Injuries Caused by Motor Vehicles in a Collision
It makes a difference whether you were the driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian. It also makes a difference whether you or somebody else was at fault for the collision. It may be that everyone involved shares some fault for what happened. The law of the state in which the auto accident occurred usually determines the rules that apply.
There is legal advice that can be given in great detail on what to do from the minute you have been injured until your treatment is over. Mainly this advice is given so that you can avoid mistakes. However, you are not likely to have a personal injury attorney whispering in your ear while everything is occurring, and you are not likely to find a written list of instructions that is in your glove box of much assistance when you are injured, or in a state shock, or merely caught up in the unwelcome excitement of a car accident.
In my experience, people who have been injured are not always thinking clearly right after an automobile collision. Unless there are broken bones or bleeding cuts, it is not uncommon for someone who was involved in a car or truck accident to be unaware that they are injured for several hours, or until the next day.
Typically these people describe feeling rattled, unsteady, uneasy or unsure of themselves at the accident scene. They might say or do things that upon more reasoned reflection they wouldn’t have said or done.
There are textbook ways to address the myriad of issues that can come up at an auto accident scene and virtually no one who has been injured has the textbook with them, or the inclination to attempt to follow what it says at the scene of a car accident.
The period immediately following a personal injury auto accident is usually quite dynamic. Things happen and you just have to sort them out later. The good news is that in most auto cases you will not have done or said anything that can’t be dealt with later in some fashion. By the time people see me, the dye is ordinarily cast, so to speak. So I am not going to tell you here all the little things that you should do at the scene after a car accident with one exception that will be mentioned shortly. I am going to assume that you are reading this after everything that could happen at the auto or truck accident scene has happened. Fortunately, it is normally not too late at that point. However, once things have settled down there are some issues that you will need to confront to avoid problems developing.
The one exception that you could bury in your mind for the next car or truck accident that you are in is that you should try not to leave the accident scene without having exchanged information with the other persons involved: names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, the names of insurance carriers, and policy numbers. To do otherwise may constitute the commission of a crime. Hopefully, circumstances will not be such that you are prevented from parceling out or obtaining this information.
Whether or not you have a personal injury claim to make because of the negligence of another person, treatment and how it will be paid for will ordinarily not be an issue for you at the beginning if you have been the victim of a personal injury.
One word of advice I have for you is to not let the tail wag the dog. Obtain the health care that you need, even if you have to figure out how it is going to get paid for later. Above all, do not let the potential course of any personal injury claim that you have to make dictate what you are going to do about treatment. I am occasionally surprised when an injury victim expresses more concern about the effect that their treatment will have on a personal injury claim that there is to make than simply obtaining the appropriate treatment. I have had personal injury accident clients ask me whether it would be better for their personal injury claim to go to this or that doctor, or to get this or that treatment, when they should be thinking about the treatment that will best help them recover from their personal injuries. Although I often know quite a bit more about treatment options and the quality of health care providers available than my usual client who has been in a car or truck accident, you should focus on proper health care and not let the possible outcome of a personal injury claim influence these decisions at the beginning.
Some of you may remember the movie The Fortune Cookie. Jack Lemon plays a photographer on the sidelines of a football game who is run into by a player forced off the field at the end of a play. The Jack Lemon character’s brother-in-law is a personal injury lawyer played by Walter Mathau. This comedic movie is about the brother-in-law’s attempts to try and manipulate the Jack Lemon-character’s treatment, in order to exaggerate the extent of his personal injuries. The result is that the Jack Lemon character becomes miserable through the mere effort involved in getting treatment he doesn’t need in order to build a case for his neck and back injuries.
The situation makes for great comedy, but you don’t want to ever do that in real life.
In order to deal with the consequences of your personal injury, you need to be completely honest with not only other people who are involved, but most of all, with yourself. Sometimes people have a hard time doing that. Sometimes people will exaggerate their symptoms because they are worried about not receiving enough money when they settle. Other people will sometimes quite naturally understate their symptoms to their doctor because both they and the doctor are eager for the patient to be doing a lot better than the patient actually is doing. Sometimes patients fail to tell their doctors things because it isn’t the biggest problem at the time.
The truth has a strange power. Sometimes it is hard enough to recognize and admit the truth to yourself, let alone tell it to someone else. For some well-intended, good people, it is hard work. It is a worthy effort and you will always do better for it. Sometimes the truth is that you don’t know and can’t figure something out. The best course of action is to always admit exactly that if it’s the truth.
Another important facet about the truth is that it never changes. If you always tell the truth about a personal injury accident, you don’t have to remember what you said later. If you always tell the truth, there is nothing to remember. True, you might forget a detail here or there, but you are not likely to be contradicting what you have said previously.
Principles regarding the truth are important in your treatment. Try and be accurate and complete in reporting symptoms to your doctor. Doctors write everything down. If you have some problem that you fail to tell your doctor about, the doctor won’t write it down. If that happens, not only might you fail to get the appropriate treatment, but also when it comes time to resolve your personal injury claim, you may not be believed if there are symptoms or injuries that you failed to fully report to your doctor. If something isn’t important your doctor will know. However, there are some things your doctor will only know about if you tell the doctor.
I have not attempted to give you all the advice that you might need, and the advice may differ with the circumstances. If you are interested in exploring representation on your claim, feel free to give me a call.
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