Important Steps to Maximize Your Personal Injury Claims
Whether it’s due to cell phone use, following at an unsafe distance, or just not paying attention, car accidents occur all the time in Los Angeles and Ventura County. However, very few people know what to do when they are involved in one.
Here are some steps you should try to take if possible:
- 1. Self-Assessment: Determine whether you have any injuries.
- 2. Check on all Passengers: Anyone with head/neck pain should not move.
- 3. Call the Police: Especially if there is a lot of property damage or anyone is injured.
- 4. Exchange Information: Names, Numbers, Addresses, Insurance Info, License Plate #, Driver’s License #
- 5. Take Photo’s of Property Damage: Important to show the damage that was caused by the accident.
- 6. Talk to Witnesses: If police write a report they should include witnesses. You may also want to ask locals if accidents have happened at this particular place before. Obtain names, numbers, addresses, statements.
- 7. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION ASAP: Probably the most important step. Even if you do not think your injuries are severe, you should get examined immediately. Many injuries are not felt immediately following an accident. Emergency room or primary care physician ASAP. X-Rays and full check up.
- 8. Inform Your Insurance Company:
- 9. Journal Your Medical Treatment and Injuries: via Good Record Keeping and Use of a Journal:
- 10. Get a Property Damage Valuation:
- 11. Be Careful Who You Talk To!: It is never a good idea to speak to a representative of the other driver’s insurance company. Although they seem nice and helpful, their job is to pay you the least amount possible for your injuries.
- 12. Be Extremely Cautious of Settlement Offers:
- 13. Consider Hiring an Experienced Flahavan Law Office Accident Attorney:
Unfortunately, insurance companies are aware that many people do not know what steps they should take when they’ve been in an accident. They often take advantage of individuals who do not know their rights and the potential value of their claim.
Every case is different. The following steps may or may not apply depending on your case. However, these are steps that typically would apply to car accident cases. You should try to follow these steps if you or someone you know are involved in a car accident.
Although not performing one or more of these steps does not necessarily effect the value of your case, the more steps that are not taken the more difficult a case usually becomes. Whether you have taken all of these steps or not you should contact a Flahavan Law Office personal injury lawyer immediately to instruct you on how to deal with your particular situation as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more your case is at risk of potentially losing value.
Steps to take if you’ve been involved in a car accident:
The first thing a person should do is determine how they feel. A lot of times the significance of injuries are not apparent immediately after an accident. The body produces adrenaline out of the fear or surprise of an accident that we cannot determine how injured we truly are until long after. It is important to not let your emotions get the best of you. Stay as calm as possible. Try to determine how you feel. Do not move too quickly if you do not have to.
- Check on All Passengers
If there was anyone else in the car you should determine whether or not they have been injured. Other people in a car accident should be instructed not to move too quickly as well. If a person is unconscious or has neck or back pain, do not move them until qualified medical help arrives, unless a hazard requires moving the person.
- Call the Police
You should always call the police if someone is injured or there is significant property damage. Usually the responding officer(s) will fill out a police report. If someone is able to interact with the police officer(s) they should obtain the name and badge number of the responding officer(s) and ask how to obtain a copy of the report.
- Exchange Information
When you speak to other drivers it is important to remain calm and keep your emotions in check. A lot of times actions and words immediately after an accident are skewed by the Defense in order to make it seem like you were not truly injured in an accident. Be cordial to every other party involved.
You will want to obtain names, numbers, addresses, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are passengers, you want to also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses.
You SHOULD NOT apologize for anything at the scene. If the car in front of you stopped suddenly, and you stopped suddenly, and the car behind you failed to stop suddenly, it is not your fault. You shouldn’t apologize on behalf of another driver either. You may be admitting to legal liability for what happened, even if you actually weren’t responsible. It may not be clear at the time of the accident who is at fault, so try not to admit guilt unintentionally or unnecessarily.
- Take Photos of the Property Damage
The fact that most phones can take pictures now can be a very beneficial tool for your case. If you or someone else is capable, you should take photographs of the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicles involved after the collision. There are several reasons why photos can be useful. If you have pictures of your car before an accident they can be used to compare the before and after. They can help your insurance adjuster determine how much you should be compensated for the property damage to your car. The Defendant’s insurance company may try to argue that some of the damage was not caused in the accident and that it existed before or was caused after the accident. Photos immediately after the accident help to prove the damage was caused in the accident.
