What You Should and Shouldn’t Do After a Personal Injury Accident

Unfortunately, personal injury accidents are far more common than you may expect or want to believe.

If you’re injured due to another person’s deliberate actions or negligence, there are several key things that you should and shouldn’t do.

To help you during this critical time, here are the key steps to take when hurt by another person’s oversight and the ones you want to avoid taking.

A Woman with Smartphone Helping Man Worker after an Accident at the Construction Site.

Steps to Take After a Personal Injury Accident

Experiencing a personal injury can be traumatic, stressful, and overwhelming. To ensure you protect your legal rights, there are a few things you do not want to put off.

Get Immediate Medical Attention

You always hear about making your health a top priority. Now is the time to put this into practice.

Even if you only experience a few cuts, bumps, and bruises, you still want to visit a licensed physician.

If your injuries are not serious, go ahead and skip the emergency room, but make an appointment with a physician.

Not only will a medical exam help ensure you don’t have any internal injuries, but it also creates a record of the accident.

If you do decide to file a personal injury claim, you will need to submit medical documentation.

Document the Accident

You don’t need to get out the measuring tape and start drawing chalk lines—you’re not examining the scene of a crime here, only documenting what happened.

This includes taking photos of the accident scene and of any resulting damage. 

Collect information from the at-fault party, including all of their insurance details and contact information. If there are any witnesses to your accident, go ahead and take down their account.

Don’t forget to get their contact information since your attorney and the defendant’s lawyer may want to question them at a later date.

File a Police Report

Some personal injury accidents don’t need the police to show up on the scene, which typically applies to some minor accidents.

Even if you skip calling the police, you will still want to file a report. You can usually file a police report in person or online.

Both parties’ insurance companies will want to see the official accident report. Sometimes, it’s necessary for the insurance adjuster to approve your claim.

Your attorney will also want a copy of the police report if your personal injury case goes to trial.

Have Evidence of All Damages

You do not have to wait until your personal injury case is settled to repair any property damage.

You can even replace a totaled vehicle without hurting your legal case.

You need to have evidence of the damage, which can be photos, bills from repair shops, and other similar documentation.

Medical records will support your personal injury claim but don’t forget about other types of damages.

Lost wages, prescription costs, and ongoing medical bills also count as potential damages.

Basically, you want to save every receipt and scrap of paper about your personal injury accident.

Your attorney can best decide what is relevant and what is not necessary to support your case.

What Not to Do After a Personal Injury Accident

Some of the things outlined below are straightforward and common sense, while others on this list may actually surprise you.

Don’t Offer Any Apologies

Apologizing is a nicety ingrained in most people. However, it’s the last thing you want to do after being involved in an accident.

The minute you apologize, it can be seen as an admission of guilt. 

If you decide to file a personal injury claim, your apology will make it much harder for your attorney to prove you’re not the one at fault.

Keep the Accident Details Private

When you’re involved in an accident, you probably want to tell everyone you know. Don’t do it!

If you start discussing details of the accident with friends and family, they may end up as witnesses for the defense. This not only creates an uncomfortable situation, but it can also negatively affect your case.

You can let everyone know you were involved in an accident but try to keep the more specific details to yourself.

Don’t Accept a Settlement Offer without an Attorney’s Advice

Insurance companies will pressure you to accept the first offer.

The insurance adjuster may even show up in your hospital room with a pen and paper ready for you to sign.

Ignore the pressure and talk to an attorney. The first offer you receive is generally significantly lower than the total amount of your damages.

If you agree to the settlement offer, it’s legally binding. This means you cannot go back at a later date and submit a claim for additional funds.

Your personal injury case is considered settled by the courts and insurance company.

Don’t Sign Medical Forms or Answer Questions For the Insurance Company

Insurance companies are always looking for ways to limit payout amounts. Remember, insurers are in the business of making money, not paying it out.

A common tactic insurance providers use to reduce claim amounts is to get a statement from the injured party.

The insurance company can use your statement, whether it’s written or recorded, against you in your personal injury case.

You also want to deny the insurance company access to your medical records. Chances are, they are not checking up on your well-being.

Instead, the insurance provider is searching for evidence of any pre-existing conditions that can minimize the severity of the injuries sustained in the accident.

Don’t Accept a Settlement While You’re Under a Physician’s Care

Even after you turn down the first settlement offer, don’t be surprised if you receive a second or even a third offer.

Even though these offers are typically higher than the original, it’s still a good idea to politely say no.

You still don’t know the full extent of your injuries or how long you will require medical care.

If you accept the offer, you will be responsible for paying any additional medical expenses.

Pay Attention to Deadlines and Contact an Attorney Immediately

You only have a specific amount of time to file a personal injury claim, typically around one year from the date of the accident.

Talk to an attorney about your rights and the options for your particular case.

They can help ensure that your rights are properly protected and can help you receive the rightful compensation you deserve for your injuries.