A sudden and unexpected injury from a car accident can disrupt and impact your life forever. You may not be able to work or do the things you used to do. And you probably do not know the full extent you are entitled to recover from the driver who hit you. Bringing an experienced car accident attorney on board to help with your auto accident claim as soon as possible is one of the first important steps toward protecting your rights and ensuring the best recovery of your health and payment of the bills you have and will continue to incur because of the accident.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident
The actions you take immediately after an accident have a tremendous impact on the amount of money you can recover.
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. 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
Insurance companies will often ask you for multiple statements in the hope you will give conflicting answers, and they will gather medical records they feel prove your injury is not as painful or debilitating as you claim. 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 or statements to an insurance company.
It is important to act sooner rather than later when dealing with an accident. There is a limited amount of time to file a claim, known as the statute of limitations. If your claim is not filed within the New York personal injury statute of limitations, you may not be able to recover any money for your injuries or vehicle damage.
3. DOCUMENT EXPENSES AND LOST TIME FROM WORK
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, or you may miss time from work. 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 prove very helpful 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 your injuries and the damage to your vehicle as soon as possible.
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 feel we've been wronged, like getting injured by another driver in a car accident, what you might not realize is that what you say on social media could be used against you, either by the other driver's insurance company or at trial. 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, in person or online, after the accident.
WILL YOU BE ENTITLED TO RECOVER?
Whether or not you are entitled to recover from the other driver in a car accident will depend initially upon whether or not you were at fault in the accident. Meaning, did you cause the accident? As an injured victim, seeking damages for your injuries, you will bear the burden of proving the cause of the accident. Evidence including police reports, eyewitness testimony, expert testimony from accident reconstruction experts, and photos at the accident scene can all be helpful in proving your case.
You can still recover if you were partly at fault in the accident, but, because New York is a comparative negligence state, your recovery may be limited by the portion of blame the jury attributes to you as a contributing cause of the accident. Proving liability in a car accident can be one of the most difficult elements of the case and the point at which many insurance companies are able to gather sufficient evidence to deny the claim.
What Are Your Damages?
If the other driver caused the accident in which you were injured, he or she will be required, legally, to compensate you for your damages. As most drivers are insured, your damages will be paid by the other driver's insurance company. This is the reason we all get liability insurance: to cover us in case we cause injury to someone else. Meaning, you should not hesitate to seek what you are owed by an insurance company. If you were not at fault and were injured in a car accident, you are entitled to recover the following from the other driver's insurance company:
- Past and future medical bills and costs
- Wages lost due to missed work, vacation days or sick days
- A reduction in income or a permanent loss of income due to injuries or death
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety and emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages
- Compensation for loss of companionship
You can recover these damages by settling a case with the other driver's insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit. The stronger your evidence that the other driver was at fault, the more likely it is that the insurance company will settle or that you will prevail in court. As such, you need to begin building a car accident case as soon as you can after the accident, which is why it is so important to bring an experienced car accident attorney on board.
TRYING TO HANDLE YOUR CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM ALONE IS RISKY
While acting on your own behalf, it can be incredibly difficult to obtain eyewitness testimony, video footage, photographs, or other evidence that can be used to prove you were not responsible, or at least not entirely responsible, for the accident. Without an experienced attorney advising you, it is possible you may provide answers, evidence, or other records to the other driver's insurance company to hurt your case.
This is why you need a car accident lawyer working zealously on your behalf who can deal with the other driver's insurance company for you. The lawyers at Frederic R. Abramson have been helping car accident victims just like you for years with proven results and reputation. If you've been injured in a car accident, contact us today.