Eleven Steps to Take Immediately After an Auto Accident

An auto accident can have catastrophic consequences on an individual's livelihood if they are seriously injured. To begin, auto accident victims who are injured often suffer financially because they are unable to work and/or have amassed medical bills which they cannot afford to pay. Secondly, auto accident victims tend to find that their familial relationships have been injured. For example, due to injury, spouses are often physically unable to be intimate. Further, as a result of injuries sustained in an auto accident, parents are often unable to physically interact with their children on a day to day basis. Additionally, auto accident victims who have suffered serious injuries tend to be unable to sleep, struggle to take care of themselves, discover that they are physically unable to sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, can become very reliant on pain medication and simply cannot regain the health and mobility that they had prior to their auto accident.

It is for the above reasons that all auto accident victims, regardless of whether a victim believes that they are injured at the time of the accident, should take the following steps to protect themselves. Further, adhering to the following steps after an auto accident will most likely increase the value of any settlement an auto accident victim receives from an insurance company.

1. Obtain the Names and Contact Information of All Witnesses.

Immediately following any auto accident it is of the utmost importance to obtain the name, phone number, address and even e-mail of any individuals that saw the accident. These individuals will be able to serve as neutral witnesses that have nothing to gain or lose at any trial. Thus, these witnesses have no bias and are often very convincing to judges and juries.

2. Take Pictures of The Accident Scene

A picture is worth a thousand words. Your case will be far more compelling and you will fare better in negotiations and during any trial if you have pictures of the accident scene. This means take pictures of: 1) the damage to all cars that were involved in the auto accident; 2) all street signs, street lights, and street divider lines in the vicinity of the auto accident; 3) any and all physical injuries that you may have; 4) any damage to the interior of the vehicles involved in the auto accident; 5) any debris on the street or sidewalk from the auto accident; and 6) all other things which you think may be relevant to the cause of the auto accident.

Simply put, showing a picture of a mangled vehicle to a judge or jury is far more effective then attempting to describe the damage to a vehicle verbally. Furthermore, having pictures of where cars were positioned immediately after an accident may prove who and/or what caused an accident to occur. Additionally, if your vehicle is mangled or has a great amount of damage, the picture will often help a judge or jury determine or understand the force of the accident.

3. Go to the Doctor

Again, Go to the Doctor. Often, individuals involved in an auto accident shrug off going to the emergency room immediately after an accident and/or fail to regularly attend physical therapy because they believe the discomfort or pain they feel will go away on its own. This can be erroneous because pain arising from a serious auto accident can worsen in the weeks and months following an accident rather than get better.

If you fail to go to the doctor shortly after an auto accident the likelihood of obtaining a favorable settlement can be greatly diminished. An insurance company will simply argue that you obviously were not injured because you did not seek medical attention and/or missed numerous doctor appointments. In other words, if you are pursuing a claim for a "personal injury" but have little or no medical evidence establishing that you were injured then the likelihood of success as to obtaining a settlement or jury verdict is greatly reduced.

4. Do Not Minimize Your Injuries

When you go to the doctor be sure to tell him or her about any pain, bruising, swelling or discomfort that you have no matter how minor. Also, tell the doctor if any part of your body struck any object within the car (ie. head striking steering wheel, window, dashboard, etc.). In short, do not minimize your injuries under any circumstance. If you fail to tell a doctor about an injury then the doctor will not note it in his or her report. Thereafter, if you seek to assert that a previously unreported injury was caused by your auto accident the insurance company will dispute it based on the fact that the injury was not reported to your doctor immediately after the accident.

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