I Was Injured in a Car Accident. What Now?
In the US, millions of car accidents happen each year. As a victim of a motor vehicle incident, you may sustain injuries that need medical attention and that rack up large medical bills. In the most serious cases, a car accident may cause death. These vehicle accidents can have profound impacts of your life and the lives of your loved ones. Below you will find a state by state guide to help you or a loved one navigate the next steps after a car crash.I Was Injured in a Car Accident in Maine. What Now?
Suffering a serious personal injury because of another person’s negligence is a life changing event that is often overwhelming for clients. Clients tell me that in the aftermath of suffering a serious personal injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, a lost limb, or a complex fracture, it is difficult to balance visits to doctors and specialists, growing medical bills, missed time from work, and property damage issues. In response to these concerns, I advise clients to think of the following five guiding principles:
Treatment: Obtain the Care You Need to Recover
Regaining your health is the single most important priority after you are injured. Your health is priceless. There is no amount of money that the civil justice system will provide that will adequately compensate you for the loss of your health.
Obtaining treatment early is important because it provides a roadmap to understand the extent of your injuries, the treatment you require, and the timeframe for recovery. Additionally, early medical intervention may be effective in resolving issues before they become chronic.
Mainers are often reluctant to seek medical attention and, when they do, they downplay the significance of their injuries and pain. When you treat with your medical providers, it is important to honestly and accurately answer their questions and report your injuries and limitations.
Capture: Preserve Key Evidence
We have all heard the expression that “one picture is worth a thousand words.” This saying rings true in the context of personal injury cases. After you are injured, it is important to take pictures that accurately reflect the damage that is caused to you and your personal property, such as your vehicle. For example, pictures that show casts, swelling, bruising, lacerations, and scars are critical to describing the extent of your injuries to an insurance company or eventually a jury. Similarly, photographs showing damage caused to your vehicle can also demonstrate the severity of your car crash. Finally, pictures that capture what the scene of the incident looked like at the time the incident occurred are important in describing the incident to an insurance company or jury.
Refuse: Do Not Give Recorded Statements to Insurance Companies
Frequently, opposing insurance companies will ask you to provide a recorded statement. Insurance adjusters are creative in cajoling injured victims into providing these statements. You should recognize that these recorded statements are for the benefit of the insurance company, and that such statements will be used at every opportunity to undermine your potential case.
Moreover, providing a recorded statement when you are vulnerable and still in the initial stages of your treatment is unwise. At the time you provide your recorded statement, you may not fully appreciate the extent of your injuries. The casual language you use in describing the event or your injuries may be used against you later to suggest that you were at fault for the crash or that your injuries were insignificant. If an insurance company asks you to give a recorded statement, a warning bell should go off in your mind and you should politely decline.
Patience: Resist the Temptation to Prematurely Settle Your Case
We have all heard the saying that patience is a virtue. In the context of a personal injury case, patience is important to protecting your interests. Clients are often pushed into settling their cases prematurely. Insurance adjusters suggest that they simply want to wrap-up the claim and ensure the client receives money. In reality, this can merely be a ploy to entice you to resolve your claim before the full extent of your injuries and damages are recognized.
Before you resolve your claim, it is critical that you understand the full extent of your injuries: are your injuries permanent or will they improve over time; will you require additional future treatment; what ongoing treatment will you require? It is also important to understand whether your injuries will affect your ability to work and reduce your earning capacity/wages over time. Ultimately, the “right” time to settle your case varies from case-to-case depending on your injuries.
Consult: Obtain a Free Consultation from an Attorney to Ensure Your Interests are Protected
Insurance companies are large, sophisticated entities. Their priority is to manage risk and to pay the least amount of money possible to resolve a claim. Insurance companies use varying tactics to achieve their goal from appearing overly friendly and supportive to being overbearing, aggressive, and mean. Regardless of the insurance company’s tact, it is critical to remember that the insurance company does not have your best interest at heart. To ensure your best interests are protected and that you are fully and fairly compensated for your injuries, you should consult with an attorney whose practice focuses on personal injury cases. Typically, this consultation is free, and you only pay an attorney fee if the attorney recovers money for you.
No one wants to be injured let alone be forced into a legal process to obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries. If, however, you are injured, it is important to remember these five guiding principles to ensure that your interests and rights are protected and preserved.
Car accidents can be traumatic experiences. As you try to make sense of what has happened to cause the accident, you may not know what to do next. There are several immediate steps that you should take after you get into a motor vehicle accident, both to ensure your own safety, and to obtain the important information you will need to file a claim with your insurance company. After contacting the police:
Ensure that you and the other drivers are safe: If you aren’t badly injured and the car is drivable, avoid any secondary accidents by moving to the shoulder if possible and putting on your hazard lights. If you are seriously injured, wait for medical attention to arrive before doing anything else.
Exchange information: Gather as much information as you can about the other driver(s) involved, including collecting their license plate, their insurance information, and their personal contact information. If it is possible to do safely, you should remember to take photographs of the damage to your vehicle, and any other vehicles involved
File a Motor Vehicle Accident report: If you are the operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident that resulted in death, injury, or over $1,000 in property damage, you are required to file one of these reports with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. It is not always immediately clear if anyone involved in the accident was injured or how much property damage occurred, so to be safe, complete and file the report regardless of your best estimate for the damages. This report must be filed within 5 days of the accident.
