If you have suffered a personal injury as a result of an
auto accident, there are three simple things that you MUST do in order to ensure that
you give your personal injury claim the best chance of success. While
each personal injury claim is unique, the following three items must be
done as a threshold matter to simply have a claim and preserve your best
opportunity to maximize its value.
1) Document the scene – take photographs & call the police.
First and foremost, if you are able, you MUST document the scene. Take
photographs of the vehicles, the roadway, your injuries, call the police
to create a police report, get witness information for any witnesses who
may have been at the scene and report to the police officer and any first
responders that you are injured.
If you feel that you are hurt, take an ambulance from the scene and seek
medical treatment immediately. Remember that we have to prove that the
other party is responsible for causing the wreck and that your injuries
came from the wreck. The insurance company will not simply take your word
for it about what happened in the wreck or your injuries we have to document
it to back up your claim.
2) Document your injuries – seek medical treatment immediately.
As already discussed above, if you are injured you need to report your
injuries to everyone at the scene and seek medical treatment immediately.
Many times we have seen where people initially believe that they are not
injured due to shock from the wreck or adrenaline or both. However, after
they have had a chance to calm down, the pain sets in. It is at this time
where it is critical not to delay in seeking medical treatment.
You MUST follow up with a medical care professional as soon as possible.
Make sure that you inform your doctor of all of the injuries that you
are experiencing, no matter how slight. There is a tendency to only report
the major injuries and not focus on the smaller ones. But those smaller
injuries can sometimes develop into larger injuries, and if it is not
reported, can be difficult to prove.
It is also important to remember that the "script" for your case
is your medical records. Everything that you say to a medical provider
will be put into your records. Therefore you want to be consistent in
what happened in the accident and in the reporting of your injuries. The
insurance company is going to look at your medical records and we want
to make sure that we present a comprehensive and consistent narrative
of your injuries.
Last but not least, it bears repeating that you must seek treatment as
soon as you feel that you are injured. Unfortunately, if you wait too
long to seek medical treatment, the insurance company will not believe
that your injuries are related to the wreck. It is certainly understandable
that you may wait a day or two before seeking medical treatment, but gaps
of weeks or even months can be hard to overcome.
3) Report the claim to your auto insurance company immediately.
You MUST report your claim of
personal injury to your own auto insurer immediately. Most people are surprised when we
give them this advice, but it is one of the most critical things that
you can do in your case. Your contract with your auto insurer requires
that you report any incidents (regardless of who is at fault) immediately
to them. If you fail to timely report the claim, they can deny coverage
that you may need in the future.
For example, if you find out that the other driver was not insured at the
time of the accident, you can utilize your uninsured motorist coverage
to pay for the claim (assuming you purchased this coverage).
Put another way, let's assume that the other driver does not have insurance
and you did not timely report your claim to your insurer. If this happens
you could be in a situation in which there is no insurance to cover your
medical bills, lost wages, and all that you have suffered through no fault
of your own.
This is an extremely unfortunate situation, and can simply be avoided by
reporting the claim to your own auto insurer.
Lastly, many people believe that if they report the claim to their own
insurer that it will increase their insurance rates. This is not the case
if you were not at fault. Your insurance contract requires that you timely
report the claim and you must take this step to make sure that you protect
If you are experiencing injuries after your accident,
call Henningsen Injury Attorneys, P.C. for compassionate and effective representation from our Atlanta car accident
attorneys. We offer a