Car accidents happen suddenly and without warning. Your world is turned upside down in the blink of an eye. If you have been injured in a car accident, the following steps can help you legitimize and prove your claim, ultimately positioning your case for maximum recovery.
- Seek medical attention immediately. Prompt medical care is imperative to your personal well being, as well as the well being of any potential personal injury claim you may have. Information provided by your medical provider will be essential to your claim, and is often used in court. Be honest about your injuries and medical history and don’t be tempted to either inflate or conceal the severity of harm.
- Get the Police Report. This is an important step. In an auto accident, the police report will provide name, address, insurance, and potential witness information and may contain documentation concerning liability. You should request a copy of this report for your files.
- Notify insurance companies but be wary of their tactics. Insurance providers often require prompt insurance notification as stipulated by policy guidelines. We encourage you to comply with this directive, notifying all insurance companies involved; but also warn you to be cautious of their tactics. Insurance companies will often pressure victims into quick settlement, before the full extent of their injuries is realized. Be cautious and review all materials before agreeing upon settlement. Educate yourself on insurance tactics, or trust a lawyer to protect your interests.
- Consult with an attorney as soon as possible. It is a good idea to seek professional advice from an attorney before deciding upon how to proceed. Personal injury consultations are free and cases are usually based upon contingency if you retain an attorney. Putting your case in the hands of an experienced attorney will greatly improve your chances for a successful recovery.
- Follow your doctor’s orders, in other words be the perfect patient! Continued medical follow-up is just as important as the initial consultation and care immediately after an accident. Follow your doctor’s orders exactly, and keep him or her informed of any pain, adverse reactions, complications, or limitations you may experience concerning your injuries. Keep all medical appointments related to your care, including therapy appointments and be open and honest about your medical history and level of pain and scope of disabilities. This will add credibility to your case.
- Keep all documentation. It’s critical to keep an inventory of the expenses you incur as a result of your injury. This allows you to quantify the extent of damages. You may also want to maintain a calendar to record appointment dates, bills received, mileage, prescriptions filled, etc. Precise documentation regarding lost wages will also be required. Create a file for expenses or forward pertinent information to your legal defense team if you have one.
- Personally document or journal the chronology of your care and expense. Recording your accident and recovery process through a personal journal is invaluable to your claim. Begin with an account of the accident itself, and continue to chronicle your experience including as much detail as possible. The claims process can take time, and memories may fade. A journal will not only help you recall events if eventual testimony is needed, it will help you more accurately develop your claim.
- Photograph or save evidence related to your case. Physical evidence such as photographs, broken pieces of your car, or the brace you received at the hospital, will add value to your case, often adding more impact than mere words. In the case of personal injury, periodic photographic documentation of initial injury and the recovery process can help prove damages as well as the extent of pain and suffering or debility to judge and jury. Photographs also detail personal property damage and provide accident reconstruction information for any automobile accident.
- Keep your attorney informed of information pertaining to your claim. Communicate openly and honestly with your attorney throughout the claims process. It’s necessary to inform him/her of all information relevant to your accident in addition to any pre-existing injuries or prior lawsuits that may exist. Forward copies of all correspondence associated with your case, such as insurance communications, workmen’s compensation or social security paperwork, as well as medical bills, or other expenses related to damage or recovery. Keep your lawyer informed of any changes in your medical condition or care, work status, or change in residence. It is critical that your attorney have this information to successfully maximize your recovery.
- Do not engage in behavior or actions that could potentially jeopardize your case. It’s important to remember that insurance companies, employers, or other defendants are going to be looking for ways to minimize or entirely refute your claim. This is why the above listed advice is so important to protect and advance your case. One additional word of advice? Keep the details of your personal injury private and away from social networking or online sites.
Personal injury cases are often complex and time consuming; and unfortunately the burden of proof falls upon the victim or their family, at a time when recovery is of utmost importance. For these reasons, it is usually best to retain an attorney to help ensure you receive just compensation for your claim. Contact Briggs & Wholey for a free assessment of your Maine car accident case. We’ll be honest with you about your claim and the process involved. We hope our advice helps you, or your family, recover for your loss.