A motor vehicle accident is one of the scariest things that can happen to you or a loved one. Collisions not only have the potential to cause serious injury, they also can lead to a seemingly endless maze of paperwork, phone calls, and medical appointments. You may have questions, such as: “will I be able to get a rental car?”, “will my insurance rates go up?”, “who will pay my medical bills?”, “do I need a lawyer?”, and “who will pay my lost wages?”.
Adding to the stress is the uncertainty about whether you should talk to the other driver, the police, and representatives from your own insurance company or from the insurance company of other drivers. Knowing what to do in the event of a car crash may not only help protect your rights, but may also save you a lot of money and heartache in the long term. So, in the event that you or a loved one is involved in a motor vehicle accident, here are some general tips to consider.
AT THE SCENE
You should always get the name and address of other drivers and any witnesses. You should do this even if there is no visible property damage, or you do not feel any symptoms at the accident scene. You should always require identification of the other driver so that you verify their contact information.
You should cooperate with law enforcement. Never admit fault or guess about your speed. If you admit to exceeding the speed limit, under Minnesota law, you will forfeit any right-of-way you otherwise might have had.
You should not talk to anyone outside of your family about your case unless you have retained a lawyer. Although you may have a contractual obligation to discuss your claim with your own insurance company, it is best to have a lawyer present at this conversation. You do not have an obligation to talk to anyone from the insurance company of the other driver involved in the accident.
If you are injured as a result of the crash, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. It doesn’t help you to be tough and not seek treatment. Insurance companies often interpret a lack of treatment as evidence you are not hurt. You should return to each of your doctors as often as they feel it is necessary. You should always report each of your symptoms to your health care providers. Don’t minimize your symptoms or problems to your doctors. A doctor must know these things in order to treat you properly. Inaccurate or incomplete notes made in your medical records can cause significant problems in your case.
You should keep accurate and detailed records of the following:
Lost work time, wages, or income of any sort;
Mileage to and from medical appointments;
Other losses and out of pocket expenses directly resulting from your injury;
Make notes, or keep a diary reflecting the effect of your injury on your daily life;
Any bills paid by you should be by check, or you should obtain and keep receipts.
With the advent of smart phones, taking photographs is easier than ever. Snapping a few quick photos at the scene could make a big difference later on if the insurance company takes the position that you were at fault for the accident. Retain any photographs or statements pertaining to your case. If your injury requires a cast, a brace, traction, or other appliance, save it for evidence in the event that your case goes to trial. Take photographs of property damage, scars, injuries or other matters that may help demonstrate your damages.
CONSULT AN ATTORNEY
Call one of our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation. We have over 30 years of experience in handling personal injury claims. We will walk you through each step of your case, answer all of your questions, and make sure that your rights are protected.