The cost of a Personal Injury Attorney is totally dependent on recovery. If the lawyer is unable to recover any money, you don't pay a dime and the lawyer receives nothing. On the other hand, if the lawyer is able to recover a sum of money, payment is usually on a contingent basis, typically ranging from 33% to 40% in this area. Even if that sounds like a lot to you, I can almost guarantee you that your ultimate payout will be a multiple of what you would receive if you handle the case on your own.
There's a ton of important things that should be done to assure that you have a favorable outcome following an accident. If you follow the steps previously mentioned, you can be sure that you will get the most from your accident that is allowed.
Even if you were unable to follow all of the steps, you should never settle a case without speaking with a lawyer at some point. It doesn't cost you anything, but could mean more money in your pocket.
If you have been involved in an accident, you are entitled to the damages done to your property, medical bills, loss of wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, mental anguish and any other damage you suffer due to the accident. While money can't fix those things, it's what Louisiana has deemed proper. You pay premiums every month to the insurance company. The other driver likewise pays premiums. When something happens, make them do what they should do, pay out. We can make them pay out, so the next time you have been involved in an accident, reach out to us so that we can help you.