What should clients do immediately following a car accident?
What should you do after you are involved in a car accident or car crash? The first thing you should do, if possible, is take photos of the accident scene and vehicles involved. If you are not physically able to do this, ask a friend or bystander/witness to do this for you and get their contact information. It is important to preserve the evidence and many do not think about taking photos at the accident scene. Photos of the damaged vehicles are always important evidence in every case. If there is someone there who can help you with this and even help you get the names and phone numbers of any eye-witnesses, this is extremely helpful.
Of utmost priority is to seek immediate medical attention. If you cannot get to the Emergency Room by yourself or a friend/relative, then you should take the ambulance to the ER. It is very important to seek medical attention right away. If you cannot get to an emergency room (which is your best option), then try to get to the nearest walk in clinic or 24-hour urgent clinic to get checked out by a doctor. It is absolutely necessary to seek medical attention immediately as your condition could worsen if you do not get checked out right away.
Normally, the ER doctor will take X-rays and check for any broken bones. If there are no broken bones, then the ER doctor will normally tell you to follow up with your family doctor. I also highly recommend that you follow up with your family doctor, if you have one. If you do not have a family doctor, it is possible that the ER doctor will refer you to an orthopedic doctor or to a physical therapy facility. If you had a doctor from a prior injury, you can always follow up with this doctor as they will already know your prior condition. Some doctors will not see persons who are injured in car accidents so in this situation, I have a list of participating doctors who will treat injured victims.
Many times, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will call you before you have hired an attorney and try to take your recorded statement over the phone. Do not give a recorded statement to any car insurance company (unless it is your own car insurance company). You are under no obligation to give a recorded statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They will always use these recorded statements against you, later–if your case goes to court. These recorded statements are only to help the defense and will never help you, so do not allow it and just say “NO”.
Do not post anything about your injuries or your case on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other similar type social media. The insurance companies will get access to this and it can only hurt your case in the long run.
Make sure that you tell your treating doctors and physical therapists about every physical and mental complaint that you are having due to your car crash. If you have neck pain, tell them. If you have neck pain and headaches, then you need to tell them you have neck pain and headaches. If you have pain in your mid back and low back, you need to tell them. Do not say “I have back pain”. You need to be specific about all your injury complaints and do not leave anything out, no matter how small you might think it is. Many people have headaches from car accidents but forget to mention this to their treating providers. I have also found that many people may suffer memory loss and concentration after a crash, but fail to mention this. Please tell your doctors and treating providers every single symptom that you are feeling.
It is extremely important that you make all your doctor and therapy appointments. If you fail to keep your appointments, it will appear to a jury or the other side’s insurance company that you are not that injured. If you are not going to your appointments, then the other side can use that against you and again it will appear as if you did not really get injured from your car crash. I cannot settle your case or prove your injuries if you fail to keep your doctor appointments. A jury will also not award money damages to you if you do have long gaps in treatment and skip weeks of treatment.
Make sure that you tell your attorney and your treating doctors about your prior injuries and accidents. The insurance companies have a database and they know how many car accidents or any other type of accident that you have been involved in. If you fail to disclose this to your attorney, or your doctors then your case will be seriously damaged and your attorney will only be caught off guard and cannot properly defend you if he has no knowledge of your prior accidents, prior medical history and prior treating doctors. Please tell your attorney about your prior accident and medical history. Trying to hide this only hurts your case.
My final thought is to never agree to sign a medical authorization allowing the at-fault driver’s insurance company permission to get all your medical records. The insurance companies are just trying to dig up information in your past medical history to use against you. So, do not sign these authorizations. This is also an invasion of your privacy and your attorney should be the one responsible for sending all relevant medical records to the other side. Do not give a blanket authorization to allow this to the other side as it is merely a defense tool to gather evidence against you.
A personal injury lawyer with over 10 years of experience, Ryan Malnar serves Colorado Springs with honesty & integrity.