You've been in an accident.
What should you do next?
Accidents often have short-term effects (ex. missing work) and long-term effects (ex. ongoing medical care). If the accident wasn't your fault, an insurance company should compensate you for these consequences, but you need to take steps to protect your rights.
Below are 4 steps that may help, but click here if you want to contact a NC car accident lawyer right now, or call us at 1-866-900-7078. Your initial case evaluation is free.
1) Medical Care - Be Thorough With Your Doctor
It's natural to feel scared after an accident - especially if you've experienced serious bodily damage. While it may be difficult to focus on the minor injuries, reporting every scratch, cut, and ache to your doctor will make sure every injury is documented and help ensure that your rights are protected.
Warning: Not reporting an injury right away could lead to serious complications in your case.
For example: let's say you have a broken leg and a sore shoulder after an accident. You know that soreness after an accident is somewhat normal, so you don't mention the shoulder to your doctor. However, weeks later, it's just getting worse. You find out it's a torn rotator cuff and you need surgery.
But when you send the surgery bill to your insurance company, they balk. Since you didn't report the injury right away, they argue that it wasn't a result of the accident and say that they won't pay it. (If this happens, please contact a NC car crash attorney right away).
Reporting every injury you see or feel is essential to try to make sure that you do not end up paying the price for someone else's negligence.
It is also important to get consistent treatment for all of your injuries until they are fully healed. Frequent visits allow the doctor and insurance company to have a detailed history of your resulting medical problems and expenses.
2) Collect and Save Evidence From Day One
After years of experience, we can say that you never know what shred of evidence can end up supporting your claim.
Photos, clothing, paper, and other seemingly mundane materials could be important to building your case. The best rule is to just keep everything. If in doubt, ask your attorney.
For example: one of the most important pieces of evidence could be the clothes you wore on the day of the accident - particularly if you were bleeding or thrown from the vehicle. Therefore, it is important to keep them and not to wash them in order to preserve their integrity.
Keep a record of all medical appointments, examination records, bills, and pictures of injuries. Be meticulous about how you manage all this material. With respect to your car, have someone take and keep pictures of vehicle damage, any other property damage, skid marks, and/or street signs. Keep witnesses' names and telephone numbers. Record the weather on the day of the accident. All of this information could eventually play an important role in building your case.
As soon as you're able, write down everything you can remember about what happened - or dictate the details to a loved one. Thorough documentation is incredibly important!
3) Keep an Accident Journal
One of the best ways to keep a record of everything is to start an accident journal. These journals can contain whatever information you find relevant, but most importantly they become a personal timeline of your experience that you can share with your attorney to help build a stronger case. Additionally, since these cases can sometimes last for years, starting a journal immediately means you will have something to look back on to refresh your recollection of how you were feeling shortly after the accident, when you are questioned about it.
What to include in your accident journal:
- Name/contact information of anyone you speak to regarding your case (police officers, insurance adjustors, doctors, etc.)
- When you spoke to them
- Notes of your conversations and anything you think could be relevant
Bonus tip #1 (speaking with your insurance agent): Although we strongly recommend you speak with an attorney before talking with an insurance agent, if you find yourself in a position where you have to speak with them, this video may help you prepare.
4) Get a Professional Opinion - At No Cost
We've been doing this for many years. We've seen how insurance companies might seem sweet and accommodating up front, but as the bills add up, they may not be as accommodating as they were in the beginning. You should know:
It is very likely that an insurance company - whether the at-fault driver's or your own - may offer to pay you far less than what you may deserve for your injuries and damages. Don't sign anything or agree to a settlement without an attorney on your side reviewing the offer to ensure you aren't losing rights, compensation or benefits.
Many personal injury attorneys will review your claim for free.
Bonus tip #2 (hiring an attorney): If you think you may want an attorney, hire one early. If they work on contingency, it won't cost you any more than it would if you waited and they can help keep you from making inadvertent mistakes that may hurt your case.
Secondly, when you choose an attorney, we recommend you find one who has successfully represented people in car crashes like yours in court - just in case you need to take your case that far, and so the insurance company knows they're willing to go there.
If you want the opinion or advice of an experienced NC car accident lawyer, please call us at 1-866-900-7078. We'll try to answer any questions you have, and there is no obligation to hire us afterward.