- Talk to Witnesses and Locals
Many times a police officer will talk to witnesses and detail their accounts in a police report. However, if the police are not called or you have the opportunity and the ability to do so, you should ask every witness what he or she saw. Get their names, numbers, or addresses, if possible.
If you want to do some investigating on your own, you may also want to ask locals or people familiar with the area is there have been accidents at this particular place before. Eventually, this is something that your attorney will look into. If the intersection or area was known to be unsafe and whether it could have been contributing factor to your accident. Your injuries are the most important thing you should be focused on, so talking to witnesses or locals should only be done if you are physically okay to do so or at a later date.
- Seek Medical Treatment As Soon As Possible
As mentioned above, often times our body produces adrenaline and we are so full of emotion that we cannot tell how injured we are right after an accident occurs. If you have been in an injury it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately. Even if you think you are okay, you should go to the emergency room or your primary care physician immediately and make sure. If you are experiencing any dizziness, lightheadedness or head and neck pain you should take an ambulance to the hospital if one is available.
One of the most common mistakes people make is saying they are “fine” and not seeking medical attention to make sure. As the day progresses they begin to feel pain in their neck or back and take over the counter medication hoping it will go away. Unfortunately, these types of conditions usually worsen over the next 48 hours. Eventually they get in to see the doctor and begin getting treatment. Although understandable, Defense attorney’s use this 48 hour span of not getting treatment to argue that you were not really that injured in the accident. The most prudent thing someone can do for themselves and for their potential claim is to seek medical attention immediately, even if it is just for reassurance.
- Inform Your Insurance Company
You should tell your insurance company that you’ve been in an accident. You can cooperate with your own insurance company. Explain the facts clearly. If you are planning on hiring an attorney you should let them know. Be honest. Obtain and review any police report filed, so you can point out who broke what traffic laws or who was at fault.
- Journal Your Medical Treatment and Injuries
We suggest you keep a journal and document all doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that you receive treatment from. In addition you should document each medical provider that referred you to other caregivers. Keep a detailed account of all the treatments and/or medications you receive. You should also ask for copies of all your medical reports and bills. These will help to prove your medical expenses later.
Medical expenses are generally easy to document, the trickier aspect is pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. At Flahavan Law Office, we have spent years successfully maximizing clients claims by proving these damages. The revolves working with our client and constant communication with them. know the best way to go about proving these Keep a record of how your injuries have impacted your daily life. Include any missed workdays, list any routine activities you can’t undertake, and describe how the injuries have affected your family life
- Get a Property Damage Valuation
Obtain your insurance company’s damage valuation. If for some reason you do not like how your insurance company has valued your vehicle you can try to obtain a couple independent repair estimates or replacement quotes. Discuss the damage valuation with the adjuster in light of the recent independent estimates you obtained. Typically this isn’t an issue and insurance companies tend to be reasonable when it comes to repairing vehicles. However, if you feel they are not being reasonable it is something you can discuss with an attorney.
- Be Careful Who You Talk To!
Other than your lawyer, your insurance company, and the police you should not speak to anyone regarding your accident. In addition, you should never speak to another party’s insurance company without the knowledge of your attorney or insurer. The insurance company for an at-fault driver will always reach out in attempt to limit their own liability. If you are contacted by them, be polite, but ask them to call your attorney. It is important to tell your lawyer, or insurer, about the call and exactly what was said.
- Be Wary of Early Settlement Offers
As a general rule, you should consult an attorney before signing any settlement documents. Before you do so, you should need to be careful that you are being offered an amount that fully compensates you for all of your injuries. As discussed above, a lot of physical injuries do not show up or reach their highest level of pain or discomfort for days, weeks, or months after an accident. Most people do not know they there are a lot of things that they can be compensated for in addition to medical bills. Some examples include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages etc. At Flahavan Law Offices we specialize in presenting all of these losses to the insurance company in the best way possible to maximize your claim.
- Consider Hiring a Flahavan Law Office Attorney
If anyone was injured in the accident, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you maximize your recovery if you’re injured. At Flahavan Law Offices we work on a contingency fee basis. That means that we will pay for all of the legal expenses involved in carrying out your claim and we will only recover those expenses if we win your case for you. We believe this allows our clients to fully focus on their recovery without having to stress and worry about paying legal bills and dealing with other insurance companies. Allow us to put our experience and knowledge to work for you while you get the treatment necessary to get your life back to where it was before the accident.