If You Have Significant Injuries and You Cannot Move, Do Not Attempt To Do So But Ask For Help and For An Ambulance!
If You Are Able to Get Out of Your Car and You Can Move Around, Do the Following:
- Don’t admit fault
- Call Police
- Identify Witnesses & Obtain their names, addresses, telephone numbers – ask them to wait for police
- Obtain and exchange all information with all other drivers: Name, License Number; Tag #, Insurance Company Name, Policy Number.
- Assess Car Damage
- Take Photographs of the Car Damage on all vehicles involved (you should keep a small “throw-away” camera in your car just for this purpose)
- If Car cannot be driven, get name & telephone number of towing company and location where car will be located
- Remove any valuables from your car that you would not want to be stolen
Day 1 or Day 2:
1. Get Medical Attention If You Suspect Any Injury / Go To Hospital or Urgent Care facility or family doctor within 24 hours of collision; Go By Ambulance from the scene if appropriate.
Day 1, 2 or 3:
2. If you are called by an insurance company, do not talk to them about how the collision occurred or about your injuries. You should discuss fixing your car and getting it out of the storage lot. What you say to an insurance person now may hurt you later.
Day 2 or 3:
3. Get your car out of storage. Pay for it and you will be reimbursed! Storage charges rack up very quickly! Do not let that happen. The car should not be in storage any more than 3-4 days.
Day 2, 3 or 4:
4. Car repair and car rental. If a collision is not your fault, the other side has to supply you with a rental car while yours is being repaired. If your car is drivable and safe to drive and only has some aesthetic damage, you only get rental while yours is being repaired. We can assist with all of these matters.
5. Get additional medical attention. Orthopaedic Doctor, Physical Therapist, Chiropractor, Neurologist are all good if needed. Family doctor, internist, insurance plan “primary care physician” are probably not appropriate. Many doctors will work “on assignment” with you and your attorney, meaning you do not have to pay them up front, as they agree to wait until your case is settled to get paid. Take lots of pictures of any visible injuries. Take them at least once a week until no longer visible. Write the date taken on the back of the photo.
6. Notify your employer of the collision and supply employer with Work Restriction or Disability Certificate from your doctor.
7. Obtain a notebook and keep a “diary” of events and problems and recovery time. Anything at all that occurs to you, even if you think it is insignificant, may be important, but forgotten, later, if not recorded now. Your pain. What you can and cannot do. Missed work. Missed school. Trouble sleeping. Irritability. Inability to exercise. Weight gain. Missed trips or travel plans. Etc.
8. Collect records and bills. While a $3.00 aspirin receipt won’t significantly increase the value of your claim, it is good evidence of your pain and the need for medication! Give these to an attorney.
During “medical treatment” stage of client’s case:
9. Attorney gathers all records about your case: Police Report; Witness Statements; Car Damage Photographs; Car Repair Estimates or bills; Medical records, Medical Bills, Lost Wage Documentation; Injury Photographs.
After medical treatment has been completed:
10. Medical Care Completed and You are “better”. Attorney reviews and evaluates file, “final” records are gathered.
Typically within 7-14 days after all documents are gathered:
11. Letter to you from Attorney advising you of his opinion about the value of your case. The letter requires your signature in order to proceed to negotiate a settlement. Meeting with an attorney if the client desires.
Typically within 5-6 weeks after “Client Authorization Letter” (see #9) is signed:
12. “Demand” package is sent to the insurance company and settlement negotiations begin and are usually concluded. If unable to reach client approved settlement, meeting with the client to discuss options, which include Arbitration, Mediation, or Litigation (going to court).
13. Arbitration and Mediation usually occur 3-4 months after negotiations stall.
14. The trial occurs (if the case cannot be settled) typically within one year after the lawsuit is filed.