After an accident occurs, the victim is usually frazzled and might even be a bit disoriented. However, the critical moment following an accident, if handled properly, will safeguard the value of your case and could lead to a higher settlement than otherwise. This is a list of 8 factors in sequential order that really matter in safeguarding the settlement value of your personal injury claim:
Obtain a Police Report – Generally, a police report is not required to prove your case however the presence of a police report strengthens your case given it represents at a minimum, an official documentation that an accident occurred and mentions the parties to the accident and how it occurred. If the police declined to respond to your accident, which sometimes happens in fender bender cases or in busy urban areas, go to the station and file your own report to document the accident.
Do Not Admit Fault – Especially in Maryland, a State that recognizes the legal theory of contributory negligence as a total defense to escape personal injury liability, the last thing you want to do is admit any sort of guilt to anyone. That single error (in Maryland) may suffice to seriously compromise your case and kill off any chances of success. Don’t speculate about how the accident occurred or who was responsible for the crash. If you admit fault to the police, the insurance company, or even the other driver, the insurance company could use this admission against you down the road.
Remember to Take Pictures – Given the proliferation of smartphones, I am always surprised when clients tell me that they did not remember to take any pictures of both cars at the scene of the accident. This is a key piece of evidence that will work in your favor to obtain a desirable outcome in dealing with the insurance company. In addition, take pictures of your injuries, the road conditions, and the weather.
Interview Witnesses – If there are any witnesses at the scene of the accident, you should talk to them to find out what they saw or at a minimum, try to obtain their contact information so you can talk to them later.
Contact an Attorney – At this point, your next step is to get in touch with a lawyer. A lawyer is experienced in performing a legal assessment on the value of your case and stepping forward as the driver of the negotiation process or litigation aspect of your case should it come to that. Insurance companies are too massive with seemingly limitless resources at their disposal and of course, they don’t have your interest at hand. Therefore, protect yourself by consulting with a lawyer as quickly as possible after the accident.
See a Doctor and Keep Appointments– Sometimes after an accident, you will not feel much pain, however, doctors will be the first to tell you that many injuries don’t immediately show symptoms after auto accidents. Protect your health by seeing an emergency room physician or your family doctor as soon as possible after an accident. Seeing a doctor right away is also important for any personal injury claim you may have, as your chances of obtaining full compensation are better if you begin documenting your injuries right after the crash occurs. It is also important to attend all follow-up appointments and to follow through with any specialists your doctor recommends. When you skip or cancel appointments, the insurance company will likely try to use this to argue that perhaps you weren’t as seriously injured as you were asserting.
Don’t Trust The Insurance Company – It’s important to notify your insurance company of the crash right away, but you should not accept any settlement offers without first discussing your case with an attorney. Insurance companies are in business to minimize the value of your claim, not pay you the full and fair value of your claim.
Keep Good Records – One simple tip is to keep a daily journal to document everything related to your accident especially the days you experience pain and the duration and severity of the pains. After a car accident, it’s important to keep track of all doctors’ visits, prescription expenses, and anything else related to the accident. Your lawyer will use this documentation to help establish the damages involved in your case. Keep track of everything, however insignificant it seems.
If you have been injured in a car accident, and need additional information, please call us today at (301) 453-7177.