At The Accident Scene
Check to make sure everyone is okay. Don't get involved in extended conversations about what you were doing, where you were going, etc. Use your cell phone. Call 911 and report the accident and any injuries. Most phones are equipped with a camera so use it to take pictures of damage to your vehicle and THE VEHICLE THAT HIT YOU! If possible, take pictures of the vehicles before they are moved. Wait for the police to arrive, in most states it's the law! Many at fault drivers will say they are in a hurry or make up some excuse to leave. They want to just "exchange information" so they can leave before the police show up. DO NOT ACCEPT THEIR OFFER! Avoid telling anyone you are NOT INJURED, you might be. It's common after an accident to experience a rush of adrenaline which masks injury symptoms. People often injured in accidents don't experience pain or symptoms until later. Sometimes days or weeks later. If possible, get checked out by paramedics and go to the hospital.
Post Accident What Do Next
Report the claim to your insurance carrier. DO NOT give any statements to ANY insurance adjusters without an attorney. DO NOT accept any money from ANY insurance companies without an attorney. Many insurance companies send representatives to the homes of accident victims within days following an accident. They bring with them a check and a release. They're gambling that you have not hired an attorney and will attempt to get you to accept an amount of money right then and there (perhaps a couple thousand dollars) in exchange for a general release (this release does exactly that, it releases the insurance company and their insured for any claims which you may have). Get medical treatment for any injuries you suffered in the accident. If you've gone to the hospital make sure to follow up with your primary care doctor or doctor of your choice (chiropractor, etc.). If you did not go to the hospital and are starting to feel pain go see a doctor, immediately!
Importance Of Medical Treatment
One of the most important aspects in evaluating how much your case is worth is the medical treatment you received. That being said, the TWO BIGGEST CASE KILLERS that will de-value your claim and/or case is a DELAY in initial treatment (waiting weeks or months before ever seeing a doctor) and GAPS in your treatment (consistent medical treatment followed by periods usually weeks, months or years of no treatment). It's important that if your doctor says I want to see you in 4 weeks or 3 months that you make the appointment then go to it. Another area of concern is physical therapy. People tend to neglect or put off their physical therapy after surgery. If you have surgery often times whether or not the surgery is successful is dependent on the hard work and effort you put in at physical therapy. Not only can it effect your case it can effect your quality of life. SO DO IT!!
Hiring An Attorney & Finishing Your Case
If you have not done so, it's time to get legal counsel. Why? Because the insurance adjuster you are dealing with has MUCH MORE experience than you do. Your attorney will help you equal the playing field and maximize your recovery. It's not uncommon for an insurance company to deny liability (refuse to pay a claim) only to pay on the claim after an attorney becomes involved in the case. Attorneys are not created equal. Interview attorneys and ask questions! Do you feel comfortable with the attorney? If the answer is "no", FIND ANOTHER ATTORNEY! REMEMBER, the attorney works for YOU! Once you've hired an attorney and completed your medical treatment your attorney will prepare and send the insurance company a demand packet (bills, medical records, photographs, etc.) demanding money for the bodily injury you suffered because of the negligence of their insured. In most cases the insurance companies respond to the demand with a monetary offer. This offer can be negotiated.
If you have been injured in an automobile crash DO NOT share it with the world. Social media has taken the world by storm and it is here to stay. IT WILL NOT HOWEVER HELP YOU WITH YOUR CASE OR CLAIM! I can't tell you how many cases have been devalued and/or lost because someone just had to post a picture or comment on Facebook or tweated something they didn't take time to think about. The post could have absolutely nothing to do with the case (often times it does not) but it could be misinterpreted, looked upon unfavorably and used as the basis to deny your claim or severely limit the offer made by the insurance company. It is much more harmful than it is beneficial. If your case goes into litigation the insurance company's attorney can try (and often does) to get access to everything from your social site (all of your photos, posts, chats, etc.). IT IS NOT WORTH IT. While your claim or case is pending it's better to communicate with your friends and family via telephone!