Smith Horras, P.A. Attorneys At Law : Auto Accident FAQ

What should I do if I’ve been involved in a car accident?

On the Scene: First, it is important to stay calm. Call law enforcement and wait for help to arrive. If you feel that you have been injured, advise dispatch that you will need emergency transport to a hospital. Do not make any statements to the other driver. Have your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration out and provide that information to the officer on the scene. Ask the officer to obtain the other driver’s insurance information. If the other driver is driving a work vehicle or a vehicle belonging to another person obtain the insurance information for both the driver and the owner of the vehicle. Again advise the officer that you believe you may have suffered injuries if you feel you have been injured. If the officer declines to provide ambulance services, seek treatment immediately by having a family member or friend take you from the scene to the nearest hospital. You are not required to provide a statement to the officer on the scene, however, if the other driver is at fault, it will likely be in your interest to cooperate with law enforcement. If you do provide a statement be honest about how the accident occurred. Do not speculate or offer a response if you do not know the answer. Ask the officer for a copy of the on scene report and seek whether the officer will be citing the other driver for the accident.

Do not feel you need to give the officer a detailed account of your injuries. Simply advising the officer that you believe you have suffered injuries is adequate. Do advise ambulance personnel of all your areas of pain and discomfort however.

If possible take digital photos of the scene, the vehicles involved and any visible injuries you or others have. If your vehicle is at all disabled have it towed from the scene. The officer can assist you with contacting a towing company. Advise your insurance company of the accident and provide them with the on scene report.

After the Accident:

At the hospital: The diagnosis, cause and treatment of your injuries is the province of a trained medical physician. Oftentimes injuries do not present themselves for several hours or days after the accident. Be aware of any new aches or pains and seek medical treatment immediately should these develop over the course of the next few days. Whether you are transported to the hospital from the scene or seek medical attention later, inform the treatment provider of the accident and EVERY affected area of your body. Seek referrals from medical doctors before you obtain physical therapy or chiropractic care. Continue to seek care as ordered, follow up if the pain does not subside or if you notice new pain, and do not stop with medical care until you are released. If your physician advises you that you have work or activity restrictions ask him/her to document each and every restriction fully.

It is unlikely that the other driver’s insurance will pay for any medical expenses until the case is resolved. Demand that the medical provider bill your personal medical insurance or medical payment coverage under your auto policy. Your provider should not wait until the conclusion of the case for payment or send you to collections if you have other insurance. Although you may be required to reimburse your health or auto insurance, there are good reasons to send the bills through your insurer.

Employment: Your physician may advise you to stay home from work. He or she should be willing to provide documentation regarding the amount of time off and the reason you are unable to attend work. Provide this documentation to your employer for your employee file. Have your employer reflect in your pay stubs the days of missed work and your rate of pay. Have your physician update this documentation each time you see him/her.

Insurance: You are simply a number to an insurance adjustor. The goal of the adjustor is to resolve the claim as cheaply as possible. Some do nothing and do not respond and some use high pressure tactics to settle the claim well below the real value or before you know the extent of your injuries. You are not required to speak with the other driver’s insurance. Do not give a written or recorded statement to any insurance adjuster, sign any documents, including any medical release involving your claim, and do not discuss how the accident occurred with others. Do not participate in activities that are inconsistent with the restrictions provided by your medical providers as the insurance company ay hire a private investigator that will document such behavior. Do start a journal to record how the injuries are affecting your life, work and other daily activities.

If you have been injured by the fault of others, consult with an attorney immediately. There are important time limitations on your personal injury claim. The attorneys at Smith Horras, P.A. have the knowledge and experience to get you the compensation you deserve.