5 Important Steps for Protecting Your Best Interests
An accident is a sudden and traumatic event that can leave you feeling confused and frightened. The steps you take immediately following an accident can greatly impact your future. Knowing what to do—and what not to do—is important for protecting your best interests. If you experienced serious injuries due to no fault of your own, you may want to consider discussing your case with a personal injury attorney without delay.
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The shock your body experiences after a car accident, a fall, or any other type of accident can disguise serious injuries. Shock is a serious medical condition that, if left untreated, can even result in death.
Seeking immediate medical attention is important for determining the following:
- If your sore neck is possibly whiplash.
- If your headache is possibly a concussion.
- If your soreness is actually internal bleeding.
Only a doctor can properly diagnose your medical condition. Not only can seeking medical attention prevent you from becoming worse, but it can also serve as valuable documentation of your injuries. Your medical reports can serve as valuable evidence later should you pursue civil litigation.
What may seem like a minor pain can quickly develop into a life-threatening condition without medical attention. Don’t let the lack of an obvious injury, such as bleeding, fool you into thinking you are fine.
Seek immediate medical attention to rule out any hidden and dangerous injuries.
2. Do Speak With Law Enforcement
If a police officer wants a statement from you regarding how the accident occurred, do speak with them. The details you provide, along with the officer’s completed report, can help prove liability when it comes to your civil case. Do not speak with the driver of the other car—they may try to blame you for the accident.
If your injuries are due to a slip-and-fall accident, notify store management. In most cases, the manager must complete an incident report for the company. An incident report, like a police report, can also serve as important evidence should you pursue compensation. Be careful not to sign anything provided to you by an owner or employee, however; in many cases, management may be trying to get you to sign away future rights to compensation.
First responders are there to help you. Accept medical treatment and transport from the EMTs, and do provide a statement to a police officer. These two steps are among the two most important ones necessary for protecting your health and any future civil lawsuit.
3. Collect Evidence
Smartphones can serve as a tool for collecting accident scene photos and video. Collecting the names and contact information for witnesses is another important step to take following your accident.
If your injuries are too severe to collect evidence, ask a witness to help you. Do not post your pictures or video on social media. Not only is it an unfavorable way to inform your family of the accident, but it can also reflect badly on your case later. Comments and shares may lead to a misinterpretation of who was at fault or whether your injuries are serious.
4. Beware of Insurance Company Pressure
It is not uncommon for an insurance company to visit you soon after the accident. While they may appear friendly and eager to help you, their true intention is to protect the company’s best interests and not yours.
An initial settlement offer may seem like a lot of money to you and your family. Chances are it isn’t enough to cover your future medical needs. Trying to negotiate a settlement on your own can lead to disappointment and poor compensation. Should you accept a settlement offer, you forfeit your right to pursue compensation later if your medical condition worsens.
Your future is too important to trust to just anyone. Securing legal representation is a smart idea for protecting your best interests and for protecting you from settling for less than you deserve.
5. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Doctors’ appointments, medical procedures, therapy, and more can keep your mind more on your recovery and less on the accident itself. While your medical care is important, it is also quite expensive. No one should pay out-of-pocket for medical bills that result due to the negligent actions of another person.
A personal injury attorney can deal with the details of your case so that you can concentrate on your health. Most personal injury attorneys are well aware of the tactics insurance companies use to deny or to delay claims. If an attorney is unable to secure a fair settlement out-of-court, they should be ready and willing to go to trial.
Many personal injury attorneys offer free case evaluations. You have nothing to lose by contacting one to learn about your options for pursuing justice. You must act quickly due to the statute of limitations for filing your case. Massachusetts law allows three years for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Thirty-six months may seem like a long time, however, it can pass quickly as you learn to adjust to your injuries.
Once you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you no longer have an opportunity for pursuing a civil action. It is also important to note that a personal injury lawsuit is a civil action. If the party responsible for your injuries faces criminal charges, their criminal case has no bearing on your personal injury lawsuit.
You have enough stress in your life without dealing with insurance companies. The right personal injury attorney will aggressively take on large insurance companies on your behalf while treating you with compassion during this most difficult time. They also keep the lines of communication open so that you never have to wonder about the status of your case.
Personal injury lawsuits take time. Like your injuries, there is no quick fix to your financial worries. Each personal injury lawsuit is different. You have nothing to lose by simply exploring your options for pursuing justice. By holding those responsible for your injuries accountable for their actions, you may just prevent the same accident from happening to someone else. Don’t miss your chance to file a personal injury claim: The clock begins the moment you become injured.