If you’ve just been in an accident, no one needs to tell you how stressful it can be. There are probably half a dozen different things flying in and out of your mind; you might also be injured or in pain. And now, you need to interact with law enforcement, any other parties involved in the accident, and insurance companies. If you’re worried about taking care of yourself, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re probably clever. A car accident can negatively impact several different areas of your life. With that in mind, the following will explore a few simple steps you can take after a car accident to help better protect yourself from harm or negative outcomes.
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Get An Advocate ASAP
While people in the movies often defend themselves in cases and succeed, this rarely happens outside the television screen. You can bet that the insurance companies have hired medical experts and legal professionals who have spent years—maybe even decades—proving that people aren’t as hurt as they claim to be or aren’t entailed to compensation for other reasons. They know how to work with the system to get the results they want, which are, namely, paying you as little as possible. You wouldn’t enter a jujitsu match as a newcomer to the sport against someone with ten years of experience in jujitsu and expect to come out on top, would you? Find yourself legal representation.
It’s vital that you do this before you talk to anyone else. Yes, you can exchange information with the other party involved in the accident, but speak to a lawyer before you talk to insurance or the law. In many situations, pursuing one course of action involves legally forfeiting other courses of action. Insurance companies are great at convincing you that one thing might be in your best interest, only for you to discover later that it wasn’t. And then it’s too late because you’ve signed something. Talk to a lawyer about your options before signing anything.
If you’re able, take photographs of the scene on your phone. This includes both wide shots and close-ups of different details. If you have visible bruising or swelling, take pictures of yourself as well. Your lawyer may want to go through these images with you if the evidence is needed later on.
Keep Track of Expenses
One thing that people who aren’t used to settlement cases aren’t very good at is estimating the cost of an accident. Sure, you can probably figure out how much it’s going to cost to get the car fixed, but these personal injury lawyers fighting cases in Virginia Beach emphasize that there are a lot more expenses you need to consider. Things like medical bills (including past, current, and foreseeable future bills), property damage, lost wages, lost earning capabilities, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Seek Medical Advice
Even if you feel fine, it’s a good idea to seek medical treatment after an accident. This is because things like shock can inhibit your sense of how to hurt you are. As well, car accidents can sometimes lead to internal injuries that aren’t immediately apparent even if you’re not in shock. It’s also a good idea to have a paper trail—a doctor’s visit can sometimes be used as evidence in a legal proceeding.
Follow Medical Advice
If you don’t follow your doctor’s instructions, this can be seen in a legal proceeding as you not being as injured as you claim you are. If you don’t agree with what has been suggested by a doctor for any reason, seek out a second opinion. Studies actually show that if you feel the urge to seek a second opinion, it’s usually good to listen to that urge. In fact, 88% of patients who have sought a new medical opinion leave the appointment with a refined or new diagnosis. 21% of people leave with a distinctly different diagnosis.
While you’re at it, take the time to do the little things that can help your body during recovery. This might mean getting more sleep or eating healthier. It might mean finally seeking a dehumidifier, so the air in your room doesn’t make you feel congested. Figure out what changes you can make to encourage recovery and make them. As frustrating as it is to be injured now, it’s going to be a lot more frustrating six months from now if you’re dealing with something that could have healed by that point.
It’s also important to take it easy. Don’t push yourself to keep doing a task that hurts. This can be especially hard for people who are used to working out and pushing themselves hard. Give your body the time it needs to heal.
Don’t Neglect Mental Health
Did you know that car accidents are the number one cause of PTSD in America? When you’re going about your day-to-day life and something massive and dangerous suddenly strikes you, your brain can want to rework itself a little, trying to figure out how to avoid surprise pain or discomfort in the future. Couple that completely natural and appropriate mental response with how stressful it can be talking to law enforcement or facing legal proceedings, and you have a recipe for not feeling like yourself. Beyond this, many people identify with their work and can find themselves feeling really down if they’re not able to do the things they’re good at. Don’t ignore mental or emotional struggles at this time.
Pay attention to factors that increase your distress and try to learn how to better navigate them. Seek support if you need it. This can be as simple as calling a trusted friend or sibling. It can also mean turning to a professional.
Avoid Social Media
It’s incredibly easy to mess up legal proceedings by using social media. Unless specifically instructed by your lawyer, completely avoid posting or interacting on social media until after your legal proceedings are settled. It can be tempting to unleash your emotions online, but you need to remember that law enforcement, judges, and insurance companies can all access your social media. Even simply commenting on the outcome of last night’s hockey game could be interpreted as you not being as injured as you claim you are.
The above information should help you protect yourself after a car accident. Of course, every accident is unique. It’s best to listen to a legal professional who is familiar with your particular accident. This can help ensure that nothing specific to your incident is overlooked.