If you're in an accident and injured, what you do next can potentially make or break your future case. And you should do them even if your first instinct is not to pursue a claim. You never know what could happen later, and sometimes a lawsuit is the only way you can recover potentially significant amounts of money for medical bills, future medical care, lost income or to repair or replace property that was also damaged in the accident.
1. Get Medical Attention
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's very important, and not just for your health. The information the doctor who sees you just after the accident is important evidence. If you wait too long, it can be argued (sometimes successfully) that the injury was sustained outside the actual accident. A doctor who sees you immediately may be able to provide vital evidence and advise you about whether the injury has the potential to require ongoing care. Even if you think you aren't that injured, a doctor who knows what type of accident you've had knows to check for things you may not realize could later become problems. Either way, advise the physician that you've been in an accident and the nature of the accident and ask make sure they take appropriate notes about what is discovered. In certain circumstances, failure to seek immediate medical attention can result in a reduction of your benefits. It’s best to check with a legal professional regarding the specifics.
2. Collect and Keep Evidence
If you don't require immediate medical attention and it's safe to do so, get pictures of the accident scene, including any property damage (to both cars in the case of a car accident), hazards that may have contributed to your accident (e.g., debris, slick spots, lack of appropriate warning signs), eye witness contact information and statements, even images of your or other people's injuries. Again, though, do not risk additional injury and certainly don't take safety risks like taking photos in traffic. This kind of evidence can be invaluable if there's a discrepancy between your version of events and the defendant's (or their insurance company's).
You'll also want to pull copies of your insurance policies, keep copies of all your medical bills (including physical therapy and counseling related to the accident), make copies of any work or school excuses you're given by doctors (they usually don't end up in your medical files, but may be important if you're suing for lost income), the receipts for replacement or rentals related to temporarily or permanently lost property (i.e., a rental car) and any other expenses you believe are related to your accident. Even if you're not sure what qualifies as something you can include in your suit, just save it… your Kissimmee accident lawyer can sort it all out later.
3. Keep a Journal
In addition to the evidence, you'll want to keep a journal so you can refer to it later for both a timeline and to remind yourself of details. Keep in mind that if a case goes to trial, it may be a year or more before you testify. What if you are asked how many days you walked with a limp? Your answer will need to be consistent with any medical evidence and testimony. Just jot down things you did each day, as they might relate to your case. Days you have to call off work as the result of your injury, family or other important activities you missed or had to leave early. Don't forget to include general physical or emotional stuff. Did you have trouble getting up the stairs at the museum or a client's office? Did you opt out of a favorite activity because you were scared to drive? Forbid your kids from doing something you didn't previously mind because you were worried about their safety as a result of your accident?
It's better to have too much info than too little, though there's no need to detail the conversation you had with a friend about her unrelated divorce. Just be aware that it's possible your journal could end up in evidence too, meaning the other attorneys might get a peek.
4. Remember: Loose Lips Sink Ships
Sounds a bit melodramatic, but it's true. Keep quiet. In the case of a car accident, you should certainly contact your own insurance company, but keep it factual until you've spoken with an attorney: time and date of the accident, brief description of what happened (sans any emotional context), whether or not you filed a police report and with what agency, whether or not the other person has insurance (in the case of a car accident) and the insurance policy information of the other driver and the other driver's contact information.
If you are contacted by the other driver's insurance company, all they need to know is that your personal injury attorney will contact them. If you don't have an attorney yet, just tell them you'll get back to them after you have everything in order. Don't tell them how you are, don't accept any settlements (or even say they sound fair) and certainly don't admit any kind of fault.
Additionally, don't talk about your accident on social media or post any pictures of events or activities on social media. In fact, abstain from social media (at least until you've discussed it with your attorney).
How to Get an Accident Lawyer
If you've been injured in an accident in the Kissimmee, Florida, area, call the experienced personal injury lawyers at Draper Law Offices at 866.767.4711 for a free, no-obligation consultation.