Every year, car crashes seriously injure millions of Americans. So, the chances are that you or a loved one will be a victim. Most of these injuries are permanently disabling, at least to an extent. Such serious injuries often mean tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills and emotional distress which is difficult to calculate. As a result, these victims are entitled to substantial compensation.
They say that unless police solve a serious crime in the first forty-eight hours, it’s likely to remain unsolved. This same principle applies to vehicle collision claims. Frequently, claims are won or lost in the immediate wake of the accident, before a Lexington personal injury attorney gets involved in the case. Below are some things to do, and not do, which can make or break your claim for fair compensation.
DO Stop and Render Aid
Even if the other driver was at fault, always stop at the soonest and safest possible time and place. Kentucky’s hit-and-run law applies to both tortfeasors (negligent drivers) and victims.
The “stop” portion is mandatory, but the “render aid” portion is optional. That’s a good thing, because even though Kentucky has a Good Samaritan law, it only goes so far. In some situations, you could be held liable for injuries which you cause, perhaps by dragging a victim to a safer location.
There are some practical issues as well. For example, if you do not remain at the scene, the police report will not reflect your side of the story or even include all the relevant circumstances. Without this evidence, it’s almost impossible to obtain fair compensation in a car wreck claim.
DON’T Say “I’m Sorry”
In the everyday world, especially in the South, many people apologize to express sympathy. If your neighbor gets sick, you might say “I’m sorry,” even though you had nothing to do with the illness. That’s understood.
Civil claims, including car wreck claims, are different. Apologies could be construed as admissions of liability. Once you apologize, especially if there were witnesses, it’s impossible to take those words back.
On a related note, be careful about what you post on social media. It’s perfectly fine to state that you were in an accident and give a brief update about your health status. But don’t give any details, don’t include a hyperlink to a news story, and definitely don’t make any conclusory statements.
Instead of telling the other driver “I’m sorry,” try to say something like “How can I help you?” Better yet, don’t say anything at all.
DO Go to the Doctor
After they sustain concussions, many athletes tell their coaches they “feel fine” and they can go back into the game. These athletes aren’t lying. The brain conceals its own injuries, so these athletes honestly don’t know how badly they are hurt.
Vehicle collisions work the same way. Head injuries are very common injuries in vehicle wrecks. These victims often “feel fine,” so they refuse medical treatment. Early intervention is critical in head injury cases. Once more advanced symptoms develop, these injuries are very difficult to treat.
There are legal issues as well. If you do not go to the doctor right away, the insurance company might later claim that your injuries must not have been very severe. You might or might not be seriously hurt. But a doctor must always make that call.
DON’T Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Somehow, many people have the impression that they have a legal obligation to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. That’s simply not true. And, in many cases, such statements can seriously damage your claim.
Telephone adjusters sound friendly. Furthermore, we’ve all seen the TV commercials in which one call to the insurance company fixes everything. But if you were hurt in an accident, the insurance company is not “on your side.” Insurance companies make money when they collect premiums and lose money when they pay claims.
To avoid paying, insurance companies train telephone adjusters to extract damaging information from accident victims. Since these calls are recorded “for quality and training purposes,” insurance company lawyers gleefully introduce these transcripts in court.
Eventually, the other driver’s insurance company needs to hear your side of the story. But that moment can wait. Let your attorney handle this call.
Be smart about how to preserve your vehicle collision claim. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money. #goodelawyers