The motor vehicle accident was not your fault, so you do not believe there is anything you need to do. A car accident happens in mere seconds, and it can be challenging to think about the legal ramifications or the financial strain that will shortly commence. You solely think about how you will get home and feel better.
Unfortunately, even in accidents where liability and responsibility are clear, there are several steps you need to take to protect yourself.
What you do after a car accident that is not your fault will enormously impact the success of your claim. All accident victims want to forget the accident happened and get back to their routine, which is impossible when medical treatment and property damage lingers.
Even if you make it out of the accident unscathed, there are still legal processes you need to handle. You will need to call a car accident lawyer to protect your rights.
Inform your insurance company
When you get home from the hospital or accident scene, there are some critical steps to start a successful claim. You should make a good faith attempt to contact the insurance company and inform them of the accident when you can. Your insurance company will investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident. In many insurance policies, it is a provision that drivers must inform the insurer when an accident happens. When a driver fails to notify the insurer, they can lose certain benefits.
You must inform the insurance company of the accident, but let your car accident attorney do so. Even though the insurer should work for you and your interests, they look at you like another number. While you were not at fault for the accident, either insurance company can find reasons to deny a claim if you give them too much information. If you make the call yourself, keep the details to a minimum.
Watch what you say and post online
The digital age has come with many technological advances, and one of these is communicating with friends and family using social media. While it is great that you can share every minute detail with your friends, there are some that you should keep to yourself. Once you hire an attorney after a car accident, you will need to minimize your social media usage.
Many car accident law firms will provide you with a social media warning. The insurance company is waiting for the slightest mention of the accident or your medical treatment to use it against you in your claim. The more you post online, the more evidence you give to the opposing party.
The insurance company is looking for a minor detail that will blow your case out of the water. In some cases, they will send a private investigator to follow you. If you claim it hurts to lift heavy items and a private investigator catches you lifting a small box, the insurance company will claim you lied.
If your doctor clears you for activities, do not comment online. Even if you do not post a photo, but your friends do, do not comment on their pictures saying how much fun you had the previous night. Think before you post, or do not post at all.
Write everything down
When people hear the term journal, their minds immediately go to high school movies where every character writes down their entire day. Journals are not just for angsty teenagers. Accident victims should keep a pain journal where they detail every minor inconvenience their injury has caused.
You can also write down doctors’ appointments and what the doctor says. Also, include how you feel emotionally. Within the journal, you can tell how you now require help to do simple tasks like cooking when you did not before.
If you have someone that helps you get around the house, write about it. No detail is too small to include in your journal. You can discuss your pain journal with your no-fault car accident attorney. The right attorney can leverage the information within your journal to help your claim. If the no-fault case goes to trial, they can even present it as evidence of how the accident has altered your life.
If some items seem too personal for the journal, let your lawyer know so they can submit a redacted journal as evidence. Introducing a journal into evidence will not occur in every case, but you cannot go back and detail your daily life when you decide to go to trial. You must write a journal in the movement, not a year later.
Create a file
Organizing is the key to success when it comes to car accident claims. Your local car accident lawyer will create a file within their office where all your accident documents will be secure. However, you should also create a file at home. This file will include medical expenses, receipts, photographs, etc.
Keeping copies of all of these documents helps build your injury claim. While many accident claims resolve within six months, others will go beyond this timeframe. When there are catastrophic injuries to consider, the claim can go for over a year and even make it to trial.
When your case goes to trial, your file will come in handy. It will show the opposing counsel and the court that you were in an accident that was not your fault and sustained substantial losses. While your attorney will work diligently to collect any relevant documentation for your claim, only you will know some items.
Suppose you spend money at the pharmacy for an over-the-counter medication; your attorney will have no way of knowing this or have access to that record. On the other hand, you do because you went to complete the transaction and placed the receipt in your case file.
