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 injury claim.
What to Do
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 addresses.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.