Getting into a car accident is a traumatic and emotional experience, but this is just the time that it’s important to try to keep a clear head. This is true especially when the accident may not have been your fault, because you’ll have to protect yourself and safeguard your rights. While a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you, there are also more immediate concerns that will require your attention.
Immediately Following the Automobile Accident
Even though you’re physically shaken and possibly feeling frightened, you’ll have to try to act at the scene. Your first priority is to assess your own physical condition. If you’re severely injured, the best thing you can do is await emergency first responders. Let others take of assessing the scene at that time.
However, if you are able to move about, you may be the one who will have to call for emergency assistance. People often assume the person who calls for help is presumed to be at fault for the accident, but this isn’t true. The important thing is to get help to arrive as quickly as possible.
Next, you should document the evidence, which will help your personal injury lawyer later in preparing your case. This means gathering contact information and insurance details from the other drivers, as well as the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses at the scene. Another important thing you can do is to use your phone’s camera to take photos of the scene. By focusing on injuries and property damages, you will have proof that can help you pursue a personal injury claim down the road.
Seeking Medical Attention After an Accident
Whether your case is settled out of court or goes to trial, any personal injury claim must be able to show that you acted to mitigate the severity of your injuries. This means you must seek a medical evaluation and treatment within a reasonable time frame. While some states may not assign a specific period of time, they also don’t want people putting off treatment just to maximize medical costs and boost the amount a defendant must pay in damages. If it can be shown that you deliberately put off receiving medical care, the jury may find you partly liable for your injuries in a personal injury claim.
Some people decline to get a medical evaluation just because they don’t “feel” injured. This can also be a mistake. There are many types of injuries that can take a considerable amount of time to develop far enough to cause perceptible symptoms. By the time you begin to feel the injuries, you may have already signed off on a personal injury settlement and you won’t have the money to pay for the treatment of these newly developed conditions. Traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries, and back injuries commonly take days or even weeks to fully develop. This is why you should undergo a full medical evaluation after any accident.
When is it Time to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
While receiving medical treatment should be your first priority, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible as well. Very soon after the accident, an insurance adjuster working for the at-fault driver’s insurance company will contact you and offer a settlement. This will be a low settlement and he will likely attempt to strong-arm you into accepting it. This is because he wants you to take a lower settlement, before the full extent of your injuries and property damages are known. Additionally, he will want you to sign off on the settlement without seeking the advice of a personal injury lawyer.
Once you sign off on a settlement offer, you will forfeit any right you have to seek additional damages. This is why you shouldn’t sign anything, until after you have consulted an experienced lawyer. An attorney who has expertise in personal injury law will know what types of damages you’re eligible to receive, what information about your injuries will affect your entitlement to damages, and how to negotiate with insurance companies.
If your case does go to trial, your attorney will already be up to speed on the facts of the case. Since personal injury lawyers work for a contingency, you won’t have to worry about paying his fee up front. This is done so you can get the help you need without having to add to the sudden financial burden the accident has created.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, The Gorospe Law Group personal injury law firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma can assist you to help you claim the compensation you deserve.
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