What Should I Do After an Accident?
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Although the following advice doesn't guarantee you a result, it is what we as lawyers suggest that you immediately do after an accident.
Seek Medical Attention
Clearly convey all of your personal injuries to the attending physician or emergency services personnel and explain how you sustained your injuries. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, and a physical performed by your physician or other qualified medical professional can check for injuries that went unnoticed right after the accident.
Reporting your injuries will be memorialized in your personal records, which will help doctors manage your treatments. However, it will also provide evidence that your injuries are connected to the accident, which is necessary in your case to establish that the accident caused the injuries. Beyond legal reasons, nothing is more important than your health.
Contact Law Enforcement & Your Insurance Carrier
After an accident, contact and make a report with local law enforcement and inform your insurance carrier as soon as possible. If you are in a car accident, no matter what the other driver tells you, you should always call the police to have an official report made.
Be cautious about accepting an early settlement offer from your insurance company or the insurance company of any other driver involved in the accident. Oftentimes, medical problems caused by an accident may take time to develop. If you accept a premature settlement, you may find yourself unable to make a legal claim for late-developing medical conditions that may require expensive health care and result in lost wages due to inability to work.
It is important that you obtain information about the other driver(s) involved and any witnesses, including contact information, insurance information, and driver's license information. Take photographs documenting all damage and personal injury. Information about the accident scene such as the position of the cars, photographs of the scene, and weather and lighting conditions can also assist your case.
While doing this, even if you believe the automobile accident is your fault, don't volunteer to take the blame, agree to pay for damages, or sign any statement that assigns blame without being advised to do so by an experienced personal injury attorney. Any statements about liability - even an apology - may limit your ability to later obtain fair compensation from your own insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver.
You should also:
- Take photographs of all injuries.
- Keep records of all medical appointments and treatments, medications taken, lost time from work and other activities, pain experienced, limitation of activities, and all incurred expenses.
- Keep notes of all conversations with doctors and medical personnel.
Seek Legal Guidance
To protect your rights it is imperative that you speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney about your accident. Your attorney can help evaluate the evidence that you have provided and determine what else may be needed. If you plan to sue, do not delay. There are time limits for filing various types of claims, so it is in your best interest to act quickly. In most cases it is two years, but in some instances like an accident with a Chicago Transit Authority you have as little as six months to take action.
Additionally, do not to speak to anyone other than your attorney about your case. Often, various outside parties request to speak to you after an accident. Do not speak to the other party's insurance carrier. You do not have to speak to anyone or grant any interviews or statements. It is in the best interest of insurance companies to avoid payment altogether or to settle quickly for the least amount of money possible. In the majority of personal injury cases you cannot ask for additional compensation once you have agreed to a settlement.
The actions you take immediately after a car accident can have a tremendous impact on your legal options and the strength of any later settlement negotiations or civil lawsuit you bring to recover financial compensation. If you have any questions or would like a referral to a qualified and experienced Illinois personal injury attorney, please contact us.