Eight Steps You Should Take Post Car Accident
An accident that leaves you suffering from serious injuries causes devastating limitations to your mobility, your occupation, and your hobbies. It can also leave you confused about what happens next. You may have financial problems to deal with, appointments to attend, and decisions to make about your future. If someone else caused your injuries, you may also need to file a personal injury claim. Did you suffer serious injuries in an accident? Add these important items to your To-Do list.
1. Take careful note of any instructions issued by your doctors
You may find it helpful to have someone else with you to take notes while the doctor lets you know what you need to do after your injury. Your doctor may also provide paperwork with instructions for aftercare or exercises you need to do while you recover. Carefully follow any instructions issued by your doctors. These instructions can help with your recovery. If you ignore the instructions issued by your doctor, it could compromise your recovery and, in some cases, limit the funds you can receive for your injuries. Make appointments for physical therapy and follow up care as instructed by your doctors, rather than attempting to avoid those appointments.
You should also keep track of any paperwork provided by your doctors after your hospital visit and any appointments. Keep track of scans and x-rays as well as paperwork detailing the extent of your injuries. You may need all of this information to help seek compensation for your injuries in a personal injury claim.
2. Ask about what modifications you need to make to help you function with your injuries
Even relatively minor injuries can require modifications and assistance to help you get around more easily. For example, if you have a broken leg in a cast, you might need a shower chair or grab bars to help you balance while getting in and out of the bath. You might need to cover the cast with a garbage bag or a special cast bag to prevent it from getting wet. With more serious injuries, you may need to make more extensive—and more long-term—modifications to your life and your home to increase your independence and your mobility.
If you have a spinal cord injury, for example, you may need to install wheelchair ramps or widen doorways throughout your home. Victims with amputations may need to install grab bars throughout the house. Talk with your doctor and physical therapist about what modifications individuals with your injuries typically make, then decide what modifications you will need for your specific lifestyle.
Once you know what modifications or assistive devices you will need, do your best to acquire the ones you need most. Keep in mind what you can financially afford, even if you plan to file a personal injury claim, since it may take a long time before you have the funds you need in your hands. You may need to schedule a contractor to visit your home, ideally before your return. You may also need to rent or purchase durable medical equipment that will make your life easier during your recovery.
3. Write down or record your statement about what happened during the accident
As soon as possible after the accident, ideally before talking to anyone else about the accident, sit down and write down your statement of what occurred during the accident. Include anything you remember: factors that contributed to the accident, the actions of the other driver, and anything you noticed at the scene. You may want to include photos from the accident scene, if you took any, in your report. In your statement, try to avoid accepting responsibility for the accident.
Many people want to be polite as they create their accident reports, trying to alleviate the responsible party’s guilt. In this case, however, you want to create a clear, factual recitation of events, ideally without implicating yourself in any way or making emotionally-based statements. Do not allow your emotions from the accident to color the report, if possible. Never automatically accept fault in an accident, whether giving a statement at the scene or talking with an insurance company after the accident.
4. Contact your health insurance company
You may need to let your health insurance company know that you suffered serious injuries. Your health insurance company can also provide more information about what the company will cover following your accident. You may need to know:
- How much coverage your health insurance company offers for physical therapy. Some policies, for example, may allow you to use only a select number of visits per year, regardless of the extent of your injuries. After that, your health insurance company will no longer offer coverage for future visits. When you know how many visits your health insurance company will provide, you may modify your treatment plan accordingly.
- How much you will need to pay out of pocket. Your personal injury protection insurance will likely cover the first $10,000 of your medical expenses after your deductible. Talk with your health insurance company to learn more about what expenses you will need to cover out of pocket throughout the treatment process.
- Under what circumstances your health insurance company will cover a stay in a rehabilitation facility. In some cases, severe injuries after an accident may require you to spend time in a long-term care facility. Talk with your health insurance company to understand what circumstances will need to occur for the company to pay for that stay, and for how long it will offer coverage.
- What durable medical equipment your insurance company will cover, and what you will need to get that coverage. With a broken leg, for example, you may want a scooter as well as crutches. Will your insurance company cover it? Do you need a prescription from your doctor to get that coverage? You may also want to ask your insurance company about coverage for prosthetic devices if you amputated a limb after an accident or how much coverage the company will offer for a wheelchair if you suffered spinal cord damage that will lead to long-term mobility limitations.
