A car accident is a traumatic event. No one plans how they will respond. If you were hurt in a car accident, no matter how minor the collision seems to be, there are steps you should take to protect yourself and your right to compensation for any injuries you may have suffered.
Protect Yourself and Your Rights After a Car Crash
Every year, more than 3 million people are injured in car accidents. If you were hurt in a car crash, there are critical steps you can take to protect yourself, your rights, and your financial future.
Check for Injuries. Do a quick head-to-toe examination of yourself. Does anything hurt? Are you bleeding anywhere? Can you move your arms, legs, and head?
Check Your Passengers. If anyone was in the car with you, ask if they were hurt.
Check the Other Car. If you are able, get out of your car and ask the other driver if they were hurt, if their passengers were injured, and if anyone needs medical assistance.
Report the Accident. If there are serious injuries, call 9-1-1 to report an accident and request an ambulance. If there were no serious injuries, call the local police department to report the accident.
Follow Police Instructions. When the police and EMS personnel arrive, they will take over the scene. Be cooperative and follow their instructions. They will investigate the crash and gather information necessary to make a report.
Obtain Driver Contact Information. Ask the other driver(s) and their passengers for their contact information including their name, phone number, address, and insurance information. An easy way to do this is by taking a picture of everyone’s driver’s license and insurance cards.
Identify Witnesses. If there are any witnesses to the accident, ask for their name and contact information. Witnesses are not required to cooperate, but most people will be willing to help by telling police officers what they saw.
Take Pictures. Use your phone to take pictures of the accident. Include the cars, weather conditions, road signs, and road conditions.
Seek Medical Attention. If you were injured, even if your injuries seem minor, see a doctor as soon as possible. If your injuries were severe, you may be taken to the emergency room by ambulance. If not, make an appointment to see a doctor and explain that you were involved in a car accident.
Photograph Your Injuries. Take pictures of your injuries, including any bruises, cuts, and lacerations, as well as broken bones, a cast, etc.
Contact Your Insurance Company. Contact your insurance company to report the accident. If your insurance company asks for a recorded statement, tell them that you want to speak with a lawyer first. Do not discuss your injuries with an insurance representative until you have met with a lawyer.
Hire a Lawyer.Contact a lawyer to represent you in your claim. A lawyer will work with the insurance companies, gather evidence to present your case in a way that will maximize your financial recovery, and work to negotiate a resolution that will fairly compensate you for your injuries and the effect the accident had on your life.
Why Didn’t My Injuries Appear Right Away?
In the hours after a car accident, many people find that they don’t feel any pain. But a few days later, you may find that you are experiencing significant discomfort. Many people wonder, why don’t my injuries hurt right after the car crash?
A car accident is a traumatic event that triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This floods your body with adrenaline and endorphins that mask any injuries you might have sustained and any pain you might be suffering. Once things cool down and your body returns to normal, pain from your injuries may start to appear.
That’s why it’s important that you see a doctor after a car accident, even if you feel fine. Your body could be covering up the pain symptoms caused by the injuries you suffered. A doctor will perform a physical examination to identify any injuries and will prescribe a course of treatment that will help you heal.
How Will Hiring a Lawyer Help?
Your lawyer will start by identifying the other drivers and notifying their insurance companies that you are represented by an attorney. From that point forward, the insurance company should not be contacting you. All communication should go through your lawyer.
Your lawyer will gather evidence that will be submitted to the insurance company to prove your case. This often includes the police report, witness statements, and photographs of the scene of the accident, the vehicles, and your injuries. In some cases, it is clear that the other driver caused the accident and the only remaining questions are the extent of your injuries and how much the insurance company is willing to pay to settle your case. Other times, your lawyer will need to prove that the other driver caused the crash.
In addition to proving who caused the accident, your attorney will gather information to prove damages. This is the amount of money that will fairly compensate you for your injuries and the effect the crash had on your life. To prove damages, your lawyer will submit:
X-rays and scans
Photographs of your injuries
Expert reports that prove the extent of your injuries and that they were caused by the crash
The insurance company will review your demand package and make a settlement offer. The first settlement offer is usually low, and your lawyer will negotiate to try and arrive at an amount of money that will fairly compensate you. Your lawyer will communicate these settlement negotiations with you, and will never settle your case without your approval.
Sometimes a settlement cannot be reached. When this happens, your lawyer will file a lawsuit. Once a case has been filed, your lawyer will continue to try to resolve your case without going to trial. More than 90% of cases are settled. But if the insurance company does not make a settlement offer that fairly compensates you for your injuries, your lawyer will take your case to trial.
Robenalt Law — Seeking Justice for the Injured
If you were hurt in a car accident in or around Cleveland, Ohio, there are steps you need to take to protect yourself and your financial future. The experienced car accident lawyers at Robenalt Law can help. You may be entitled to compensation for:
The cost of past and future medical care and treatment
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career at a large firm in Cleveland where he defended insurance companies and policy-holders against claims of negligence. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help people who were hurt in car accidents and their families obtain the compensation they deserve.
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