You were going about your day. You had just finished running a few errands and were on your way home. Suddenly, however, things changed. You were hit from behind while waiting at a stop light. The driver was distracted and failed to slow his car, which then slammed into yours, which then hit the car in front of you. The impact immediately left you in pain, and you knew you needed medical attention right away. Someone called 911, and police and an ambulance came to the scene.
After being checked out at the hospital, it’s determined that you have several broken bones, a concussion and are suffering from muscle strains in your neck and upper back (better known as “whiplash”). You’ll likely be out of work for a while to recover, and your car was totaled. The thing you are most worried about, though, other than the pain you’re in, is: what happens next?
The first step
You did the right thing by seeking medical attention. Any crash, even a seemingly minor one, can cause injuries. Anyone involved in an accident should be evaluated by a medical professional. This is the best way not only to ensure adequate treatment for your injuries, but also to document those injuries for a later insurance or personal injury claim.
After you leave the hospital
Once you are stabilized, you should strongly consider reaching out to an experienced personal injury lawyer. It’s best to take this step before you get things rolling with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It can help to write down what your remember about the crash before talking to an attorney. You can write down such things as what you remember about the crash (like if you looked in your rear-view mirror and realized that the driver behind you wasn’t slowing down), an overview of your injuries, and a plan for ongoing treatment.
Your attorney can handle communications with the insurance companies regarding your injuries and the damage to your vehicle.
Beware low-ball settlement offers
Obviously, your injuries won’t heal overnight. You’ll need time to let your body recover. This means lost wages while you’re out of work, and you worry about being able to pay your bills without an income. This may lead you to believe that you’ll need to accept the first (probably low-ball) offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It’s tempting, but don’t fall into that trap. The insurance company is looking out for their own best interests, not yours. Your attorney can use that first offer as a starting point for negotiations.