Posted on September 14th, 2018 by Zane Cagle
Planning for a Crash Does Not Mean You are Increasing Your Chances for a Crash
Motor vehicle crashes make up 90% of our law practice, so I talk with dozens of people every day who have been in crashes. Statistically, you are more likely to be involved in a car crash (hopefully just a fender-bender) in your lifetime than a house fire. Yet, we all have a fire evacuation plans. Likewise, you should have a plan or emergency list of things to do following a motor vehicle crash. Some things are obvious- If you are critically injured in a car crash, then you are in an ambulance and can do nothing at the scene.
In reality, many people are in crashes where they don’t have to leave immediately by ambulance. When I speak with victims later, they always tell me they felt completely unprepared for such an incident. That is kind of the point of an unexpected incident. It’s frightening and no one is every fully prepared for a crash. There are some things you can know in advance to make the experience a bit less scary.
Knowing the steps to follow after a non-life threatening car crash is not “planning on being in a crash”, but having a checklist is a way to have a sense of calm by knowing what you should do in the event that one occurs.
Some Easy Steps:
- Call 911. As soon as your car stops, call the police. You never know the severity of injuries of the other people involved, so call immediately. It might be life-saving. Always call the police so the crash is documented. Failure to call the police is a huge mistake as the other driver may give you false information or later try to deny the crash ever occurred. Also, law enforcement will want to secure the scene and prevent others from hitting you. Calling authorities make everyone safer.
- Seek Immediate Medical Help— Getting hurt never happens at a “convenient time”. Don’t put off going to the emergency room or your primary care doctor as soon as possible. No matter how badly you are hurt, if you don’t see a doctor, then you may not even be hurt according to an insurance company. Plus! The primary goal is for you to get better, and usually the best way to do that is to get medical help as soon as possible!
- Call the Insurance Companies–If you are on medication (as many people are after a crash), do not give a statement. And, do not talk about your injuries to any adjusters. You should never discuss your injuries in the first few weeks or month with the insurance adjuster. You and your doctors should know what is wrong with you and how best to treat your condition BEFORE you talk to any insurance adjuster about your injury. So, when calling the adjuster, just discuss the facts about your property damage. Consult an attorney before giving statements and talking about your injuries.
- Do Not Overshare with the Insurance Company. So many people feel that the more information they share, then the more fair the insurance company will be with them on their property damage and their bodily injury. This is not true. You oversharing is not building a case. Often, it has the opposite effect. I’m not saying insurance adjusters are bad people, but they are not very good at evaluating your actual bodily injuries as they are not doctors. Again, just the initial facts. Don’t share your health insurance information or names of any doctors you have seen.
- Do Not Sign Any Medical Authorizations– Do not sign any medical authorizations from the auto insurance companies in the beginning. Do not do it. Wait until you know (doctors know) what is wrong with you and how you are going to heal before beginning to discuss your injuries
- Property Damage-You have some rights. If your car is repairable, you have a right to choose where you get the car repaired if it is no totaled. Meaning, you can require that it be done at an authorized dealership.
- Call an attorney immediately. Daily I tell people the important steps to AVOID making a claim and explain ways an attorney can make a different–if they are hurt.
If You Are Hurt, You Need an Attorney
Daily, I walk people through the facts of their crash including their injuries. Some people don’t need attorneys and I’m happy to let them know if they don’t need us. I’m thrilled if someone is not actually hurt as a result of a car crash! I would much rather someone not be hurt as have a huge bodily injury claim. People that have big bodily injury claims are hurt and they suffer through much medical treatment. See our Five Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident.
If you are hurt, things get complicated fast. If you’re hurt, you are generally struggling to get to work or may be out of work completely. If you are injured, bills are coming in and it worrisome. In all of the years of representing victims of car crashes, there is one consistent feeling every single person has–the fear of the unknown. It’s a valid concern. We all are wary of the unknown but when are physical well-being is in the balance, the unknown is far more scary.
Everything is unknown after a car accident. You don’t know exactly how long it is going to take you to heal. Often, your doctors are not sure of the exact amount of time and that may be after several months of trying to effectively diagnose and treat your condition. Granted, no one knows the future (or we would all know the numbers to select when playing the lottery), but we help clients through that stage. My clients tell me that when they know we are handling the legal aspect of their claim and putting them first, then they have some relief to concentrate on their medical treatment, families and lives.
Call an Attorney Sooner than Later
Personally, I feel bad having those conversations with individuals who settled with an insurance company in the first week and then discovered they needed a lot more treatment. Or, they failed to do any of the first steps and are running into a difficult adjuster but they neglected to go to the doctor immediately and address their pain. These are the most common negative scenarios I encounter. The sooner we get involved with your case, the better we are able to assist.
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