Work with law enforcement: Go over the details of the accident with the police at the scene to ensure that there is a clear accident report available. This report can be used in court if needed to provide additional information about the accident.
Seek medical attention: If you are injured in any way, you should seek out an examination by a medical professional as soon as possible. A medical professional will be able to best assess the severity of your injuries and provide you with the care that you need. A doctor will also provide you with documentation about your injuries which can be crucial for your case in the event that you choose to pursue a lawsuit.
Contact your insurance company: Finally, report your accident to your insurance company and provide them with as much information regarding the accident and the other parties involved as you can.
Contact an attorney: Car accidents can cause financial and emotional hardships on the victim and family members of victims of crashes. The personal injury attorneys of Altman & Altman, LLP are here to help. Contact us today and get a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and if you may be entitled to additional compensation for your injuries. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199.
Save all of your documents about your accident in one place: Put medical bills, explanation of benefits letters, other forms from your insurance company and any documents related to your accident in one place. This will make it easier for you to access information and provide that to your attorney to support your case.
Take pictures: Photos of injuries from the day of your accident and throughout your healing process can help provide a powerful narrative about the impact of your accident on your life. If your case goes to court, these photos can be shared with a jury to show how your injuries physically impacted you.
Journal: Keep a log of your injuries, both the physical as well as the mental impact this has had on your life. This first hand account can help provide a powerful narrative to a jury that isn’t captured in your medical and insurance documents.
Being involved in a car accident is alarming for more than one reason. Not only have you suffered a traumatic event, but the aftermath of a car accident can be confusing. You are hurt, vulnerable, and trying to navigate your way through an often-complex insurance claim system with no clear direction. Insurance adjusters may seem friendly over that phone and act like they want to help, but are they really putting your best interests first?
At the Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, LTD., the number one question we hear from victims of car accidents is, “what am I supposed to do now?” It is a fair question. There is no one guiding you through the process of filing an insurance claim, no one giving you advice on what to do if you’ve been hurt by a negligent driver, and no one looking out for you when the medical bills start rolling in, and you’ve missed work due to your injuries.
The attorneys with the Law Offices of Ronald J. Resmini, LTD. want you to know that step one following a car accident in Rhode Island should be to contact an experienced car accident lawyer. An experienced attorney will be able to guide you through the post-car accident process and help you get the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. You may not have all the answers after a car accident, and that’s okay. Turning to someone who can give you the legal advice you need is the most important step you can take. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Rhode Island, contact us by calling 401.444.4444 for help.Steps to Take Following a Car Accident
A car accident is a stressful event. From the moment you realize a collision is going to take place, the adrenaline starts to course through your veins. You are no doubt frightened and anxious and in pain; however, the next steps you take can make a significant impact on your health as well as the strength of your insurance claim or lawsuit. It is important to take a few calming breaths and try to clear your head. Next, try to follow these helpful suggestions:
- Call law enforcement or 911: If you or anyone else has been seriously injured, call for emergency services immediately. Your health and safety are the number one priority. Law enforcement can also secure the scene and make a report about the accident that may help you down the line.
- Collect contact information: Make sure to take down all the important information from the other driver, such as name, driver’s license information, car insurance information, and license plate numbers. It is also extremely helpful to gather the contact information of any witnesses to the accident.
- Document everything: If you are physically able, make sure you take pictures of the damage to the cars, debris from the accident, any skid marks that may be present, or damage to the surrounding area. Try to get as many different angles as you can.
- Report the accident: Drivers involved in an accident that results in injury or death, or causes damage to a vehicle that makes it incapable of normal and safe operation, must report the accident to the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles within 21 days.
- Contact your insurance provider: Give only the basic information about the accident to your insurance provider. Facts only.
- Avoid social media: Do not post about your accident or injuries on any social media platform.
- Contact an attorney: Getting an attorney on your side immediately is the best way to secure crucial evidence and negotiate a fair settlement for compensation.
Drivers need to understand that Rhode Island is a “fault” car accident state. That means that the person who is at-fault for causing the accident bears the responsibility for any resulting damage. Living in an at-fault state gives drivers involved in serious car accidents a range of options for recovering compensation after an accident. A driver may pursue compensation in the following ways:
- Filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- Filing a claim with their own insurance company
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver
Many people assume they only need an attorney if they want to take the other driver to court. That is incorrect. An attorney can gather evidence to help strengthen your claim and negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company. Insurance companies may take advantage of the fact that you are in a vulnerable physical and financial situation. Having a lawyer working with you means you have the benefit of a strong negotiator who can work to get you the maximum compensation you deserve. In the event an insurance company doesn’t want to negotiate in good faith, an attorney can take the at-fault party to court.
Rhode Island is also considered a “pure comparative negligence” state. So, any driver has the ability to recover damages from an accident; however, their damages will be reduced according to their share of negligence in causing the accident. If you are in an accident and it is deemed you were 20 percent to blame for the crash, you are entitled to collect the total amount of damages calculated minus 20 percent. Even if a driver is found to be mostly at-fault for an accident, they can still recover damages. However, that driver or their insurance company is still on the hook for the other parties’ losses.Find Out More About Your Rights Today
If you or someone you care about has been injured in a car accident, it is important to talk to an attorney about recovering financial compensation for your losses. A skilled attorney is a valuable asset that can help you get the damages you are entitled to.