1. SEEK MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
Now is not the time to be a hero. If you are in pain or there is any question in your mind immediately after the accident that you have suffered some kind of injury, do not avoid seeking medical help out of pride, fear or inconvenience. Getting you back walking, driving and working is the most important thing and early treatment ensures you the best recovery possible as injuries can worsen over time if not treated. As soon as you feel any pain or suspect you have suffered some kind of injury as a result of the car accident seek medical help as soon as possible. Waiting to treat your injuries can severely limit your legal rights as insurance companies often try to argue the fact that you did not seek medical help at all, or sooner, shows your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
2. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY BEFORE TALKING TO AN INSURANCE COMPANY
Contact an experienced and qualified attorney as soon as possible after the accident to advise you about your rights prior to talking to or providing any documents, statements or other information to an insurance company. Insurance companies will often ask you for multiple statements in the hope you will give conflicting answers, they will ask you for bank or medical records the company believe prove your injury is not as painful or debilitating as it is, or gather witness statements, photos and other evidence the insurance company feels supports a finding that you caused the accident so they can deny your claim. You need someone working from the time of the accident to make sure your claim for damages and your legal rights are protected. Do not give any statements to an insurance company until you have talked to an attorney.
3. DOCUMENT EXPENSES AND LOST TIME FROM WORK
Auto accidents will often make your day-to-day life more complicated, painful and costly, particularly if you were injured. You may need to go to the hospital, to the doctor, to rehab, taking time out of your normal routine to devote to your physical recovery. You may have out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays and gas to/from doctor's visits. You will likely have to miss time from work if you are unable to perform your job until you recover or if you have to undergo treatment, surgery, rehab, follow-up appointments, etc. You may also have to hire out services you typically could perform yourself but you no longer can because of the accident, such as paying someone to mow your grass, help clean the house or assist with child care. Documenting and maintaining receipts and records of these expenses will go a long way toward ensuring you obtain full recovery from the insurance company that has a duty to pay these costs.
4. TAKE AND SAVE PHOTOS AND EVIDENCE FROM THE SCENE
If you took photos at the scene of the accident, those will likely be very important later. Be sure to save them and back them up so they are not lost. If you did not take photos at the scene of the accident, take and save photos of the damage to your vehicle as soon as possible. If you gathered other evidence at the scene—for example, if you wrote down the other driver's contact and/or insurance information or gathered names and contact information of witnesses, etc.—preserve and save that information as well and back it up. This may prove to be crucial evidence later to ensure you are able to fight an insurance company that is trying to wrongfully show you caused the accident, your injuries were not caused by the accident, or your injuries are not as severe as they are so that they can deny your auto accident claim.
5. DO NOT POST ABOUT THE ACCIDENT OR YOUR INJURIES ON FACEBOOK
Although social media is often the first place we go to today to "vent" when we get injured in something like a car accident, what you might not realize is that what you say on social media could be used against you. A recent court decision in Florida upheld what many courts around the country have already said: in a court case, opposing attorneys can often get information from your private social media and email accounts and use that against you in your suit to recover damages from an automobile accident. For example, even if you did not cause the accident, if you make a statement on Facebook saying how scary the accident was and how bad you feel that the other driver was injured, an insurance company may try to use this statement to prove you caused the accident when you did not. While you will undoubtedly be shaken up and anxious after an accident, try to remember the phrase, "everything you say can and will be used against you," to help you use good judgment in the statements you make at the scene of the accident.
What you do immediately after an auto accident can have a dramatic impact on your legal rights and your ability to recover losses and damages after the accident, which is why our premiere Pensacola car accident lawyers at Taylor, Warren & Weidner always strive to educate victims on the best actions to take immediately after an accident and how to navigate interactions with the insurance company to ensure the insurance company does not treat you unfairly.