What you do directly after a car accident has a direct bearing on the eventual value of your claim. It is possible to make mistakes grave enough to completely devalue your claim, or even to bar recovery altogether.
Observe these dos and don’ts to make your car accident case as successful as possible.
DO: Call the Police
It’s the law. If there have been any injuries at the scene of an accident you must call the police. If you fail to do so you may be charged with leaving the scene of an accident later, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. This is a serious charge that can have life-altering consequences.
This is also valuable as the police will also give the initial estimation of fault. Take a copy of the police report for your own records. You will need it for your case, later.
DO: Gather Evidence at the Scene
While not every accident victim will be medically capable of gathering evidence at the scene, it’s a great idea if you can manage it.
Evidence starts with exchanging contact and insurance information with the other driver, which is required by law if you are not incapacitated.
After that, gather the names and contact numbers of any witnesses.
Next, take pictures. Use your smartphone and get more than you’ll think you’ll need. Take photos of your car from every angle, inside and out. Take photos of the other car from every angle. Take photos from the scene of the accident and the conditions at the scene. Take photos of your injuries if you can.
While there are workarounds for not having this extensive documentation, having it tends to strengthen your case.
DO: Get Medical Treatment
Don’t say you’re fine, don’t brush off your injuries. They can be worse than they appear.
When medical providers arrive on the scene, let them take care of you.
If you don’t, and you come back later and say you were severely injured, then the insurance company is going to be able to use this fact to cast doubt on your claims. They can use that doubt to reduce your settlement and pay you a lot less.
DO: Follow ALL Medical Provider Instructions
You have a legal responsibility to avoid exacerbating your injuries. Failing to follow your doctor’s instructions can be used against you later. A portion of the damage will still be the other driver’s responsibility, but so will a portion of the damage you caused by being stubborn, and it won’t necessarily be easy to untangle the two.
This includes instructions on restrictions such as climbing stairs, going back to work, or participating in certain recreational activities, as well as instructions on managing wounds or using medications.
DO: Save Your Hospital Bills and Other Relevant Receipts
Since your personal injury suit pays the bills that result from the accident it is very important to keep track of each and every bill. You should also keep invoices and receipts for equipment you need to buy, such as walkers or wheelchairs.
If you have to use services you never had to use before, like housekeeping services, you should keep those invoices and receipts as well.
Get copies of your medical records. These can be used as evidence of the extent of your pain and suffering.
DO: Contact a Lawyer Immediately
Insurance companies will try to convince you that you have to wait for a certain amount of time to contact a lawyer. This isn’t true.
You can contact a lawyer immediately. We can even help you file your insurance claim.
Involving a lawyer early has many advantages. It allows you to send that insurance company representative to us, instead of dealing with them yourself. It ensures that you don’t fall prey to any of the myriad of tricks that those people play to try to devalue your claim.
It also ensures they take you seriously, which means you don’t have to worry about getting some lowball settlement offer. Your settlement, should you choose to accept it, will be a fair one.
DON’T: Say You’re Sorry or You’re OK
“I’m sorry” implies fault and can increase your percentage of responsibility. While you can still sue if you have partial responsibility for the accident, your award can also be reduced by the same percentage amount.
Those two little words, however human, can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Saying “I’m fine, I’m okay” just gives insurance companies more to use if they want to downplay the extent of your injuries. Don’t give them that ammunition.
DON’T: Wait to Start Taking Action On Your Claim
Some parts of your insurance claim are extremely time-sensitive. You may have only 24 hours to file with your insurance company, for example, depending on the terms of your policy. If you got into a collision with a municipal vehicle you only have ten days to inform the city of your claim in writing.
You have just two years to file a lawsuit, and if you wait too long vital evidence and witnesses might dry up, leaving your lawyer far less to work with.
You can and should start taking action immediately. It’s going to take 18 to 24 months from the date of filing to resolve your case as it is. The faster you get to work, the faster you can get your money.
Why Choose Us?
Our lawyers have two decades of experience or more.
We’re caring and responsive. You can expect us to answer your calls and emails in a timely fashion. You can expect us to take the time to educate you and to answer any questions you might have.
We’re known for being some of Canada’s toughest litigators and savviest negotiators, which means we can help whether your case settles out of court or goes to trial.
We can help you attain the compensation you need to pay your medical bills, cover your lost wages, and more.
For a risk-free initial consultation, call (403) 237-9777 today.