After you've been injured in an auto accident, you must begin the first steps in fighting for your fair settlement. While insurance carriers aren't keen on paying out large sums of money, you can get every cent you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. If you aren't sure what to do after an auto accident, check out these four tips to protect your settlement.
Seek Medical Attention
After the accident, you should first focus on seeking medical attention. This may start by taking a trip to the ER directly from the scene of the accident, or you may visit your personal doctor a few days later. As long as you are clearly and actively seeking treatment to mitigate your damages, you should have nothing to fear. However, if you wait weeks or months to see your doctor, your claim may be denied or your settlement reduced.
In other cases, patients may seek treatment immediately, but they don't follow through with the treatment plan, such as seeing a physical therapist, doing at-home exercises, etc. They fear improving their injury may mean a reduced settlement that won't cover all their medical expense. However, if the courts see that you stopped treatment, they will simply assume your injury wasn't severe, cutting your settlement.
Contact Your Insurance Carrier
Once you know you're not in physical danger, it's time to contact your insurance carrier. This should be done soon after the accident. Most insurance carriers require you to report all accidents, even those that cause little to no injuries/damages. If you wait to file the claim, it may be denied completely (if you missed the deadline), you may be dropped, or your settlement may be affected.
When you contact your insurance carrier, be honest and clear about what happened at the time of the accident. While it is better to let a skilled lawyer handle the conversation, you can usually feel safe in speaking with your insurance carrier, especially if the other driver was at-fault. If you were at-fault, however, it may be best to contact a lawyer first.
Keep Quiet About the Accident
You should, however, be mindful of what you say to anyone else about the accident, including the other insurance carrier. The insurance carrier will want to speak with you to get the facts, but unlike your insurance carrier, they are looking for anything to reduce your settlement. Even a seemingly innocent comment about messing with the radio before the accident can be used to argue you weren't paying attention. Depending on the severity of your injuries, it is best to get a lawyer who can speak with the other insurance carrier for you.
It's also important to avoid speaking about the accident with anyone else. Insurance companies staff or hire investigators who actively look for anyway to "prove" a claimant is exaggerating or making up injuries. Even a private conversation with your best friend at a local restaurant may not be private. Similarly, keep your social media accounts private, and request that your friends do the same. Even one picture of you having fun could be used to argue you aren't injured.
After an accident, you may be severely injured, but big insurance companies are more interested in their bottom line than giving you a fair settlement. An auto accident lawyer is best equipped to get you everything you deserve. Even if you don't have to sue, your lawyer can negotiate a better settlement, and they'll do all the work while you focus on healing. For more information regarding auto accident claims and settlements, contact an accident lawyer in your area today.