Part II: What Should I do if I’ve Been Injured in an Auto Accident?
This is the second installment of our two-part blog series in which our Oklahoma car accident attorney discusses steps you should take if you’ve been injured in an automobile accident. (Find the first installment here.) If you have specific questions, we invite you to contact the Hedrick Law Firm to learn about your rights.
Take Pictures and Get the Names and Contact Information of Witnesses:
Sometimes, due to your injuries, it may not be possible for you to take pictures of the scene. If you can, this may be important to your case later on, especially if fault is contested by the other party or their insurance company/defense attorneys. In this day and age, with cameras on almost every cell phone, even if you are unable to get photos, those who witnessed the accident, or passengers in your vehicle may be able to take photos. Consequently, in addition to taking photos, you should try to get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident and may be able to provide information as to which driver caused the accident later on. Usually, this is something the police will do, but some witnesses may leave prior to police arriving. It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to request this information, if your injuries allow.
Do Not Sign a Release Immediately Following an Accident:
A common tactic among insurance companies is to procure immediate settlement of cases before the injured party has had an opportunity to determine the extent of their injuries, or while they are still treating for those injuries. This usually occurs where the insurance adjuster will make an offer of settlement immediately following the accident for far less than the value of the claim. As part of this offer, however, the insurance company will require you to sign a release waiving any and all claims, which includes those that you may not even know exist. You should not sign any documents from the insurance company until they have been reviewed by an experienced Oklahoma car accident lawyer, so you can learn about your rights and legal options.
Do Not Agree to Settle for Policy Limits Without First Discussing Your Claim With An Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyer:
While it might seem reasonable to settle with the adjuster for policy limits, it may not be in your best interest. Again, any settlement will require that you sign a release that waives all claims. Policy limits can be extremely inadequate, especially if the other driver only carries the minimum coverage that is required under Oklahoma law. It is important not to waive your rights without legal advice because you might have the right to recover more against an excess liability carrier, other defendants, or underinsured motorist coverage.
Don’t Go It Alone – Seek Out the Representation of an Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney:
Although some people attempt to handle their own personal injury claim, complex legal standards, evidentiary requirements, and procedural hurdles make the civil litigation system virtually impossible to navigate without an experienced lawyer. The cost of pursuing a claim can be tens of thousands of dollars, so most people cannot afford the war chest necessary to take on large insurance companies in court. The best approach is to work with an experienced personal injury attorney with a track record of obtaining large judgements and/or settlements in similar types of cases.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, our Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyer has successfully represented many car crash victims in obtaining compensation for their injuries. At Hedrick Law Firm, we are here to help. Contact our firm today at 405-361-7844 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding filing your claim.
Steps To Take If You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident?
This is the first of a two-part series in which our Oklahoma car accident attorney discusses steps you should take if you’ve been injured in an automobile accident. This is especially important because when you are experiencing intense pain and the emotional distress associated with a car accident, your judgment can be understandably impaired. If you’ve been injured, you should take steps to protect yourself and ensure your physical and emotional health are taken care of. Since the liability of the other driver is not automatic, the actions an injury victim takes following a motor vehicle crash can have a profound impact on an individual’s ability to recover for their injuries and resulting medical care, time off work, and future pain and suffering.
At the Hedrick Law Firm we have made it our goal to tenaciously pursue the fullest financial recovery for victims of negligent drivers. Therefore, this two-part blog series is designed to provide you with proper information that will help to ensure you recover for your injuries.
Contact Police and Always Exchange Insurance Information if You Are Involved in an Auto Accident:
Drivers who do not immediately notice injuries sometimes fail to contact police, or fail to even exchange information with the other driver. The decision to forgo contacting police or obtaining driver’s license, insurance, and contact information from the other driver can have devastating consequences if you subsequently experience injury symptoms. The assumption that a lack of immediate injury at the scene of the accident means you were not injured is absolutely false. It is common for injuries to manifest in the hours subsequent to an auto accident – usually after the adrenaline and shock of the accident have diminished. Therefore, if you’ve been involved in an auto accident, you should contact police and exchange information with the other driver.
Never Agree to a Recorded Statement or In-Person Visit from the Other Driver’s Insurance Adjuster Without First Speaking to an Attorney:
Even if the insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver seems amicable, a recorded statement or face-to-face meeting without legal representation is an extremely bad idea. The job of the insurance adjuster for the other driver is to minimize the liability and payout of claims. It is not to ensure you are adequately compensated for your injuries and time off work. The adjuster will not be looking out for your interests and can use a recorded statement or in-person meeting to avoid or minimize payment of your claim. Recorded statements or in-person visits are not designed to facilitate settlement of your claim (although the adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company might tell you that this is the case). The purpose is to preserve a record of you saying things that undermine your claim. The answers you give to questions might be used to shift blame for the accident to you, or to establish that your loss is not as substantial as you are claiming.
Promptly Obtain Medical Attention If You Are Injured:
Sometimes, auto accident victims avoid ambulance rides or emergency room visits for fear of running up a hospital bill. Sometimes, the emotional upheaval and shock associated with an auto accident can mask symptoms arising from car crash injuries. Failing to obtain prompt medical attention at the first sign of injuries, however, can have devastating consequences, including a worsening prognosis, and the loss of valuable medical evidence. Further, it is a common tactic of insurance companies and defense attorneys to point to any delay in treatment as evidence that a claimant did not suffer serious injury, or that your injuries are not a result of the auto accident.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, our Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyer is here to help. Melissa Hedrick has successfully represented many car crash victims in obtaining compensation for their injuries. Contact our firm today at 405-361-7844 to schedule your free consultation, so we can answer any questions you may have regarding filing your claim.