Involved in a Car Accident? Sustained an injury?
Being the victim of a car accident is a complex and difficult situation. Not only must you address any emotional and physical injuries caused by the accident — as well as the potentially significant financial burden associated with those injuries — but you must also deal with an insurance company who has little interest in how the outcome affects your well being. Understanding when you should connect with a personal injury lawyer to help process your claim can be the difference in receiving a fair car accident settlement and limiting the emotional stress of a drawn out engagement with an insurance company.
Should I Contact a Lawyer for a Car Accident Injury?
After a car accident, it may be difficult to determine if the case can be handled through the insurance company, or if it requires the legal expertise of a personal injury lawyer. To help evaluate the need for an injury lawyer, see if you answer “yes” to any of the following questions:
- Did a serious injury that required hospitalization or surgery occur?
- Did a permanent injury such as paralysis or amputation occur?
- Did the car accident involve pedestrians or multiple cars?
- Did the accident occur in a construction area?
- Is there a dispute as to who is at fault for the car accident?
- Does the police report inaccurately reflect how the car accident occurred and put you at fault?
- Are you uninsured, or has your insurance company stated you were delinquent on your last premium payment?
- Is the insurance company giving you trouble, or have they involved their own lawyers on your case?
Note that if a car accident led to death, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Pictures of the car accident scene — If possible, take pictures of the car accident scene – including all vehicles involved – your injuries and damage to your car.
Seek medical treatment for injuries — After being in a car accident, even if injuries are not immediately apparent, you should seek prompt medical attention. This helps identify any conditions, such as whiplash and soft tissue injuries, that may not become symptomatic until sometime after the accident. Equally important, it also helps assure that any injuries sustained can be associated directly with the car accident.
Document medical expenses — If you are going to file a claim, which typically occurs after an injury-related car accident, make sure to document all of the medical expenses associated with the treatment of your injuries. Expenses to document include medical bills, prescription costs and insurance co-pays. It may even be possible to get reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses related to medical care for your car accident injuries. The more documentation the better when it comes to reimbursement.
Review your insurance coverage — After the car accident, make sure and review your insurance policy, including the exclusions section, so you have a clear understanding of your coverage. It is also useful to check for additional coverage under other insurance policies, such as homeowner and “umbrella” policies.
Document conversations with the insurance company — When interacting with insurance company representatives, take down names, phone numbers and job titles of the people with which you speak. Also make note of call times, subject matter and important information during phone calls.
Request medical records — Medical records provide a significant amount of information that may be important for a car accident injury lawsuit. Obtain copies for reference, or have a lawyer help you.
Keep records of all accident-related items — After a car accident injury, it is important to document the accident, injuries and other related conversations, paperwork and expenses. Maintaining records and keeping everything organized is useful for any claims or lawsuits that result.
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