If you have been involved in an auto accident (or been injured for any other reason because someone else was not careful in whatever they were doing), you have a legal right to receive compensation for your damages. You can receive compensation for you pain and suffering, mental suffering, lost wages, medical bills, etc. Therefore, it is important to know some basic information about what you should do if you are involved in an auto accident.
If you have been involved in an auto accident or been injured for any other reason, there are three things you should do immediately:
1) Hire a lawyer: There is a common misconception that lawyers “don’t do anything” or that “you are better off on your own than having an attorney”, or “you will save money if you don’t get an attorney”, etc. While we recognize that some lawyers are not very good, it is the same as any other profession, there are good ones and bad ones. For the most part having a lawyer, specifically in a car accident case will be beneficial to you for several reasons: A) most insurance companies will try to convince you not to get a lawyer because they know they will be able to pay you much less than you deserve, and you will probably accept. Without a lawyer, most individuals involved in a car accident will be happy just having their medical bills paid. But remember, as mentioned above, your damages are much more than just getting the medical bills covered. B) Further, a lawyer can mostly reduce most of your medical bills which allows for MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKETS. Lastly, C) while you get these benefits, you will not have to pay anything to your lawyer in a car accident case until the case is settled. Most lawyers charge a contingency fee of 1/3rd of your settlement and the good lawyers almost never take more than what you will get paid, even if that means taking a reduction on their 1/3rd This arrangement is called a “contingency fee” arrangement used in most accident claims.
2) Call the police and make an accident report. I know many times when there is an accident, it is so minor that people avoid calling the police because they either don’t want to wait, they don’t like the police, or just think they can handle it on their own. Another reason why some people may avoid calling the police in an accident is because the at fault driver is cooperative and accepting responsibility. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF NOT CALLING THE POLICE AFTER AN ACCIDENT. Even though you may believe a police report is not necessary, it is always best to call the police and make an accident report. It’s important that a accident investigation is conducted and the police makes a report to have a 3rd set of eyes on your potential claim. Also, if the other party was at fault, they may get a driving citation which will significantly help you in your insurance claim. Further, you would be surprised how many people give false information regarding their insurance or identification if the police isn’t there and how many people change their story of what happened. I have personally made this mistake before where I was rear ended and felt bad for the woman in the car and her two little kids as they had no AC and it was an extremely hot Summer day in Houston. I didn’t call the police and next you I know she told the insurance company I revered into her car on the freeway.
3) Take pictures and information from the scene of the accident (including the information of any witnesses). When people are involved in an accident, they are mostly in a state of shock specially if the accident is bad. But remember it is very important that you have photos of the accident. This will not only make you insurance claim stronger, but it also helps the police in doing their investigation. ALWAYS TAKE PICTURES.
4) Seek medical help. Remember to seek medical help immediately or soon after. Although you may think nothing is wrong with you, you may be wrong as you never know the impact an accident caused your body until you get looked at by a professional. An accident can cause long lasting pain and damage that you may not become aware of until it’s too late. IT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING TO SEEK MEDICAL HELP. If you hire a lawyer, generally you do not have to pay the doctor until you receive a settlement. Also, if you wait too long until you seek treatment, you may damage your insurance claim as insurance companies see it as if you didn’t really need the treatment if you could wait that long. While they are wrong, it does not stop them from arguing this, so don’t hurt your case.
If you’ve had a personal injury that’s affected your health or your finances, you’re entitled to make a claim for compensation.