The crunch of metal and the jolt of your vehicle often serve as an adrenaline-fueled notice that something has gone wrong. Car accidents happen. The average driver gets into a car accident once every eighteen years. When you do get into an accident, you may have no idea what to do next to protect yourself physically and financially. Here are six steps to ensure you cover all your bases after an accident.
1. Always Report the Accident.
“It’s just a little bit of a fender bender.”
“My insurance company will take care of it.”
“We don’t really have to report this to the police, right?”
The person liable for the accident may have a lot of suggestions about why they do not want to report the accident. After all, you both have places to get to and things to do, and waiting for the police to arrive at the accident scene can take unnecessary time out of your day.
Failure to report an accident does not simply offer an act of kindness to the person that caused it. Instead, failure to report the accident could put you in a tight spot when you need to pursue compensation for any injuries or property damage you sustained in the accident through a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim,
Even if the other driver claims that they will report the incident to their insurance company and deal fairly with you, you have no assurance that they will actually let their insurance company know what really happened in the accident. Without a police report, you may not have evidence that will establish the other driver’s fault.
Call 911 to summon the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Your call can also summon an ambulance to the scene of the accident if you need one.
When the police arrive, give them an accurate look at what led to the accident. Provide any necessary information about the other driver’s actions as you observed them and how they contributed to the accident. Try not to extrapolate on those details, since the police will take care of that on their own.
For example, if you observed the other driver swerving or behaving erratically, you may deem that the driver is driving under the influence. Around 1.8 percent of Nevada drivers do report driving after drinking too much. However, keep in mind that you cannot determine on your own whether a driver was driving while intoxicated. Numerous medical problems, including high blood sugar or poor eyesight, can cause a driver to behave as though intoxicated despite otherwise normal, healthy behaviors. Instead, let the officer know about the symptoms you observed, but let them draw their own conclusions.
Furthermore, when reporting to the officer or speaking to the liable driver, make sure you do not accept liability, even partial liability, for the accident. You should also carefully avoid brushing off the actions of the other driver. While “accidents do happen,” and sometimes more than one factor can contribute to an accident, you should avoid accepting liability for any portion of the accident.
2. See a Doctor Regarding Any Potential Injuries.
Las Vegas’s many hospitals include Sunrise Hospital, Valley Hospital Medical Center and University Medical Center. If you have a car accident in Las Vegas, you can choose the one closest to you or pick the hospital that best fits your specific needs, including one covered by your medical insurance company. Regardless of where you go, seeing a doctor can be critical both to your recovery and to your car accident claim.
Seeing a doctor can serve two key purposes after a car accident. First, it helps ensure that you have not missed any injuries that could cause you problems in the future. Accident victims with injuries from whiplash to severely broken bones and, in some cases, even traumatic brain injury have walked away from the scene of the accident, assuming that they did not need further care, only to discover later that they sustained serious injuries—and that waiting to seek medical treatment worsened those injuries.
A lack of proper medical care can extend your recovery and leave you struggling to heal from your injuries. Some accident victims make their injuries worse by failing to seek medical care, then continue to use the injured body part after the accident, exacerbating the damage.
A medical care professional can also help serve another vital purpose after the accident: the record of your visit will help establish exactly when your injuries occurred, which can be essential to your Las Vegas car accident claim.
Suppose, for example, that you sustained back and neck injuries in the accident. If you do not pursue medical care, you may go for days without seeking treatment while the pain worsens. Later, you learn that you have severe whiplash—a condition that can cause months or even years of pain for some patients.
Because you did not pursue treatment immediately after the accident, the insurance company that covers the liable driver may try to claim that your injuries occurred at another time, but that you have tried to blame the liable driver for those injuries. You may have an even harder time proving the cause of those injuries if you suffer another source of trauma, including a minor fall or jolt, that seems to exacerbate your symptoms or triggers you to go seek medical care.
The Importance of Following Your Medical Care Provider’s Instructions
After your Las Vegas car accident, your medical care provider may diagnose specific injuries and tell you that you need to take certain steps to avoid worsening those injuries or certain steps to help rehabilitate the injuries.
For example, there may be restrictions on what you can lift or recommendations for you to avoid engaging in sports or other activities while you recover. As your recovery progresses, especially if you have relatively little pain, you may find yourself tempted to ignore those restrictions. After all, you may think you have started to heal from your accident, and you need to move forward with your life.
