If you have been injured in a car accident there are steps you should take to immediately protect your rights. You can maximize your auto accident injury related compensation by taking the following steps.
1. Make sure to immediately call police and report the accident. It is important to report the accident to police so on scene investigation is done. Michigan law requires all injury accident be reported to the police. The police will do a fresh scene investigation; interviewing the parties, independent witnesses; examine the evidence at scene of the accident; assess and inspect the vehicles involved, and provide a assessment of who is was at fault in the accident. A police report provides some important information for a claim and helps prove liability.
If you fail to report the accident to the police, immediately, the insurance company may claim you breached the insurance contract in some circumstances and deny your claim completely. The police report will prove the accident occurred, and the other driver cannot deny that the accident happened, making it easier to prove your claim. Do not drive away from an accident. Always call the police and make a police report immediately after the car accident.
2. Secure eyewitness information. If know of witnesses to your accident, you should obtain contact information, if you are able. Often times, independent witnesses will not stay at the scene of an accident until police arrive. Consequently, witnesses disappear by the time police arrive at the scene. In gathering important witness information, you will help police determine who was at fault.
In addition, in some cases, police do a poor job of investigating or documenting witnesses with enough detail to contact witnesses later. A police report may simply list a witness’ name without a phone number or other identifying information. If a witness has a common name like Bob Johnson, it may be impossible to find him later. In the event fault is in dispute, witnesses can help prove your case so please make sure you gather witness information at the scene of the accident if you are able to do so.
3. Seek out immediate medical treatment. If you feel you are injured as the result of a car accident, you should receive medical attention immediately. Don’t worry about medical bills and hope your pain will go away. Generally, you can cause more injury by failing to seek medical treatment, and the insurance company will usually argue that you were not hurt because you didn’t seek medical treatment. In denying or defending a claim, the insurance company will use this against you, even though you were hurt.
Unfortunately, the insurance companies will also try to claim that your injuries were caused by something else that occurred after the car accident, since you delayed in treating for the accident. It’s in your best interest to seek medical treatment for any injuries, immediately after your accident.
4. Describe your injuries in detail. Doctors and insurance company’s cannot read your mind so you must describe all of your symptoms and the location of your injuries to your treating physician. Your treating physician will be documenting in your records, the complaints and injuries you conveyed. They are not mind readers! Needless to say, your medical records will be relied upon by the insurance company to evaluate and process injury claim. If you claim something not reflected in the medical records, the insurance company’s adjuster will argue that your injury did not occur or is related to the car accident.
For example, a little pain or discomfort in a particular area of your body you may believe is not worth mentioning, but could worsen or progress over time and become serious injury. Therefore, if you fail to describe symptom or injuries to your body, you may have difficulty proving the relationship to your auto accident. You should not try to tough it out because it will not help your case. Please make sure you tell your medical provider about every part of your body injured and the symptoms you feel, even if minor. You should not assume your symptoms will get better or go away. Your proper documentation will go a long way to preserve your rights to compensation.
5. Get Comprehensive Diagnostic Tests. You should make sure receive all medically necessary diagnostic tests following an auto accident because the insurance company will heavily rely on the diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests can be MRI, Ct-Scan, X-rays, Ultrasound, or EMG studies etc. You should worry about medical expenses because usually they are covered by health insurance or no-fault auto insurance. Your main concern should be your health and making sure that any injuries you may have sustained are properly documented. You should always work with your doctors and follow the medical advice.
You should not let a doctor talk you out obtaining the proper diagnostic testing. You must be sure to receive the medically necessary tests that will allow your medical providers to diagnose your injuries and prove your injuries. You will also then receive the proper treatment to help resolve your injuries. Obviously, getting the diagnostic test closer to the time of your auto accident, will make it easier to connect the injuries to auto accident. You should know the insurance company will use delay or lack of diagnostic testing against you.
6. Caution giving any statements to any insurance company. You should be careful when you give a statement to any insurance company after an accident. In most case, the insurance adjuster will contact you to try to gather information to undermine your potential claim. The insurance adjuster has the insurance company’s best interests in mind and not yours. Do not fall into the trap believing the adjuster is on your side.