5. Contact your auto insurance company
If you suffered injuries in an auto accident, including an accident with a big truck, while riding a motorcycle, or as a pedestrian, get in touch with your auto insurance company. Your auto insurance company may offer valuable assistance as you handle your claim, including:
- Helping get you on the road again faster. In some cases, your auto insurance company may pay to have your car repaired or to replace important items like car seats in the car, then go after compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
- Canceling your policy or writing a policy for a new vehicle, if needed. If you totaled your car in an accident you may need to cancel your current policy and start coverage on a new vehicle. Your insurance company can help take care of those essential tasks.
- Reviewing your current coverage. Following an accident, you may realize that your current coverage does not adequately cover your needs. For example, if you drive an expensive vehicle, you may realize that you need to add underinsured motorist coverage to your policy. If you face substantial medical expenses following your accident, you may realize that you need to increase your personal injury protection insurance to help protect you against the possibility of future accidents.
Your auto insurance company may also offer valuable advice about how to proceed in filing your personal injury claim. For minor accidents, your car insurance company can help you seek the compensation you deserve. For more serious accidents, on the other hand, you may need more legal help.
6. Contact the company you work for
Your employer will need to know about your accident as soon as possible. Severe injuries may prevent you from returning to work for some time after your accident. In a worst-case scenario, you may not have the ability to return to your former profession or to complete the same job responsibilities you did before the accident. When you talk with your employer, ask:
- How many sick days you can use during the recovery process. Your employer may have limitations concerning how many consecutive sick days you can take following a serious accident.
- How many personal days you can add to your sick time. In some cases, you may add your personal time to your sick time to give you more time to recover.
- Whether you can work from home during your recovery, especially if you can work on a limited basis. In some cases, you might have the ability to work from a comfortable chair or couch in your home in spite of your inability to get into the office. You might choose to complete some job responsibilities each day, even if you cannot put in a full day. Not only will this keep your mind engaged during your recovery, which can help alleviate boredom and depression, it can help you save some of your sick time.
- What modifications you can use if you do return to work. Some employers may modify your job responsibilities to allow you to return to work sooner. If you work in a highly physical position, for example, your employer might allow you to do paperwork during your recovery. You might have the option to use a special chair. Some employers will prefer to provide as many modifications as possible to allow you to return to work quickly, while others may prefer that you stay out of work until you make a full recovery.
7. Get in touch with an attorney
If you suffer serious injuries in an accident, an attorney can offer many key advantages. First and foremost, an attorney can help you better understand your rights and the compensation you deserve following an accident with serious injuries. Many attorneys will provide a free consultation, which can give you a chance to ask questions about the claims process following a serious accident and how much compensation you should expect to receive. To choose a personal injury attorney, consider:
- Does the attorney have experience in the specific type of injury you suffered? An attorney who has worked with this type of injury before might have a better understanding of both your medical expenses and how your injuries have the potential to impact your life, including what pain and suffering you may face.
- What successful outcomes has the attorney seen in the past? Take a look at the attorney’s past results for other clients. You want an attorney who has achieved strong results for clients in the past.
- Can you speak with a past client of the attorney? A past client can give you a better idea of exactly what to expect from the attorney while moving through the claims process.
- How does the attorney choose to communicate with clients? Will you receive regular communications even if nothing moves with your case, or will you need to contact the attorney for updates or if you have any questions?
8. Document the aftermath
As you recover, your injuries may go through multiple different stages. Document your recovery clearly, including photos of your injuries. Some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, might not show immediately. You can still keep track of your recovery as you progress, however. Documenting your recovery can help show how far you come following your accident as well as showing how your injuries continue to limit you long after the accident itself. You may also find that clear documentation of your recovery helps establish the full extent of your injuries when you move through the claims process.
Handling the aftermath of an accident can leave you dizzy and confused. By working with an experienced personal injury lawyer, however, you can alleviate much of the stress that goes along with the process. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible after your accident can make it substantially easier to start collecting evidence and putting together your claim.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765