Published on July 10, 2017
Accidents are stressful on their own, but the truth is that you can make things even worse by failing to take simple yet crucial steps right from the accident scene. Make sure you take all the steps below in order to give yourself the best odds for your claim and avoid the common mistakes which can seriously hurt your case.
File a police report.
This is the first document insurance companies look at to determine who is at fault, so it is the most important. If you leave the scene of accident without calling the police or before they arrive, you could lose your entire claim or wind up getting blamed for the accident, even if it was not your fault.
Make sure you and all your passengers are listed in the police report.
In Florida, if you aren’t in the police report, it is assumed that you were not in the accident. If you don’t make sure you are included in the police report, it makes it more difficult to prove that you were involved in the accident and can make things much more complicated and time-consuming.
Seek medical attention right away.
Firstly, Florida personal injury protection (PIP) laws require you to report any injuries within the first 14 days of the date of accident. If you fail to do so, you risk losing your $10,000 PIP no-fault benefits. You can read more about PIP laws and what your insurance covers here. It is your responsibility to prove that you are injured. Many people get caught up with other post-accident burdens such as bills and car repairs that they put their own health aside and fail to seek medical attention right away. If you take too long to seek medical attention, your insurance company might claim that you weren’t injured in the accident or that you were injured from something that happened after the the accident. If you don’t think you are injured to the point that you need to go to the hospital or emergency room, visit an urgent care center or chiropractor to avoid the hefty bills- just make sure you receive some form of medical attention. Failing to do so will usually result in heavier financial burdens out-of-pocket for you.
Be consistent with your treatment.
If you aren’t sure where you can receive treatment with your insurance plan, it’s a good idea to ask legal experts who can send you to the right place to avoid risking diminishing your claim. If you receive treatment from a hospital and fail to follow up with the required treatment, insurance companies can take into account the gap in treatment when making an offer. The longer you wait, the lower the offer will be.
Mention every single area of pain, even areas of slight pain.
All painful areas on your body following an accident are important to mention. What’s even more important is to tell your doctor and make sure it is recorded. For example, if you notice acute pain in your lower back and a slight pain in your right arm- tell the doctor about both. If you feel one area of pain is unimportant because the pain is more intense or concentrated on a different area- mention both areas anyways, because it may be important down the road.
This is because area with more significant pain is treated and may heal, but the slight pain in the other area may end up becoming more intense over time and cause even more serious problems if left unattended. Many injuries that may later cause major issues such as surgery can often take a while to manifest themselves, so it’s important to mention them when the pain starts, even if it seems less significant than other areas of pain. If you wait too long, insurance agencies will look for any other possible condition or event unrelated to the accident which may have induced the injury. This will make it much more difficult to get bills for any surgeries and/or other treatment covered by the insurance agencies.
Don’t downsize your pain or try to play the system.
Some people are afraid that if they are honest about their level of pain, doctors will recommend injections or surgery. If the pain is extreme but minimal pain is reported to the doctor, insurance companies will take that into consideration and the offer will be lower. If you have pain but say you don’t, insurance companies will offer less, even if MRI results show herniated disks. Diminishing your pain and not getting proper treatment in such instances will lower the offer made by the insurance company because those medical records are what the insurance companies will base their offer on. Lying to either your attorney or your doctor will never help your case.
Be consistent with your treatment.
We’re stressed that medical records are your proof that you are injured to your insurance company. If you are in so much pain that you don’t want to leave the house, that’s even more of a reason to go to treatment on that day. If you only have visits on your “good” days, your medical records will reflect the better days versus the days you are in the most pain. Following doctors’ orders and getting the right treatment will provide you with a win-win scenario; less pain, more money. Failing to follow consistent treatment will leave you with a lose-lose; more pain, less money.
Don’t be afraid to receive the right treatment.
MRIs are the key to proving injuries after an accident. MRIs are literally are a photo of what is causing your pain. You can learn more about MRIs after an accident by clicking here. They don’t produce radiation and all you do is lie down while the machine takes pictures of your areas of focus. For those who are claustrophobic, there are more open machines which produce decent quality image without causing additional stress to the patient. Those who refuse to receive an MRI scan and go against their doctors’ recommendations risk having insurance agencies claiming they aren’t injured. Insurance companies believe those who are truly injured and in pain will receive treatment because nobody want to be in pain. If you do get injections or surgery while your claim is pending, the insurance company is legally obligated to pay for those expenses, so don’t wait- once a case is closed, it cannot be reopened.
Beware of your “friendly” insurance adjusters.
Claims adjusters are trained to do everything in their power to pay as little as possible in settlement payouts. The insurance adjuster is not your friend and he or she is not calling to “check up” on you. Their job is to be nice to keep you from hiring an attorney and make you think you don’t need one. Sometimes, insurance companies will offer you money right away to try to get you to sign a settlement paper before you hire an attorney. Never take it without consulting with a lawyer- consulting with a lawyer is usually free. You have nothing to lose by consulting an attorney, and more to lose by accepting an offer. Insurance companies are a business, not a charity. Those who sign off on settlements right away and don’t realize they have a injuries or serious injuries right away end up injured, in pain, and with no money.
As we’ve just mentioned, consulting with an attorney is free, so you usually have more to gain and nothing to lose by doing so. Even if you don’t need to open a claim, it’s better safe than sorry. Aside from dealing with endless headaches with records and documents and insurance agencies for you, lawyers know where you can receive the best treatment. Some surgeons are great with patients but terrible in the operating room, while others drink all night and perform surgery the next morning. An attorney’s job is to keep you as safe as possible and give you the best treatment while making sure you follow everything the way you should while they handle the legal aspect of your case. The sooner you hire an attorney, the more likely you are to receive the right treatment, a generous settlement, and undergo a smooth recovery process. The longer you wait, the more likely to severely reduce your compensation benefits.
Be careful who you’re dealing with.
Many lawyers have never filed a lawsuit. Others push their clients to do surgery when they don’t need to. Some think every case should go to trial. It’s quite simple; during your consultation with your attorney, they will explain anything you have questions about and you have the right to ask any questions about their previous experience. Attorneys who care don’t charge for a consultation and will cater to your needs as much as they can. We carefully pick our attorneys and consult with you first before matching you with the right one. All our attorneys have years of experience in the personal injury field, including car, truck, bicycle, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents, in addition to dog bite accidents, worker’s compensation, and slip & falls.
It’s important to seek the right treatment as soon as possible so you can go through the best immediate post-accident care and get the best therapy for you. If you are unsure about what to do after you’ve been injured in an accident, contact us, so we can provide you with a medical center nearest you for your injuries, and get your claim taken care of by aggressive, knowledgeable attorneys who have over 35 years of experience in the personal injury field. Call 1-800-INJURED today to receive outstanding care and service from our network of legal and medical teams of experts.
Category: Personal Injury