In the event that the at-fault driver is uninsured or has inadequate insurance to cover your injuries, then you will need to pursue a claim with your own insurance company if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Obviously, you and your insurance company have a direct conflict of interest. You are seeking payment of insurance benefits and your insurance company is trying to minimize payment to you. Needless to say, the insurance company is in the business of making money and/or maximize profits and its stock price for shareholders. Insurance companies make money primarily by collecting insurance premiums and paying little in claims as possible.
It is very common for an insurance company’s adjuster to contact the insured or the injured person right after a car accident to collect information about the claim. One reason they do this is because they know that the injured individual will not know enough about their injuries. The statement you give can be used against you later, if you make a claim for benefits or compensation for your injuries. As such, you should be prepared to give a full and complete statement regarding how the accident happened and/or the nature and extent of your injuries. You should notify your insurance company about the accident, but you should tell the adjuster you do not want to give any recorded statement until you have consulted your personal injury attorney.
7. Keep records detailing your accident, injuries, feelings, medical treatment and expenses. You should keep a record or diary of your feelings or events following an accident to help you remember. You record details regarding the how the accident happened, your disability, the pain and symptoms you feel, the names of medical providers that provided you treatment, any time missed from work, and any out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills and prescriptions. Your documentation will be helpful if your case requires a lawsuit, which may be one or two years after the time of the auto accident. You can see your record or diary keeping will come in handy to help refresh your recollection about details, which may become blurry or forget over time.
Naturally, your recollection of details following an accident will usually be clearer immediately following an accident, rather than two to three years later. You should write down all the details about the accident, including: date of the accident, how the collision happened, where you were going, location, weather conditions, direction of vehicles involved, the traffic conditions, any conversation you had with people at the scene, etc. You should photograph damage to the vehicles or scene of the accident. You should keep a record how your injuries affected your life such as work, sports, recreation or hobbies, as they apply to your particular case. You may want to include a description of your own pain, as experienced by you, the difficulty or inability to perform activities of daily living, and any help you receive from family or friends to get by from day to day.
Your personal injury attorney will need to provide the insurance company with a comprehensive set of medical records to support your injury claim. Your record keeping will help your attorney obtain your medical records, test results, and other information later. In Michigan, you can be compensated for any time miss from work and expenses for medical and rehabilitation treatment. You should keep records so you won’t have proving your case later.
8. Keep all medical appointments. Your medical appointment serve two purposes 1. Helps you get better and 2. Documents your injuries. You should keep your appointment for all prescribed medical treatment, physical therapy and testing following an injury accident. We know therapy and attending medical appointments can be time consuming and burdensome. But, the law requires you to mitigate your injuries (in other words do something to get better), and therefore you have an obligation to seek medical help to recover from your injuries and restore you to optimal health.
If you fail to attend prescribed medical appointments and complete all assigned physical therapy, the insurance company will argue that you are harming yourself or you were not injured. In other words, the insurance company will claim that you are increasing your injuries and any permanent side-effects by not following the advice of medical professionals. Your insurance company will look to reduce your compensation. Do not give the insurance company a way to attack your injury claim.
9. Hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Critically important, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you. One reason, your own attorney will have your best interests in mind and will fight to maximum your compensation for your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to provide you with guidance throughout the entire claims process. Your attorney will be able to assist you properly preserving evidence; gathering evidence; help settle your property damage claim; get your vehicle repaired; get money or coverage for any rental car; make sure medical providers are paid for your treatment; and maximize the amount of money you receive for your injuries, either through negotiations or by filing a lawsuit on your behalf. Your attorney can also help negotiate down any medical liens against your claim, so you receive more.
Do not try to represent yourself because you do not know the value of your case. Generally, an experienced personal injury attorney will get many times more compensation than you can representing yourself. Even though you will pay a contingency fee to your attorney, the amount you will be obtaining will be substantially higher than if you negotiated with the insurance company yourself. You should make sure you hire an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your car accident.
10. Don’t rush your claim or case. Your claim or case will take time to resolve because the nature and extent of your injuries will need to be known. You do not to resolve your claim or case prematurely. You will want to receive full and fair compensation for your injuries so how long your injury will last is very important. There is no set timeframe for the competition of a case, and much of the case will depend on the facts and circumstances of your claim. You should be prepared to for the process to take time and be patient with your attorney do his or her job.
Call us today at 866-447-3563 to learn more about your car accident rights from an experienced personal injury lawyer specializing in car accident injury claims.