What To Do After a Car Accident
Statistics make it clear that driving a car in America can be life-threatening.
Car crashes are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States, with approximately 30,000 people losing their lives each year in traffic accidents.
In addition another 2 million people are injured in America every year from automobile accidents, which means about 5,500 people were be injured in a car accident today.
We have put together an in depth article on what to do after being involved in a car accident (as a passenger or driver) and hopefully this information will help answer any questions that you might have.
Car accidents (and especially fatal car accidents) are mostly avoidable and are usually due to human error.
Plan ahead and be prepared in case you get into a car accident. If you need immediate help you can call us for Free consultation at 866-598-5548.
14 Steps To Take After Being in a Car Accident
- Stop Immediately
- Secure the Scene
- Call the police
- Take photos
- Create accurate records
- Exchange Information
- Report the accident
- Seek medical attention
- Keep a file
- Locate any witnesses
- Don’t admit fault
- Understand your insurance
- Contact a lawyer
- Remove belongings from car
What’s My Claim Worth?
To value what your claim is worth, have a look at how your insurance or any insurance company would value your claim after a car accident.
The insurance provider usually looks at the type and amount of damages inflicted followed by the percentage fault.
Determining compensation for your car accident injuries can be very complicated and a long ordeal, which is another reason it’s wise to hire an experienced car accident attorney.
Factors that affect the value of your claim might include:
- The police report
- If and when you sought medical attention
- Pre-existing injuries
- Witness testimonies
- Photographs from scene
- DUI charges related to accident
How To Handle Any Money You Might Be Awarded
Many times after somebody is injured in a car accident (or any accident) and their case is settled and they get a check, the real problems start.
People who never had money before the personal injury accident don’t know what to do with a lump sum of cash.
Unfortunately it’s all too common for people to suddenly get into trading stocks or buying a motorcycle, or whatever.
If you do come into a big amount of money (say over $100,000) then you should probably talk to a financial advisor.
If you are going to spend or invest the money consider buying things that are a safe investment over the long run.
Probably not wise to buy a boat in Newport Beach, or a vacation home in Hawaii. On the other hand buying a home in Orange County could be a wise idea if you plan to live in the area for a while.
Just be sure to plan ahead, and don’t make any impulsive decisions.
Most Common Car Accidents
- Rear end collisions
- Single vehicle crashes
- T-Bone/sideswipe accidents
- Vehicle rollover
- Head-on collisions
- Single car accidents
- Intersection accidents
Some Things to Include In Your Claim
Emotional distress, Pain and suffering
Emotional distress, pain and suffering as a result of a car accident can be devastating on so many levels.
In case of a serious accident which leaves a person disfigured, the said person experiences emotional distress like embarrassment, humiliation and shock.
Fear, anxiety or post traumatic disorder PTSD may occur especially if you suffer serious bodily injury.
Mental anguish is also a possibility once you are involved in a traumatic car accident.
This should not be taken lightly or dismissed just because of the lack of physical injuries.
Make a point of speaking to an attorney and give your full account on instances where the accident has caused any emotional distress.
This includes all the medical expenses acquired from the services provided and products purchased to treat your injury that the insurance company is required to reimburse or pay for.
Even though most of the medical expenses can be recovered, be aware that this is in exception to the medical exams you will be required to take for litigation process.
The full amount of your medical expenses is crucial as it’s usually used as a standard in determining the full extent of damages as well as the amount and type of medical damages which may also impact other damages such as emotional distress, wage loss and pain and suffering.
In the event you might need further medical care such as post settlement ensure your doctor and other medical specialist give their advice on how much it will cost so as it may also be included as part of the settlement.
Loss of Income
Income lost as a result of an injury from a car accident should be included in your claim. You may have lost time from employment because of a serious injury or you may never be able to return to your previous work because of a permanent injury.
The claim should compensate you on what you should have earned if you hadn’t be injured and taken time off work.
Also include lost earning capacity in your claim if it likely for the injury to limit your earnings.
Loss of a partner by a spouse is referred to as loss of consortium, which covers loss of companionship, aid, comfort, partnership and affection as well as sexual relations.
The jury takes into account life expectancies, the stability of the marriage and the care provided in the marriage before the car accident before determining the degree of loss of the benefits from the marriage and how much loss has occurred due to the accident.
