One of the most important things you must do after an accident is get every piece of information that is relevant to your case. This would include insurance information for all parties involved, any and all reports created concerning the accident and injuries (both medical and investigative) and all documentation you yourself has created - there are many people that keep disposable cameras in their glove boxes for the sole reason that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you have a camera or camera phone be certain to document the accident as best you can.
Provide Notice (Nothing More)
Providing prompt notice to all potentially liability parties is the next important step. This is true even if you are uncertain you will have much in terms of damages. Most insurance policies provide that notice must be given within a certain time period after a loss (accident) and often must be provided in writing to a specific location. You can either provide this notice yourself or retain an attorney to assist you/take your case. If you hire an attorney the insurance companies will no longer communicate with you, but will work with your attorney. This is often a relief for many people as they can focus on getting better without all the stress and concerns of dealing with an insurance company and all the complexities of the claims and legal process. IF you chose not to hire an attorney, only provide the required notice, nothing more. At some point, maybe immediately, insurance companies will contact you, ask you a lot of questions (corner you) and likely seek to resolve it fast.
Keep Things Close to Your Hip
Don't provide the insurance companies more than is necessary. If you are planning on making a claim, it is best to complete your treatment and then present your case in one organized settlement offer or demand. The Insurance companies will try to resolve the matter as quickly as possible and will require a release. This is when it is helpful to have an attorney involved as they know the process, are experienced in negotiations and generally know what your injuries are worth (to a degree).
Of importance, know the statute of limitations in your jurisdiction. While you may not be through with your treatment, you only have a limited amount of time to make a claim under the law. Sometimes it is necessary to file a lawsuit to preserve your claim. Don't fall asleep on the clock; be aware of how much time you have. it would also be helpful to contact an attorney.
Be realistic in your expectations. This can work both ways. Sometimes people are in need of money immediately and may fail to comprehend the long lasting nature of their injuries; you don't want to end up having spent all the money you recovered from the insurance companies/individuals and five years down the road have long lasting effects from the accident. At the same time, if you treated for three months with a chiropractor don't expect to get a windfall. An insurance company has seen thousands of claims similar to yours (at least most claims) and they will quickly set a range for settlement. They will consider all factors, including your injuries, the cost of them hiring an attorney and the cost to go to court. Consider all this. Don't think you will be able to retire. Don't be greedy.
Hire an Attorney
This is not always necessary, and may not be immediately apparent, but there are plenty of studies and plenty of people who will confirm that people who have attorneys will get more money and will have a generally better experience. As stated above, it makes life a lot easier the sooner an attorney is involved. You can work on getting your life back in order without all the hassles of the insurance and legal systems. Attorneys went through the education and training to help people like you. If nothing else, at least give a few attorneys a call and see if it is what is best for you - make sure you are comfortable with your attorney and have the same goals.
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