Serious vehicle collisions injure or kill millions of Americans every year. In a way, these matters are a lot like criminal investigations. Events in the first 48 hours after the crime or crash often dictate happenings for the remainder of the case.
The stakes are high. A Marietta personal injury attorney can obtain substantial compensation in these cases. Victims need this money to put their lives back together. So, it’s important to help yourself as much as possible in the wake of a serious crash.
Do See a Doctor
With the possible exception of number five, this point may be the most important one, for both medical and legal reasons.
An alarming number of car crash victims do not see a doctor. Some of them “feel fine” so they refuse treatment. But they usually have serious injuries. That’s especially true of whiplash and other head injuries. The brain is very good at concealing its own injuries. That’s why many concussed football players beg their coaches to let them back in the game. They honestly do not feel their injuries.
Other people do not see doctors because their health insurance companies refuse to pay for that treatment. Many health insurance policies have obscure clauses which allow the companies to avoid paying for treatment when the policyholder needs it most.
From a medical standpoint, putting off treatment is a very bad idea. Head injuries and other car crash wounds quickly get worse without effective and immediate treatment. And, the worse they get, the more difficult and expensive they are to correct.
Forgoing treatment may also hurt your claim for damages. Unless the victim sees a doctor within about twenty-four hours, insurance companies often later claim the victim’s injuries must not have been very serious. As a result, your Marietta personal injury attorney must play from behind. Comeback wins are not impossible, but they are uncommon.
Don’t Say “I’m Sorry”
Here in the South, we routinely apologize for things that are not our fault. We say “I’m sorry” when our spouses have bad days or when a slow computer keeps us from responding to messages promptly. In contexts like these, apologies are expressions of sympathy.
So, when people apologize after an accident, they do not mean “I’m sorry I caused this wreck.” They usually mean “I’m sorry this incident happened.” Unfortunately, when you say “I’m sorry” after a crash, the law infers the rest. Apologies can be construed as admissions of liability.
This sin is not an unpardonable one. If you apologize, an attorney can often explain that you were just expressing sympathy. But once again, your Marietta personal injury lawyer is playing from behind.
Do Collect Evidence
After serious injury crashes, emergency responders usually arrive within a few minutes. They immediately secure the scene and attend to injured victims. They also gather evidence, but evidence collection is basically an afterthought.
So, responders only conduct cursory investigations. They talk to any witnesses who loiter at the scene and maybe take a picture or two. But that’s about it. Furthermore, even the most experienced emergency responder is not an accident reconstruction professional.
Therefore, the burden of evidence collection falls on the victim. It’s difficult or impossible to collect evidence if you are seriously injured. But try to do the following:
- Take pictures of your injuries and your vehicle’s damage,
- Get as many witness names as possible, and
- Make sure the emergency responder puts your side of the story in the police accident report.
If you call an attorney straightaway, a lawyer can probably do much of the evidence collection work. Most attorneys partner with private investigators to expedite this process.
Don’t Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
For some reason, may car crash victims believe the must give an oral statement to the other driver’s insurance company. You have no legal obligation to do so, and it’s a bad idea for several reasons.
A car crash is a nerve-wracking experience, and not just in the moments following the impact. Many car wreck victims experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms. So, when they try to recall things about the accident, they are not thinking straight. Their emotions take over.
Furthermore, insurance company telephone adjusters usually seem very friendly. But these highly-trained individuals know how to subtly extract damaging information from victims. Without even knowing it, you may be damaging your claim for damages.
So, let your Marietta personal injury attorney handle this call. The insurance company adjusted can wait a couple of days to fill out a report.
Do Call a Lawyer
This last item is probably the most important one on the list. Even if you believe you were at fault for the crash, always call a lawyer. These wrecks are always expensive from a financial and emotional standpoint. And, nearly all car crash claims have at least some financial value.
At the beginning of a claim, a Marietta personal injury attorney brings it all together.
If you do not have money for medical bills, an attorney can connect you with a doctor, usually at no upfront cost. Most attorneys send letters of protection to physicians. These letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved, so most doctors defer their bills.
Additionally, this doctor usually has special expertise in this area. Many car crash wounds, like whiplash, do not show up on X-rays and other traditional diagnostic tests. Furthermore, these injuries are difficult to treat.
Evidence collection is an important area as well. Gathering the evidence is only one part. An attorney must also take steps to preserve physical evidence, like a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. Like black boxes in commercial jets, EDRs capture and record things like vehicle speed and engine RPM.
Unless a lawyer acts fast, many insurance companies “accidentally” destroy the EDR.
Once the victim is on the road to recovery and evidence is in place, an attorney advocates for you in court. A lawyer also stands up for you in pretrial settlement negotiation sessions. All the while, your lawyer gives you solid legal advice, so you can make the best possible choices.
Work with a Hard-Hitting Lawyer
Victims and lawyers work together to obtain maximum compensation in car crash cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Marietta, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. We routinely handle matters in Cobb County and nearby jurisdictions.