The 10 Most Important Things to Know if You've Been Injured in a Car Accident
Our clients always ask us what to do after their car accident, beyond the simple exchange of insurance information with the other driver. They want to know also what not to do. As a result, we've compiled a list of the top ten things we wanted to make sure you know. The purpose of the list is to help you navigate the potential legal minefield that is dealing with insurance companies. Generally, they know all of the information that we are giving you and they leverage your ignorance of the law to help minimize you injury recovery.
Questions answered on this page:
- What do I need to do following a car accident?
- Why is it important to document injuries, contact with the insurance company, and anything else relevant to your case?
- How can lying or distorting the truth potentially undermine your injury claim?
- Why is it crucial for you to have an experience car accident attorney on your side?
10 Rules for strengthening your case.
- First and foremost, never lie about anything. If it has to do with your case, you need to be honest about it related to your case. Insurance companies will do whatever they can to undermine your credibility; Don't give them any ammo.
- Don't accept a check or sign a release from an insurance company, unless you know exactly what it covers. If you have an attorney, make sure that your attorney is aware of every piece of mail, email, or phone call that comes from the insurance company. Do not think for a second that the insurance company won't try to trick you into damaging your case behind your attorney's back. Often, insurance companies will try to get you to release "any and all claims" and lead you to believe that you are only settling the property damage portion of your case. Before you sign anything, check with an attorney. If you have an attorney, don't sign anything that he is not aware of.
- Don't attempt to hide or cover up past injuries or accidents from your lawyer. It is very likely that the insurance company will find out about it, due to the fact that most car accident information is shared by all insurance companies in a central database. If your attorney is aware of such an accident from the beginning, he can foresee any complications that may arise and plan your case accordingly. If you don't tell him and he gets caught off guard, your case may be doomed.
- Send a daily email to your attorney, or keep a journal describing how you are feeling that day and how your injuries are improving or worsening. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare; just a few short sentences each day to chronicle your suffering. Without such a document, your memory of the pain may be called into question. With such a document, it becomes more credible.
- Don't try to be a "tough guy or girl." If you are feeling any type of pain, stiffness, swelling, etc. after an accident, that is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. We cannot tell you how many times we've been hired to represent someone who thought they were just "a little sore" after an accident, only to discover that they needed major surgery down the line. See a doctor immediately after your accident.
- Insurance companies don't play fair. They aren't in business to pay you quickly or to pay you the maximum recovery. They just don't work that way, and one of the tactics they use in order to force you into accepting less than you should, is by holding out on you. They want to keep that money liquid for investment purposes or in the bank earning interest. (Did you know that insurance companies generally profit more money per year on invested insurance premiums - in real estate and so forth - than on new premium dollars received?)
- Your case is going to have gray areas. This goes right back to rule number one: don't lie. Basically, you do not need to exaggerate your injuries or the defendant's liability. People often mistakenly believe that they need to prove the defendant was completely responsible and that they were absolutely not at fault. Frankly, the law is not black and white. There are varying degrees of every element in a car accident case from liability to impairment. If you are partially to blame in an accident that does not mean that your case is a lost cause. There have been many instances where someone with good intentions exaggerates about some aspect of their case in order to really drive their point home, but in doing so they destroy their credibility and the whole case becomes compromised.
- Consider all of your potential damages before deciding how much your case is worth to you. Particularly if you have not already hired an attorney, the other driver's insurance company may offer you some cash for your pain and suffering after your accident, but are they compensating you for all of your damages? Your damages may include common elements such as lost wages or medical expenses, or less obvious damages such as compensation for any scarring or disfigurement (however slight it may be). An insurance company will not voluntarily pay you for all of your damages, especially if you do not have an attorney to put the entirety of your damages into perspective. A good attorney will help you properly quantify all of your damages so that you get the maximum recovery.
- Assume the insurance companies see all. Video and photo cameras are incredibly small these days. You can be photographed or video taped anywhere at any time. If you are injured enough to pursue an injury claim you cannot expect to do normal activities. Often, an accident victim will be genuinely injured, but they will slip up for a moment and "play through the pain" by doing something a healthy person would do. They may be in excruciating pain while doing so, but if such an act is caught on film it will make them look like they're faking their injuries.
- Finally, be leery of your own insurance company. Many people are rightly skeptical about the defendant's insurance carrier and they accept that said carrier will go out of their way to keep them from getting fair compensation. But few are aware that their own carrier may be equally inclined to limit their compensation. Usually, car accident victims will often hire an attorney to file their claim against the defendant but they will then engage in open communication with their own insurance carrier. The problem is that you may have to seek compensation from your own carrier in the event that the defendant is uninsured or underinsured, and this will very quickly turn your insurance company into the enemy. It is imperative that you limit the information that you share with both insurance companies, since you may have to file a claim against both of them.
Put simply, your case has all kinds of variables, meaning you've got to stay on your toes the entire time. Don't put all of that responsibility of your case on your own shoulders; hire an experienced car accident attorney, like those at Grossman Law Offices, who knows the ins and outs of Texas law to help you through all of this. (855) 326-0000.
If you have been in a car accident, the following articles may be of interest to you
- Car Accidents Involving Third Party Claims
- Trying a Car Accident Case
- Car Accident Defenses
- Special Consideration for Injured Children