The sound of metal crunching against metal is, unfortunately, a dismal sound most of us will hear at some point during our "driving careers". There are no fast and easy solutions to the myriad of issues that can arise subsequent to the "crash"; however, this article will provide very general guidance on steps that individuals injured in accidents can take to make the inherently painful process as painless as possible.
• Call 911
After any collision, no matter how small, call the police. Immediate assistance from emergency personnel is critical to assure that any injuries are appropriately handled. Furthermore, the police will investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident which enables you, the injured person, to have the best possible information available when making a claim.
When being questioned by emergency personnel, do not say that you are "fine" and do not refuse offered medical help, to do so may undermine a future claim. Provide only specific answers to questions asked by the police officers and resist the urge to go "on and on". If you do not understand a question, DO NOT ANSWER IT.
• Remain Calm
The aftermath of an accident can be unnerving. Even the smallest of collisions can feel horrific both emotionally and physically. In short, take a deep breath, relax and remain calm. Do not, for example, begin jabbering away to the other driver(s)/passengers about how the accident is "your fault". In short, say as little as possible to everyone involved while fully cooperating, as set forth above, with emergency personnel.
• Obtain Medical Treatment Immediately
If you are not transported by ambulance to a medical facility, go IMMEDIATELY to the emergency room for treatment. Ensure that you are fully checked out by medical personnel, including requesting X-rays of injured body parts. Follow up the day after the accident with your Primary Care Physician. Always tell your health care provider ALL symptoms you are experiencing; now is NOT the time to be stoic.
• Cooperate with Your Insurance Company
Call your auto insurance company and make a claim under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, if available. If your insurance company says you do not have PIP coverage, ask your insurance company to send you a letter confirming your waiver, in writing, of said coverage. You will need a PIP waiver letter to obtain coverage under a health insurance policy.
Do not talk to the adverse driver's insurance carrier.
• Consider consulting a Personal Injury Lawyer
No, this is not an advertisement for my services; instead, it is an attempt to make your life easier. There is no such thing as a "simple" auto accident, particularly when you are the person the accident has impacted. The last thing you want is to spend your valuable time navigating the bureaucracy of insurance claims and the medical industrial complex; you can hire an attorney to do that for you. Better yet, most personal injury attorneys will not charge you for their time until they recover money for you (yes, just like those ads you hear on TV).
I hope you don't need the advice set forth above, but, if you do, take care of yourself, remain calm and feel better soon.
Vanessa Vanderbrug is a Personal Injury Attorney with the Kent Law Firm of Hanis Irvine Prothero, PLLC 253-520-5000, vvanderbrug@HIPLawfirm.com