It’s one of the most common thing that injury attorneys hear when dealing with auto accident claims: I wish I knew what I needed to know before I ever got into a wreck.
When you are injured in a car accident, the insurance companies who are responsible for paying for your damage obviously work to pay you as little as they can get away with. If they were excited about writing large checks, they wouldn’t be in business for long. While this might be the first auto accident claim you’ve ever filed, the insurance company you’re working with has spent decades with thousands of claims just like yours, just fine-tuning the tricks up their sleeves. Your attorneys can do a lot to fight on your behalf, but following these tips gives them a lot more ammo to work with:
Four Things All Attorneys Wish Their Clients Did Immediately Following a Car Accident
- Admit nothing.
If a wreck is 99% the other driver’s fault, and 1% your fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance has grounds to fight paying you the money that you deserve. In the moments immediately after the accident, it’s human nature to want to comfort the other people involved in the wreck. Statements like, “I didn’t see you coming.” or “It’s hard to see in this rain.” can go on to haunt you. After getting into a wreck, it’s okay to check on the other drivers to ensure they are not injured, but its not your job or the other drivers job to speculate about who is to blame for the accident. Get their insurance information, and call the cops. Say nothing else.
- Collect as much information as you can.
Attorneys love having a lot of evidence to fight for on your behalf. At the scene of the accident, there is a mine field of evidence. Once you leave, much of it is gone forever. If you are able to, take lots of pictures at the scene. Take pictures of your car, the other driver’s car. The weather conditions. Tire marks on the road. Any other factors that contributed to your wreck. At the same time, collect contact information from any potential witnesses. Remember, if people who are critical to the details of the accident leave the scene without you having their information, it will be next to impossible to track them down later. The more information you have, the better.
- Take care of yourself.
Getting medical care for you injuries immediately after the wreck isn’t just important for your own well being. This establishes immediate evidence that links your injury to the events of the accident (see previous point), and it also show that you’ve done everything in your power to minimize the extent of the injury.
Let’s say that you felt okay immediately after the wreck, so you drive yourself home and get about your business. A few days later, once the shock of the events wears off, you start to feel really achy. Neck and spine injuries are extremely common in even minor car accidents, and often not evident until days later. Well now, not only is it difficult to connect the pain you’re feeling to the wreck, but the responsible insurance company can claim that your injury was made worse because you neglected to seek reasonable care, and so you are in-part responsible for it.
- Stay on top of documentation.
In addition to taking detailed records of the actually scene of the accident, stay on top of as much documentation as you are able to after the fact. Take the time to write down everything you can remember right after the wreck; many times, pertinent details will become fuzzy as time goes by. Keep records of medical appointments you attend. Keep records of any expenses you incur as a result of the accident. There is no amount of documentation that your lawyer won’t appreciate.
While we’re on the subject, reserve any communications regarding the accident to email, so that there is a paper trail to the exact information being given. And once you’ve obtained an attorney, do not correspond with the insurance company without your lawyer at all.
Do you have tips for handling an accident? Please share in the comment section below.