A car crash can be a life-altering event, and even a seemingly minor fender-bender should be taken seriously. But many people fail to take basic steps to protect themselves and their rights after a crash; they’re either too busy, too upset, or too eager to put the whole unpleasant experience behind them and get back to their daily routine. Some tend to minimize the event as “no big deal,” but that attitude can be costly in the long run.
Here are three of the most common misconceptions that help shape how people respond to car crashes — misconceptions that can adversely affect the outcome of your case.
“NO HARM DONE”
You’re not bleeding, and you don’t want to make a big fuss. You might think you weren’t injured in the collision, but it’s important to get checked out as soon as possible by medical professionals. Even if you decline a trip to the emergency room, it makes sense to get a thorough physical exam within 72 hours of the accident.
There are several reasons for this. Some severe injuries, including head trauma and whiplash, may not be apparent immediately after the accident and only manifest symptoms hours or days later. (Even low-speed impacts can result in serious brain trauma.) That initial soreness you feel might be just being “shook up,” but it could also be a sign of a herniated disc—something that might not be properly diagnosed without an x-ray or MRI. Identifying soft-tissue damage or other injuries early in the process can be a key to getting better sooner, so it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly after a car accident. If you’re uncertain about your legal rights or need assistance in navigating the process, consulting with a car accident lawyer can provide you with the guidance and support you need.
In addition to the health concerns, there are also practical reasons for getting checked out connected to any claim you might make as a result of the injury. A delay in seeking treatment can influence how an insurance company evaluates your claim down the line; early detection and treatment of injuries helps your case as well as your body.
“WE CAN STRAIGHTEN THIS ALL OUT LATER”
Like most people, you have places to go and people to see, and this crash is going to make you late for your next appointment. But taking a few minutes after the accident to document the crash and deal with the necessary paperwork can save you a lot of time and grief later.
Your first step, after checking for any injuries, should be to call 911 and file an accident report with the police. Colorado law requires that a report be filed in any crash involving personal injury or property damage, and filing a report creates a record of events that may prove to be important down the line in determining who’s at fault.
But don’t stop there. Use a smart phone or camera to take photos of any injuries, damage to your vehicle, insurance cards and driver’s license information for all parties involved. Take more pictures than you think you’ll need of injuries and vehicle damage, from various distances and angles, with flash and without. Talk to witnesses and obtain contact information — and, if possible, get brief written accounts of what they saw and heard. Putting important details on paper now can help protect your claim from possible memory lapses in the months to follow.
“I DON’T NEED A LAWYER”
If you’re thinking about handling your accident claim on your own because you assume that doing so will save you time and money, think again. Not every accident requires legal representation, but serious cases do. You should consult a personal injury attorney to determine if you have a case. Most firms that focus on personal injury proceed on a contingency basis; they don’t get paid unless you do, and that means they have no incentive to mislead you about whether you have a legitimate claim or not. At Franklin D. Azar & Associates, we offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation, so there’s really no downside in having your case evaluated by an experienced accident attorney.
In addition to making sure you get a proper medical evaluation, an experienced accident lawyer will know how to assess other ways the crash has impacted your life, including losses you’ve incurred that you may not realize are compensable, such as lost wages and pain and suffering. Attorneys know how to negotiate with an insurance company to obtain fair compensation for these claims.
An attorney may also be required to address other factors that can affect your claim. The case may need additional investigation, beyond what the police chose to do. There may be disputes over liability, witnesses to locate, an issue over a defective car part or whether the other driver carried adequate insurance, or a dispute with your own insurance company over coverage.
Covering all the bases may sound like a lot of bother, but it pays off down the line. Most personal injury cases are settled without ever having to go to court. And, on average, plaintiffs who hired an attorney end up with much larger settlements than those who didn’t. A study of insurance payouts in 6000 accident cases showed that claimants who hired an attorney received settlements that were, on average, 40 percent higher than those paid to people who didn’t have an attorney.
THE CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Greeley, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, bicycle, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at (303) 900-5595, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.