There will be a significant influx of paperwork for your case. Several communications will come to your address, especially at the beginning of your claim, that you need to provide to your attorney. You can save a copy of these bills and medical documents in your file and send a copy to your attorney. Having multiple copies will help you know what is going on, and your attorney will have an accurate idea of how the accident continues to affect your life.
When you must take time off work, you will also need to include this in your file. If you had to take a day off for a medical procedure and lost income, you must include this within your demand package. You can even store all pay stubs to show the differences in pay when working full time and when you are not.
Follow doctor’s orders
One of the biggest concerns in a car accident claim is the medical expenses and treatment that a person incurs-one of the critical pieces of evidence to show how severe an injury is in medical records.
The only way to get medical treatment and forms is to visit a doctor. When you visit a doctor, they will accurately document everything they determine from examinations and your treatment progress. There will be various follow-up visits and physical therapy sessions.
During each session, the medical professionals will ask you where your pain level is. Answering these questions honestly allows your medical team to find the best treatment options for you. There are times when noninvasive treatments do not work, and you need more invasive treatment.
Injections and surgery are invasive options that many victims will need to use when they suffer a catastrophic injury. When you have gone to therapy for months and make no progress in walking again, your doctor will recommend spinal injections. The last resort for any medical professional is to recommend surgery. Surgery is very invasive and requires the person to undergo a long recovery process.
The only time this is recommended is when you exhaust all other options. Your medical records will show that you are in dire need of this surgery to reach maximum medical improvement. Following your doctor’s order is crucial to getting the best treatment possible and getting on the right track to recovery.
Evaluate your vehicle damage
You must go to an insurance-approved repair shop for your vehicle repairs. The insurance company will send out an appraiser to examine your vehicle and determine how much damage it has. They will then write down an estimate of what they think your property damage is worth. The repair shop will also inspect the vehicle and determine if additional damage or repairs are needed. They will send their findings to the insurance company, which will approve or deny these facts.
The insurance company can also send the appraiser back to the repair shop to verify that the repairs are necessary for your claim. When everyone agrees, you can sign off on the repairs. Some insurance companies will pay for a rental car when your vehicle is under repair.
Before any of this happens, if the vehicle is movable, you can contact an appraiser yourself. You have the right to take your car to a local repair shop and get an estimate for your damages. Do not repair any part of your vehicle independently. The insurance company can use this against you and deny the property damage portion of your claim.
It is also great to have your repair estimate, so you have a comparison against what the insurance company finds. The insurance company will issue a payment for the car’s actual cash value when it is a total loss.
However, there are unique cases where this will not apply, such as when you are still making payments on the vehicle. The insurance company will issue the check for the total loss to the lien holder. Discuss these options with your car accident attorney, as several policy provisions can prevent you from a successful claim.
All insurance policies will have a deductible. When you are not at fault for the accident, the other party’s insurance company will pay the deductible if necessary. If you wish to speed up the claim process, you can pay the deductible and collect reimbursement at a later date. However, the best way to have a successful claim is to wait until your no-fault car accident attorney secures you the compensation you deserve.
Call a car accident lawyer
Your insurance policy and the other driver’s insurance policy will be the baseline for your claim. Since this is a critical factor for your claim, make sure you understand all of the provisions and legal issues of the policy. If you have any concerns about your insurance policy, talk to a car accident lawyer.
While you must cooperate with the insurance adjuster, that does not mean you have to fall for their tactics. Communicating with any insurance adjuster can be a slippery slope to claim denial. Allow a lawyer to handle all communications with the insurance adjuster, even for your insurance company.
You might suffer a catastrophic injury that changes your life forever. Some injuries will take time to appear, and you must not suffer in silence. When you were not at fault for the accident, you should not have the responsibility of paying for your damages. You must hold the other party liable for the lifelong damages to you and your family. A no-fault car accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation, communicate and negotiate with the insurance company and represent you throughout the entire process.
Lawyers have invaluable access to resources that the average person does not. They can hire expert witnesses and other professionals that will help show the insurance company that you require compensation for your injuries and damage.
You need to focus on your recovery and hire a lawyer you trust.