After a Car Accident, Be Proactive and Patient

Whenever you have been involved in a car accident, there are some important pro-active steps to take in order to protect your rights.

First of all, if there is any significant property damage, you should certainly call for law enforcement to come to the scene. Since so many of us now carry smart phones or cell phones with cameras, it is highly advisable to take photographs at the accident scene, and of the damage to both your vehicle, as well as the other vehicles involved. Law enforcement usually does not take photographs of the vehicles unless there are very severe injuries or a death involved in the crash.

You should also take steps to contact your insurance agent or your insurance company directly to report the collision. Even if another driver was completely at fault for causing the crash, it is important for you to let your insurance company know about the incident, especially if you are going to seek any medical attention for injuries you may have sustained in the crash. The reason this is important is that your automobile insurance is primarily responsible for paying the first $20,000 for treatment of injuries you sustained in the collision. You should be aware that a small percentage of Minnesota insureds actually carry more than the required $20,000 in medical expense coverage under their own automobile policy. These citizens carry what is called “stacked” no-fault PIP medical coverage. If your family insures more than one vehicle under the same auto policy you should discuss the concept of “stacking of no-fault coverages” with your insurance agent.

Oftentimes car crash victims experience an adrenaline rush following the crash and do not notice symptoms of injury until 12-48 hours after the crash. Obviously, if you are severely injured and are taken by ambulance to the hospital, the question regarding seeking medical treatment is already answered. However, if you begin developing symptoms of injury the day or two or three following the crash, it is highly advisable that you make an appointment with your primary care physician for further assessment and treatment of your trauma-related injuries.

It is also important to be patient. Many insurance companies are very aggressive about trying to have crash victims sign full and final releases in exchange for $500 or $1,000. Some even drive out to the homes of crash victims in their white trucks with the company checkbook, prepared to write checks for $500 or $1,000, as long as the crash victim is willing to sign a full and final release of all claims.

The insurance companies know it is very tempting for many people to accept that kind of a deal. However, if you are still experiencing symptoms of injury from the crash, you should resist the temptation to sign away your rights in exchange for such a small amount of money, especially when it is only a few days or weeks following the crash.

In the end, if you are continuing to experience symptoms of injury following a motor vehicle crash, there is nothing to lose, and potentially much to gain, by contacting a lawyer or law firm that specializes in personal injury cases. Most law firms will provide a free consultation so you can better understand your options and legal rights as it relates to the various insurance claims arising out of a motor vehicle crash.

When in doubt, contact a reputable lawyer or law firm so they can answer whatever questions you may have and then you can make an educated decision as to whether to retain the services of a lawyer.