car crash in St. Petersburg, FL

If you ever wondered what to do if you have been injured in a car accident, please refer to this list of do’s and don’ts.  If you follow my advice, it will improve your chances for a successful claim.

Do- Always Make A Police Report

It should be standard that you contact law enforcement after the car accident.  The lack of a report will slow down the insurance companies because they will have to do their own investigation.  You don’t want to be a captive to their timeline.  As a result, your car repairs and other injury payments can be delayed. Most importantly, if you don’t have a police report that finds fault, your claim is completely up to the word of the other person.  Relying on the other party to admit total fault is not a recipe for success.

Don’t- Give A Recorded Statement To Insurance

This can be a confusing situation because, after the car accident, you may be contacted by your own insurance company AND the company for the at-fault car.  While you may want to speak to them about a rental car and getting your own car fixed, you have no obligation to speak to the other insurance company about your injuries.  Both companies will ask you to give a recorded statement.  I suggest that you always speak to a personal injury lawyer first to make sure that this is ok.  Remember, whatever you say on the recorded statement, you are stuck with for the rest of the case so it is an important decision.

Do- Seek Immediate Medical Care

Perhaps one of the most important factors that the insurance company looks at is when and where you got your first medical attention after the car accident.  You have PIP (no-fault) coverage up to $10,000 for your care, so I recommend that you go to a hospital or urgent care immediately.  Err on the side of caution and go get checked out.  If you wait days after the accident and then simply report to a chiropractor, your case will have less value.  Getting a little peace of mind by getting checked out can go a long way.

Don’t- Have Gaps In Your Medical Care

Once you start your medical treatment, it is important that you follow your doctor’s advice and don’t deviate from the plan.  If you miss days or weeks, the car insurance companies will make note of that in their valuation of the claim.  Their theory is that if you miss appointments and don’t follow the doctor’s advice, then you must not be that badly injured.

Do- Be Honest If You Have  Been Injured In A Prior Accident

You likely don’t realize this, but insurance companies have a database that they share with each other of all of your prior claims.  This means that if you were in a prior car accident and received any type of insurance benefit (meaning payment for damages to your car or for medical bills), there will be a record of it and they will know about it.  If you don’t mention prior accident injuries to your doctor and the insurance company later finds out, you will have a major credibility problem.

Don’t- Post On Social Media

If you have social media accounts like Facebook or Instagram, be very careful about what you post.  One of the standard steps that the insurance adjuster will do is to look at your accounts.  And, they will try to spin anything that they find against you.  For example, if you go on a trip, they will say that your quality of life has not been affected.  If you go out to dinner and are smiling with friends or family, they will say that you do not appear to be in pain.  My best advice is to not post anything-this means don’t even get tagged in photos.  Alternatively, if the accounts are important to you make sure that they are set to private.  This step might seem like common sense, but you simply cannot give the insurance company any ammunition to use against you after the car accident.

Do- See More Than A Chiropractor

I have nothing against chiropractors.  They do a good job with how they help people-especially with back and neck injuries.  They truly try to help relieve pain and bring back range of motion.  But, their techniques can only go so far and the insurance companies know it.  Therefore, if you only get conservative treatment like physical therapy through a chiropractor, your case will have less value.  In every case, I recommend some form of treatment with a medical doctor (MD).  Whether it is an orthopedic, a neurologist, a physiatrist, etc, you need to have your injuries reviewed by someone with a different medical background. Almost all car accident injuries are permanent, so getting an analysis from an MD is very important to your health.

Don’t- Tell Your Doctor That You Are All Better

After the car accident, you might have developed a close relationship with your doctor.  Over the weeks and months, you have told him or her many of the most personal things about your health.  Your doctor may have done wonderful things to help you.  But, it is important to remember that when you injure your spine, the pain always comes back.  You simply cannot put the cat back in the bag.  So, while you may feel better for the moment, you likely will be bothered again in the weeks and months to come.  Therefore, when you are getting finished with your treatment, it is important to be cautious.  Never tell your doctor that you are completely healed.  Your doctor will love to report his/her accomplishment, but nobody-not even you-will know what will happen in the future.

Do- Contact A Car Accident Attorney

Contacting a car accident attorney is never as important as your health.  Always get emergency medical treatment and take care of yourself.  When you are ready to protect yourself and get vital information, I highly recommend speaking to someone.  It is never too soon to speak to a personal injury lawyer.  Perhaps the two most important things that a lawyer can do is to control the flow of information to the insurance company and get your medical treatment arranged.  All good car accident lawyers know doctors who specialize in these specific injuries.  Getting to a trustworthy doctor immediately will improve your chances of getting better, saving you money, and increasing the value of your case.

Should you have any questions about setting up a personal injury claim after a car accident, please contact us.  Our consultations are always free of charge.  A few-minute phone call could drastically change the direction of your future.