Other damages an insurance company will pay also include property damage. See the car accident compensation calculator for more details on what your situation might entail.
How Long After Accident to See Doctor/Claim Injury
Holding off before seeing a doctor after getting involved in a car accident is a bad idea.
Visit an emergency room after leaving the scene as injuries from the car accident need documentation. A medical doctor is required to document the injuries for a lawyer.
It’s advisable to see the doctor (or claim an injury) within 72 hours (3 days) after getting involved in a car crash.
72 hours is within a reasonable amount of time to seek medical assistance in case of an injury from the car accident as insurance companies use computer software to determine injury claim.
Most medical doctors and physical therapist require money upfront before attending to a car accident victim.
It’s worse in some states where doctors require you to pay instead of filing a car wreck under your medical insurance which most people can’t afford.
Since the 72 hours are so crucial, it’s important to contact a lawyer.
They will guide you and help you get an accident doctor in time as per the insurance companies’ time frame.
It’s also okay to see your family medical doctor, seek urgent care or go to the emergency room.
Finding a doctor after an accident is crucial to any car accident lawsuit and more importantly it’s the best way to ensure all of your injuries are examined and cared for.
A chiropractor is also recognized as a physician by the computer software used by insurance companies.
They normally give you a similar examination as any other medical doctor would but they don’t prescribe any medication to you.
An accident doctor is important as he offers treatment and document your injuries extensively for a maximum settlement as deserved.
Having no health insurance should not be used as an excuse for you not to see a doctor after an accident.
Things like whiplash can be diagnosed and treated, but waiting to see a doctor can only prolong recovery.
Common Injuries/Symptoms From a Recent Car Accident
Everyone reacts differently to a car accident regardless to the extent of the damage caused. Some injuries are mental or emotional while others are physical injuries. Sometimes physical issues take up to a week before any apparent signs are noticeable.
Care provided in the first six weeks is usually conservative with the healing program comprising of massage, physical therapy and chiropractic care. If pain still persists 6 weeks into conservative care its advisable to seek an interventional pain doctor for injectable treatments.
Automobile accidents can be the worst thing you’ll ever experience, and even minor car accidents can be physically, mentally, and financially draining. Sometimes serious physical injuries might not be visible or offer any warning signs for several days, which is all the more reason to be overly cautious after being in a car crash.
Below are some of the common symptoms that can appear shortly after a car accident.
Numbness, Stiffness or pain on the neck and shoulder
This is a sign of whiplash injury from a recent car accident that causes a loss of feeling in hands and arms. The loss of feeling could be a result of damage to the neck or even the spinal column. Research suggests that 20% of the people that develop numbness are usually in the rear-end vehicle. It’s safe to take x-rays, CT scans or MRIs for proper diagnosis
Any car major car accident (or even a minor car crash) can cause broken bones, fractures, sprains, etc. Having a leg or arm broken can seriously alter your day to day life (think about driving, riding a bike, or even taking care of your kids with a broken ankle) so getting immediate and proper medical care is crucial.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD
PTSD is very common after a car accident. Victims often experience flashbacks in vivid memories of the crash as well as nightmares or get the feeling the accident is recurring. The highest numbers of victims are children as they are highly susceptible.
Personality and or physical function changes
These could be a sign of a concussion caused by traumatic brain injury. Car accidents are ranked as the third overall cause of traumatic brain injuries by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while it is also ranked as the second cause of death from traumatic brain injuries.
Some of the symptoms to be on the lookout are depression, hearing and vision problems, changes in personality and impaired memory and thinking.
Recurring headache days after a car accident may be an indication you are developing a serious problem after the accident like a blood clot, a concussion or a neck or head injury.
Abdomen pain or swelling maybe a sign of internal bleeding; dizziness, fainting. Deep purple bruising is also another sign. Internal bleeding is a life threatening condition that needs immediate medical attention. Internal bleeding can sometime remain undiscovered for days.
Lower back pain is common in instances of rear and side impact conditions. Back pain experienced after a car accident is likely due to injury to the nerves, ligaments or muscles found on the back.
Treatment for Injuries After Car Accident / Ways to Rehab etc
Treatment in the initial weeks and months (after a motor vehicle accident) involves strength training and body mechanic instructions. In the event you don’t get better 12 weeks into the treatment it is better to seek specialized treatment.
