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Being in a car accident can be a horrible experience.  Even small collisions require you to contact the police, exchange information, and make time to get your car fixed.  But what happens if you are involved in a major accident?

Your first steps after a car accident have a huge impact on the final result of your car accident insurance claim.  If you fail to seek treatment within 14 days of the accident, your insurance company could limit your available benefits.  If you fail to see the correct doctor shortly after the accident, the insurance company may use this against you.  If you fail to see an urgent care or hospital immediately after an accident, the insurance company may use this against you.  If you miss medical appointments, the insurance company may use this against you.  If you fail to report your accident timely, the insurance company may use this against you.  If you were arrested 25 years ago for a petty crime, the insurance company may use this against you.  Even responding to the insurance adjuster’s question “how are you today?” when you call to report your claim can be used against you by the insurance company.  The insurance company’s goal is to pay you as little as possible.  They use any reason to devalue your claim.

If you are in a car accident and you feel any pain, discomfort, dizziness, numbness, go to an emergency medical facility immediately.  Hospitals (emergency rooms) and urgent care are covered by your own PIP insurance under most cases.  Waiting too long to see a doctor after an accident gives the insurance company an easy out, by stating that your injuries are not the result of the accident.  Do not give them the easy out!

Take detailed notes and photos of the accidents and your injuries.  The police are usually tasked with documenting the original accident, completing the crash report, and collecting evidence from the parties.  However, cops often fail to properly describe the accident, fail to collect all the evidence, fail to take pictures, and fail to respond to subpoenas for testimony in your case. Relying on the cops to document and build your injury claim is not in your best interest.

Take matters into your own hands.  Take a lot of pictures of the accident, including all of the vehicles and roadways in question.  Take notes immediately after the accident regarding how the accident happened, statements by the at-fault driver, and any injuries you may have from the accident.  Also, make sure you obtain contact information from any witnesses on the scene.  Take pictures of your injuries, including bruising, cuts, bleeding, surgery incisions and scars.  Continue to keep a diary of how your injuries have effected your quality of life.

But, what not to do?  It is important to make a claim with your insurance company, and the insurance company of the at-fault driver.  But calling the “enemy” can be challenging for many people, and they often make mistakes when talking with the other insurance company.  Always call to make a claim, but keep your conversation limited to essential information.  You may state you are injured, that you are not at fault, and that their insured is at fault.  Make sure you get a “claim number.”  The adjuster may ask a lot of questions about your injuries and how the accident occurred, but you are not obligated to discuss these issues at this point.  Your goal is to make the claim, get a claim number, relay that you are injured, and get off the phone!

Never admit fault.  Do not take any responsibility for the accident, or accept fault for any percentage of your injuries.  Do not apologize to the at-fault party for the accident.  Your words will be used against you by the insurance companies.

Do not lie to the insurance company.  The insurance companies have a lot of resources and money available to fully investigate your claim.  They will know your prior medical history, and your prior insurance claims.  They may even hire a private investigator to take pictures of you during your daily activities.  A good case can be totally killed if the insurance company catches the injured party in a lie about the claim.

Never accept a settlement that is too low for your particular case.  Once you accept the settlement you may be precluded from getting more money from the insurance company.  The insurance company often come to you immediately after the accident with a check book asking you to take money, sign a release form, and close your claim.  Do not let the insurance company take advantage of you and demand maximum value for your injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Finally, if you need help with any of these issues, or others you may have, contact a personal injury or car accident lawyer.  A car accident lawyer can help you focus on getting better, while your attorney focuses on obtaining the most amount of money from the insurance companies.  Justin Linn with LINN LAW, PA is a personal injury lawyer focusing on car accidents.  Justin Linn has experience fighting the insurance company in a variety of car accident cases.  If you have questions, you can contact Mr. Linn personally at 561-756-1608.  One Call, LINN LAW!  Check out LINN LAW online here.