The actions a plaintiff takes immediately after a car crash can have a massive impact on the outcome of their personal injury claim. Here, the personal injury attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz detail some of the most important actions you should and should not take when filing a personal injury claim.
Do Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you have been involved in a crash, you should consider seeking medical attention immediately, even if you only have minimal immediate pain or symptoms. After an accident or traumatic event, the body releases adrenaline, a chemical that masks pain and allows the body to act quickly in critical situations. Many people who have been severely injured do not feel the extent of their injuries until days after the accident has occurred. Prevent further injury and trauma by seeking medical attention as soon as possible.
Prompt medical attention is not only beneficial for your health, but it also strengthens your personal injury claim. Insurance agencies and juries are less likely to understand the severity of your injuries if you fail to seek medical attention in a timely manner. By seeing a medical professional immediately after an accident, your injuries are validated in the eyes of those who can impact the level of compensation you receive from the negligent party.
Do Not Speak to the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Agency Without an Attorney
Although you are contractually obligated to cooperate with your insurance company following a crash, you are under no legal obligation to speak to the insurance agency representing the at-fault party, and it is legally advantageous to avoid any communication with them. An insurance company’s goal in speaking with a victim is to provide a way for them to admit facts that will hurt their claim of who is responsible and reduce the value of their damages. They will use anything communicated to them—whether orally or in writing—as evidence to minimize the claim. If the at-fault party’s insurance agency contacts you, inform them that your attorney will contact them directly.
Maryland is one of only four states where the principle of contributory negligence applies. Therefore, in Maryland, the plaintiff and their attorney must prove that not only the other driver is at fault, but that the plaintiff did not contribute even one percent to the cause of the crash. Insurance company representatives are trained to elicit responses that could be interpreted as assessing contributory negligence against the plaintiff. Consequently, the attorneys at AFSL strongly urge you to not speak with the insurance agency of the at-fault driver. If they should reach out to you, simply tell them they may speak with your attorney.
Do Document the Incident
Documentation is critical in a personal injury claim—this may include photos of the accident and any injuries sustained, a police report, witness statements, medical bills and more. If your injuries are severe and long-lasting, consider keeping an injury journal, where you document the condition of your injuries, how you feel and the treatments you receive. Keep all evidence pertaining to your personal injury claim in a safe place that can be accessed, should the at-fault insurance party require it, or if your claim goes to court.
Do Not Accept the First Offer the Insurance Company Makes
In an effort to avoid court and minimize time and resources spent, insurance companies will often offer an extremely low settlement to the injured party. Should the injured party accept the offer, it will bar them from collecting future damages. As a general rule, the first offer an insurance company makes does not adequately reflect the true value of your claim. Retaining legal representation will help to ensure that a low settlement offer is not accepted, and that the settlement you receive is negotiated in your best interests as an injured victim.
Do Discuss Your Claim with the Personal Injury Attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz
Personal injury claims can be complex and time-consuming affairs, and by not retaining legal counsel, a victim is likely to be offered a settlement that does not reflect the true extent of their injuries and suffering. The victim advocates at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz have years of experience helping personal injury victims and their families fight for their right to adequate compensation and will speak to the at-fault party’s insurance company directly to negotiate on your behalf. If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of another, do not wait—contact the personal attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz for a free consultation immediately.