It is important to improve muscle strength so as to hold the neck and head in good posture during activities and while at rest. Strengthening of muscles is also vital in improving the range of motion.
Body mechanics describes the interrelationship between the upper body, neck, head and lower during movement and rest. Proper training gives the damaged tissue a chance to heal while proper posture reduces stress on discs muscles and vertebrae aiding the healing process.
Medications are effective in controlling symptoms and should only be used as just a part of the treatment program. The choice of the type of medication is based on general medical condition and duration and severity of the pain.
Injections are helpful only up to a certain extent for some patients and it should only be a part of the treatment process. Some of these injections are epidural, facet and radio frequency neurotomy (RFN) that can be considered in cases of severe and chronic pain situations.
Spinal manipulative therapy SMT
This type of therapy is mostly provided by osteopaths, chiropractors or physical therapists with special training. SMT is viewed as a safe way to get relief from symptoms for car accident victims. SMT is more effective when combined with strength training and body mechanics instruction. Spinal injuries are very serious.
Surgery is more necessary in the case of severe pain, when non operative care hasn’t been of help, a psychologically healthy patient and if a patient is exceeding disabled. Surgery is commonly done to alleviate pressure on a nerve or the spinal cord.
It’s important to stay active and exercise daily to improve posture. Take into account the specialists instructions, be patient and take proper care for quick and full recovery.
What to do as a passenger after a Car Accident?
It may be very confusing especially for a passenger once you are involved in a car accident. In case the insurance companies fails to agree who is liable, it even turns out to be a nightmare. If you were a passenger who was involved in a car accident, contact an automobile accident lawyer and consider:
Your health matters
This is the first step you should take. Ensure you get medical help even if you don’t have any visible injuries. In some cases, the injuries might be internal and can affect you later.
File a claim against the driver’s insurance
You first have to determine which driver was at fault. If the driver who was driving you was at fault, you have a legal right to file for claims against the insurance provider of that driver. You can then receive compensation for the injuries that you got. In case the passenger was related to the driver, they may not receive compensation.
If the driver who was at fault was the other driver, the passenger cans still file claims. However, in this case, the passenger can only receive an amount equal to the total amount of the claim and no more. Learn more about fault, bodily injury liability, compensation, etc.
If the passenger is at fault e.g. if they grabbed the steering wheel, the amount they were to recover will be reduced to the proportionate share of fault that contributed to the accident. These system is followed in majority of States while there are States where a person doesn’t receive any compensation if they were at fault.
What happens to my car insurance after being in a car accident?
Once a person is involved in a car accident, their driving record comes under the scrutiny of their insurance provider and depending on the extent of their fault, their rates are going to be adjusted and are likely to increase.
Some of the factors the insurance provider will look at before adjusting the rates are whose fault was it, what age is the driver and the time period the driver had taken before being involved in an accident.
Rates don’t always go up! Minor accidents and small fender benders may not cause a rate hike, especially if you have a great driving history with no prior accidents.
If your rates do increase then be prepared to pay the higher rate for a while. Your driving history will follow you around longer than you want it to, and insurance companies will take into account the severity of the accident and the total cost of damages to determine your new insurance terms.
What Not To Do After a Car Accident?
- Regardless of how minor an accident is never drive away from a collision scene. It’s important to stop your car and check the condition of the other party offer assistance in case they are injured and exchange insurance information. Call law enforcement to report the accident or otherwise you will be committing a crime
- Never ignore calling 9-1-1, it’s important to report a car accident in case there is need for medical attention. It’s also important so as to get a police report documenting the accident. This will be of great use for filling and speeding up the claim process.
- Don’t lose your temper or get physical with the other despite of who is at fault. Getting involved in a car accident is unpleasant, it’s important to keep your emotions in check in order to access the situation clearing.
- Don’t suggest or are admit you’re at fault for the accident as it legally holds you responsible for the accident hence exposing you to penalties or lawsuits
- Don’t forget to document the scene properly by taking pictures, videos and trying to remember as much details as possible about the crash. Also ensure the insurance details from the other party are correct.
- Don’t ignore anything after the accident. Get a complete medical checkup even if you have no physical injuries. Launch your insurance claim as soon as possible.
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