5 Important Things to Do After a Car Accident

Man sits near car accident, wondering what to do next

Unfortunately, motor vehicle collisions are a common occurrence on Indiana roadways. Often, you may be involved in a collision through no fault of your own. If you are involved in a collision, whether you feel that you need medical attention or not, call 911.

Many injuries become apparent only after the adrenaline and shock of the event wear off. Police response is necessary not only to document what occurred but is also an important step to ensure that evidence at the scene is not lost and witnesses can be identified. What next? Our Indianapolis injury attorney explains more.

1. Seek Medical Attention

If you are injured, seek medical attention. If your injuries do not require you to be seen in the Emergency Department, go to your family physician. If you do not have a family physician, cannot quickly establish care with one, or will not be able to see your physician in short order, an urgent care facility may be appropriate.

Even if you at first believe your injuries will likely go away in a few days, go to a doctor. "Toughing it out" is not only the wrong answer for returning to good health, but is also potentially detrimental to any potential claim you may have from the collision.

First and foremost, it is important that any injury that can be treated gets treated. Life is a hectic endeavor, planning to go to the doctor in a couple of days often turns into weeks or months. If you do not seek medical attention as soon as you are aware of an issue, the insurance company will be able to cast doubt on whether your injuries were caused by the collision or came from something else.

Many injuries seem insignificant but in time, without attention, grow problematic. In that situation, if the injured person waits to get the treatment he or she not only creates an opening for the insurance company to argue about what caused the injuries but also creates an opportunity to argue that the injured person contributed to the injuries through inaction.

Your medical records will be the primary evidence to support your claim. Telling your family and friends about the extent of your injuries or writing in a diary or journal about your pain without that medical documentation is not sufficient. If an expert health care provider cannot testify about the existence and extent of your injuries, you will not be able to prove your claim in court. If you have been injured in a collision, seek medical attention sooner rather than later.

2. Follow the Advice and Orders of Your Health Care Provider

Seeking medical attention is an important first step.

Following your doctor’s advice is just as important. Your doctor may prescribe medicine or physical therapy to help with your injuries. To heal from your injuries, as well as to pursue a claim for personal injury, you must do what your doctor says. Not following through with recommended treatment will be discovered by the insurance company and the defense and it will be used against you.

If you disagree with your doctor, or if you feel the treatment is not helping, discuss the issue with your doctor. Your doctor will most likely guide you in a different direction if you are honest. However, if you simply fail to follow your doctor’s advice, your claim will lose value because you are not doing everything you can do to physically recover. The insurance company will argue that you have failed to "mitigate your damages" and will ask the jury to give you less compensation for your injuries.

3. Do Not Talk to the Insurance Company Before Talking to an Attorney

The goal of the insurance company is to settle your claim as quickly and for as little compensation as possible. To this end, the insurance company may offer you a settlement immediately. It is impossible to know the value of your case until your medical treatment has been completed and you have physically

The insurance company is only concerned with paying you as little as possible. They do not care about your injuries. They do not care about how your life has been impacted. They want to close your file as soon as they can. Accepting a quick settlement is certainly the easiest thing to do, but you will never be fully compensated for your injuries and damages.

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4. When Seeking Counsel, Be Honest

Your personal injury attorney is on your side and communications with your attorney are privileged. Good attorneys have one goal: helping you. It is easier for attorneys to help you if they know all the facts. Attorneys can deal with facts that you might believe could harm your case, but when your credibility is in question because you tried to cover something up, you are in trouble. Be honest about your medical history. Be honest about any criminal history. Be honest about any prior accidents.

5. Do Not Discuss the Wreck or Your Injuries on Social Media

These days, many of us like to share life updates with our friends and family on social media, but know this: the insurance company is not your friend. To maximize your claim, do not post anything about the wreck or your injuries on social media. We recommend you follow these steps to prevent Social Media from sinking your case. If you feel you must post about the wreck or your injuries, make sure your privacy settings are as secure as possible.

As soon as the insurance company is made aware of your claim, they will attempt to find any publicly available information that you may have shared. Your first thought might be, "well, I’m just telling the truth about what happened to me." And while this may be accurate; it is never wise to allow the insurance company to have access to any information about your claim until the appropriate time.

Your medical records will be the most crucial piece of evidence in any injury claim and you cannot control what your medical records will say. Insurance companies will look for any possible way to attack your credibility and if they can argue there is a conflict between what your doctors have reported about your injuries and what you have shared on social media they will use it to attack your credibility.

Even if your privacy settings are as secure as possible, any information you put on social media is potentially admissible in court. If it is necessary to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for your injuries, you can be asked questions under oath about what information you have shared on social media or can be forced to turn over documentation of posts.

Even if the insurance company cannot access your social media, you will have to testify about what you have shared. The big takeaway is not to post on social media about the accident or your injuries. This may seem unfair, but it is necessary. 

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller
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