What Should I Do Following a Maryland Automobile Accident?
Above all, the first thing to do following a severe Maryland automobile accident is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once you and your passengers are out of danger medically, you should contact your insurance company as well as the police, if they weren’t already alerted to the accident. When it comes to dealing with your insurance company, however, keep in mind that they are not your friend when it comes to filing a claim.
It’s difficult to imagine the confusion and chaos that can follow in the minutes to hours following a car or truck crash. Even a minor of car, truck or motorcycle crash can rattle the most levelheaded person. Having a simple list of “things to do” after a Maryland traffic collision can be extremely beneficial for anyone who hopes at some point to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent motorist who caused the accident.
In the aftermath of a serious collision, the injured parties may have trouble collecting their thoughts, much less remembering a list of things to do while experiencing physical pain and emotional distress. With all this in mind, here is a list of 10 important steps to remember following a bad Maryland traffic accident:
1) Seek medical help as soon as possible. For serious car accidents, it is likely that one or more of the vehicles’ occupants will be taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room for treatment of their injuries. Even if you feel your injuries are not serious enough to merit a trip to the ER, it is in your best interest to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out potentially hidden injuries.
Your health, and that of your family, should always be a primary concern. Even when you feel you’re not in need of medical attention, you should allow a medical professional to examine you for possible unseen injury(s). Ask most any doctor and he or she will tell you that many automobile accidents result in injuries that don’t immediately present with noticeable symptoms. This includes head, neck and spinal injuries, which are notorious for showing up many days or weeks following a serious Maryland traffic accident.
Because your body is designed to protect itself (through the natural release of adrenaline) during a violent physical event such as a car or motorcycle crash. As such, once an accident victim has had some time to “settle down,” he or she will begin to feel aches and pains as they make themselves more and more evident, which is an indication of physical injury to portions of the body.
As overly cautious as it may seem, an invitation to go to the local emergency room following a traffic accident is often the right thing to do, not only for your health, but also if you decide to file any kind of personal injury claim in the future. In other words, a car or commercial trucking accident victim only improves their chances of obtaining full compensation for damages if he or she begins to document their injuries immediately following a Maryland automobile collision.
2) Repeat these words: “The insurance company is NOT your friend.” While you should contact your insurance company immediately following a traffic accident, you should not in any way accept their offer of a monetary settlement without first consulting with a qualified Maryland personal injury lawyer.
Over the years, insurance companies have made a very good business out of appearing caring and helpful to their policyholders, but beneath that thoughtful façade is a company that is in the business of generating a profit, first and foremost. Despite clever marketing campaigns to the contrary, insurance companies are more interested in minimizing the cost of your claim rather than bailing you out of a costly accident. Quite simply, they will do their best to avoid paying you the full and fair value of your losses, be that property damages or medical costs.
3) Definitely, talk with a skilled Maryland auto accident attorney. While retaining a lawyer is not always necessary to resolve an automobile or motorcycle accident case, it is still important to consult with one in order to understand your options going forward. Certainly, speaking with a Maryland attorney skilled in the area of personal injury law BEFORE you accept any kind of insurance settlement.
This is because insurance companies are not obliged to inform you of your legal rights. As a matter of fact, as mentioned previously, these companies have every reason to keep you in the dark as to your rights under Maryland law. Be proactive and protect yourself ahead of time by consulting an attorney as soon as possible following a serious injury accident.
4) Be sure to report the accident to the police. Even if the police do not respond to the scene of the accident, it is vital that the authorities be informed so that a police report can be written up. This is an important piece of evidence in any potential personal injury lawsuit. What’s more, your insurance company may require a police report to process your accident claim. In cases, such as minor fend-bender collisions, the police have been known to decline to respond to the accident. If so, you should take it upon yourself to visit the police department in whose jurisdiction the crash occurred and file your own accident report, if only to document the event and protect your rights.
5) Never admit fault in the event of a traffic accident; that is the job of the experts. As the victim of a Maryland car, truck or motorcycle accident, you should not even speculate as to how the accident occurred, nor to who may have been responsible for the incident. Leave those theories to the police and other accident investigators.
A serious automobile accident can have multiple causal factors. If you admit fault to the responding police officer, the other motorist, your insurance company, or even a bystander who witnessed the crash, the insurance company could use your statements as an admission of responsibility, even if the ensuing investigation determines that your actions were not the cause of the collision.
6) Take copious photos of the crash scene, the vehicles involved and the traffic and weather conditions at the time of the incident. It seems that everyone has a smartphone these days, so use yours to make a photographic “record” of the event. Naturally, if your injuries are such that you are taken to the local ER, it will be difficult, if not impossible to personally do this. If you are not critically injured, it may be possible to take some photos before seeking medical attention. Just remember that your health is paramount; never do anything that would in any way compromise your wellbeing by delaying a trip to the ER or postponing other critical medical care.
7) Talk to eyewitnesses to the accident. Bystanders often have a front-row seat to many car or motorcycle collisions. There is no reason you cannot speak to these witnesses and get their account of the event. At the very least, you should ask them for their names and contact information so that your attorney can follow up with them at a later date.
8) Be certain to keep good records of everything that transpires following a Maryland auto accident. This includes keeping track of your hospitalization, surgical procedures resulting from the injuries sustained in the crash, follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, prescriptions and other related expenses; basically everything related to the accident. Don’t worry how insignificant an item may or may not be — each piece of that information could help your case; your lawyer will know what to do with your documentation, which will be used to help establish the monetary damages needed for a credible personal injury claim.
9) Make sure to attend everyone of your scheduled doctors’ appointments. While it may seem less important once you’re feeling a bit better, it is still important to go to all of your follow-up appointments. This includes following through with any and all of the medical specialists that your doctor has recommended you see. The insurance company will be very diligent in checking whether or not you skipped or canceled any medical or physical therapy appointments; if you did, it is possible that their lawyers will argue that you are not seriously injured, or that you have not taken your injuries seriously enough to mitigate their effect.
10) Be aware of what you or your family or friends post online. Social media is a big part of everyone’s lives these days, but careless comments about your health, medical treatments or the traffic accident itself may jeopardize your personal injury claim. Too many people share their personal information and other details about their lives without considering the impact of their statements. It’s important to remember that when one has filed or intends to file a personal injury lawsuit, less is certainly more when it comes to the Internet. Insurance companies know the power of the Web, and their lawyers are very clever in scouring social media sites for evidence that can help their case and possible derail your claim.
Rather than try to decide what is good or bad to say online, simply make it a point not to discuss your case or talk about your injuries in any way while your case is ongoing. If you feel you have to share certain details about the accident or your injuries with friends and family, do so in person and, even then, consult with your attorney to make sure you won’t inadvertently ruin your chances for a favorable outcome to your case.
If you have been injured in a Maryland car, truck or motorcycle accident, the skilled legal staff at Lebowitz & Mhzen, LLC, is ready and willing to assist you with your case. Contact us today to discuss your personal injury claim. The initial consultation is free and you are under no obligation.