Every year in the U.S., 4.4 million people experience a car accident injury severe enough to need medical treatment. If you or a loved one falls into that statistic, knowing what to do next is crucial. Failing to get the proper medical treatment or take the appropriate legal actions could have physical and financial consequences.
Check out these car accident steps you should take after an injury.
- Assess the Severity of the Injury
Shock and adrenaline kick in when you get into a car accident. Once you calm down, do a quick assessment of everyone in the car. Determine the severity of any injuries that happened.
Some injuries call for immediate help from paramedics. Others need to be evaluated right away, but you can transport yourself to the doctor’s office or hospital.
Moving someone who is injured can make the injury worse, especially if it involves the spinal cord. Sometimes you don’t know the severity of the injury initially. Unless the injured person is in a location that puts them in danger, try to keep them still and don’t move them until paramedics arrive.
- Call for Help
When someone is severely injured, call 911 immediately. That person needs treatment on the scene and will likely be transported to the hospital via ambulance.
For minor injuries, it’s still often necessary to call the police before you leave the scene of the accident. All states have car crash reporting laws that specify when you need to make a police report.
Most states require you to report the accident to police if there are any injuries or deaths. They also typically require you to report an accident if damage exceeds a certain amount. Since you don’t always know the amount of damage done, it’s safer to report all accidents.
You usually have at least a few days to report the accident and sometimes a month or longer, but it’s easier to report it immediately. That documentation from the police can be crucial when getting the insurance company to pay the claim. If you have to take legal action, the report can also help prove that the other person was at fault.
- Seek Medical Treatment
If you have a minor injury, you might not need to ride in an ambulance to the hospital. You should still see a doctor immediately, though. When you’re still dealing with the adrenaline rush from the accident, you might not notice all of the injuries you have or the extent of those injuries.
Your doctor will give you a full exam to look for signs of injuries. They’ll also evaluate the severity of the injuries and come up with a treatment plan.
Some injuries might not show symptoms immediately. Symptoms of concussions can sometimes show up hours or days after your injury. New aches and pains might show up the next day.
When those new symptoms appear, go back to your doctor for an evaluation. Ignoring the injuries could make the situation much worse.
- Preserve the Evidence
If your injuries are minor or a family member was the one who was injured, preserve any evidence from the accident before you leave the scene. Photos to show the car crash from all different angles can be helpful in proving your case. Take photos of the vehicles, accident location, conditions that caused the accident, and any other relevant parts of the scene.
After the accident, keep all copies of any documentation from the accident, such as the police report and any medical bills or reports. Start a file to keep all of the documents in one spot.
- Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
Your doctor will create a course of treatment based on your injuries. You might be restricted on what types of activities or work duties you can do. They might tell you to wear a brace, walk with crutches, or use other medical devices.
Follow all parts of the treatment plan that your doctor creates for you. This includes going to all therapy sessions, taking medications, using medical devices, restricting activity, and going to scheduled follow-up appointments. Failing to listen to your doctor will often make your injuries worse or increase your healing time.
The insurance company might also fight your claim if they find out you aren’t doing what your doctor recommends. Say you go back to work early or go back to your full duties when your doctor said to wait. The insurance company could argue that you hurt yourself worse because you didn’t follow your doctor’s orders.
- Contact an Attorney
Making a call to a car accident lawyer is often worth your time when you’re injured in a car crash. Attorneys negotiate on your behalf to get you the highest compensation possible and take the case to court if needed. They figure in things like medical bills, lost wages, emotional damage, and other financial devastation you face due to the accident injuries.
Personal injury attorneys like kemprugegreen.com use their experience fighting big insurance companies to help you get the compensation you deserve if you’re injured while driving. They know how to go up against the strategies those companies use to avoid paying you enough.
Most personal injury lawyers don’t charge you an upfront fee for their services. Instead, they keep a percentage of your settlement as their payment. Since you’ll likely get a much higher payout thanks to your lawyer, it’s easy to come out ahead even after your lawyer gets their share.
- Contact the Insurance Company
You’ll also need to contact your insurance company to report the accident. Your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company figure out which policy will pay for the various damages.
Your car insurance company likely has guidelines for how soon you need to file the claim. If you’re working with a car accident attorney, they can help you negotiate with the insurance company, even if you don’t take them to court. Insurance adjusters are notorious for talking people into accepting a much lower payment than they deserve to save the company money.
Know What to Do After a Car Accident Injury
If you or someone in your family has a car accident injury, knowing what to do next is crucial. Getting medical attention is always a priority, but legal action may be necessary to get the compensation you deserve.
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