Accidents often occur when we least expect them and between dealing with
the police, insurance agencies, and other involved parties, the process
of filing a personal injury claim can feel overwhelming. For many, it
can be difficult to know what steps to take, who to talk to, what not
to say, or where to turn for help. What you do after an accident can greatly
influence the outcome of your claim and it is vital to have a plan in
place. While some actions are most effective in the time immediately following
an accident, it is never too late to pursue a claim or to seek legal guidance.
Below, our blog discusses the do’s and don’ts of a personal
What to Do
Check for injuries: Among your first concerns should be the health and safety of the parties
involved in the accident. Call medical services for anyone who has received
injuries. Seeking medical attention, even for minor injuries, can provide
evidence supporting your claim.
Call the police: Law enforcement will record information relating to the accident which
can support your claim. Stay at the scene of the accident until police
arrive. Be sure to take down the officer’s information as well as
the accident report number.
Exchange information: Take down the contact and insurance information of the other individuals
involved in the accident. This can include phone numbers, names, license
plate numbers, insurance company names, insurance policy numbers, and
Gather evidence: Take pictures of anything you may feel is relevant. This can include pictures
of the scene of the accident, damage to property, and any sustained injuries.
Document any witness accounts and be sure to collect their contact information.
Notify your insurance company: Your insurance provider will also need to be informed about an accident.
Contact your representative and explain exactly what happened. It is important
to answer the company’s questions honestly. Also, keep in mind that
any conversation you have with either insurance company may be recorded.
Keep accurate records: From the earliest available moment, write down everything you can remember
about the accident. Keep detailed records of events including medical
visits, conversations with your insurance, and any change to the condition
of your health.
What to Avoid
Don’t admit fault: When speaking to police, the insurance company, or the responsible party,
do not say more than is necessary. Proving liability in an accident can
be tricky and a phrase as seemingly innocent as saying that you are sorry
may be used as evidence towards the admission of guilt.
Don’t wait to file a claim: In Louisiana, accident victims have a limited amount of time in which to
file a personal injury claim. The time frame starts on the date an accident
or injury occurred and missing a deadline can result in the forfeiture
of your right to take legal action.
Don’t lie or exaggerate: Knowingly providing an inaccurate account of events can have severe consequences
such as negating your ability to file a personal injury claim. While you
should avoid self-incrimination, it is also important to remain honest
in your interactions.
Don’t delay medical examinations: Symptoms of an injury may not be immediately apparent and only a doctor
can accurately diagnose the injuries. Accepting a settlement before understanding
the extent of your injuries can leave you with damages that are not included
in your settlement.
Don’t talk to the other driver's insurance: While some interaction with the opposing side’s insurance company
may be needed, attempting to negotiate directly may have negative consequences.
An experienced attorney can help by talking with the company and any adjusters
to see that you are treated fairly.
Don’t automatically accept a settlement: The average person often has minimal experience dealing with insurance
companies and may not know how to accurately estimate what a fair settlement
should look like. In many cases, insurance companies will leave room for
negotiation and it is important to review potential settlements with an
attorney before accepting.
Attorneys Helping the Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured through no fault of your own, the
Womac Law Firm can help you fight for every dollar that you deserve. Our
New Orleans personal injury lawyers have been helping the injured for more than three decades and have recovered
millions of dollars in settlements for past clients. If you are ready
to take legal action and hold negligent parties accountable, contact us
today and put the Womac on 'em!
Schedule a free consultation
to learn about your legal options.