Ignoring those instructions could serve to make your injuries worse or extend your recovery period. Furthermore, if the insurance company finds out about it, you may find it more difficult to pursue the compensation you deserve for those injuries, since the insurance company may claim that you worsened your injuries or exacerbated your symptoms.
Instead, follow the instructions given by your medical care provider. Do your best to promote healing after your injury, even when it feels inconvenient. The better you care for yourself immediately after your accident, the better you may ultimately recover.
A Note on Your Medical Expenses
Serious Las Vegas car accident injuries can cause immense medical expenses. As the injured party, you will need to make arrangements to pay those bills even when the other driver clearly caused the accident. A car accident claim will most often result in a lump sum paid directly to you, not to your medical care providers. You would then use the funds from that settlement of judgment to cover the expenses associated with your recovery.
Keep track of all your medical bills after the accident as bills can pile up fast. If you do not keep all the bills in one place, you may have a hard time calculating the actual cost spent on the medical care you received. By keeping your bills together, you can more easily calculate the amount you have spent on medical and rehabilitation services.
3. Check Your Insurance Coverage.
As your medical bills start rolling in, knowing what insurance coverage you have can be vital to your financial health. Check your insurance coverage to learn what your insurance company will pay for and what financial assistance you can expect after the accident. You may also want to have your attorney review your insurance coverage, particularly if you carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Nevada insurance requirements do not necessitate PIP coverage. If you carry it, however, it can assist with the initial cost of medical bills after an accident. Many accident victims find that PIP coverage helps alleviate much of the strain associated with a serious accident.
In addition, you may want to go over your medical insurance to make sure you understand what help you have to cover your medical bills. Look over your coverage for specific elements of care you know you may need to consider while you recover.
For example, you may want to know:
- What hospitals and care providers are in-network versus out of network?
- What coverage do you have for long-term care? What about in-home care? Can you hire a nurse to care for you or visit you at home based on your insurance coverage?
- Do you have coverage for durable medical equipment? How much?
- How many physical and/or occupational therapy visits will your insurance cover each calendar year? Does your insurance break those down by incident, allowing you to visit a therapist again for a separate injury, or by time?
Make sure you have a solid understanding of your insurance coverage so you can establish a care plan that works for you.
4. Get in Touch With an Experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney as Soon as Possible.
You do not need to worry about calling an attorney from the accident scene or the emergency room. You should, however, get in touch with a Las Vegas car accident attorney as soon as you can following a car accident, particularly if serious. Any time you suffer serious injuries in a car accident, you should contact an attorney to help go over your rights and ensure you understand the compensation you can expect for your injuries.
An attorney will:
- Go over the full compensation you deserve, including evaluating both the liable driver’s insurance coverage and any coverage you carry that could help you in the aftermath of the accident.
- Collect evidence related to the accident, including evidence that can help showcase which driver caused the accident, witness statements and additional police reports if needed, among others.
- Identify any other parties, like the employer of a driver on the clock, that may share liability for the accident.
- Help you pursue the full compensation you deserve, including negotiating with the liable driver’s insurance company.
- Fight on your behalf as you seek compensation, particularly if your claim has to go to court.
- Offer valuable advice that can help you at every stage of the negotiation process.
Try to talk to an experienced attorney before you speak to anyone else about the accident, including either your car insurance company or the liable driver’s. An attorney can help offer valuable, comprehensive advice that will allow you to navigate the aftermath of your accident more effectively. Often, working with an attorney will help you better establish the compensation you can seek, how to handle yourself after the accident and even what statements you should avoid making.
5. Keep Information About the Accident and Your Recovery Off Social Media.
You may find yourself tempted to share information about your accident and your recovery with all your friends on social media. Sharing information you feel will help them stay informed about your needs or make it easier for them to connect with you. While you deal with your car accident claim, however, you should keep information about the accident and your recovery private and off of social channels.
That information could result in an insurance company trying to deny the compensation you deserve based on statements about your recovery and the activities you can do. An attorney can provide you with more information about the posts you should avoid while recovering and even what information you can share with your friends and family while you manage your car accident claim.
Did you suffer serious injuries in a Las Vegas car accident? Contact an attorney today for more information about your next steps.