Tips from a Car Accident Attorney: When Injury Happens
For victims in the State of Ohio who are involved in an auto accident, we wanted to provide you with some tips that our clients have found helpful over the years.
We hope that the following suggestions are useful. If you have any questions, please be sure to contact our office in Columbus, Ohio.
Keep Detailed Documentation
The most important tip when you are involved in an auto accident is to ensure that you keep detailed documentation on all of the facts involved in the collision. In addition, document detailed information about your injuries, limitations, restrictions, and activities that you previously enjoyed that have been impacted by the auto accident.
During the event of a car accident, always file an accident report. It is extremely important to lay out all of the details relating to how the accident occurred and all the reasons why the negligent driver was unsafe. It is critical to document all of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
Always make sure you snap photographs of the scene of the collision. This includes photographs that: show the damage to your vehicle, show damage to the negligent driver’s vehicle, and show any other vehicles that are involved in the accident.
Don’t forget to capture photographs that reflect any damage to the inside of your vehicle in addition to all exterior damage. If you have any visible bruising, you need to immediately take photographs that show the bruising. If there are any skid marks, always make sure you take photographs of them. Finally, secure photographs that depict what the negligent driver would have seen before the accident including any traffic lights, safety signs, speed limit signs, as well as nearby monuments and buildings.
Take Detailed Notes
Always write down all of the unsafe things that the negligent driver did. For example, the negligent driver often fails to pay attention to events in their surroundings or fails to observe safety signs that caution him or her to slow down or exercise caution. Also document whether the negligent driver did anything to try to avoid hitting your vehicle including: applying his or her brakes, sounding his or her horn, or swerving to try to avoid your vehicle. Always listen to what the negligent driver says to you and pay careful attention to his or her mannerisms, gestures, and demeanor. These may indicate that he or she may have been drinking or driving while texting/using a cell phone at the time of the impact.
Write down the story of what the negligent driver did that caused you harm. This includes: the entire story of what happened just prior to the accident, what happened to you inside your vehicle when the impact occurred, and what happened when your vehicle and the negligent driver’s vehicle came to their final resting positions. Note all discussions that you had with the negligent driver, the police, eyewitnesses, EMS squad attendants, and witnesses that were at the scene of the accident.
Visit Your Doctor for an Evaluation
It is critical that you see a medical doctor if you are hurt. It is critical that you tell your doctor about all of the harm that this accident caused. The more detail that you provide to your doctor, the better. Be honest about all of the pain that each of your injuries is causing. Use descriptive words to help better explain to your doctor what the injury feels like. For example, if you have neck pain, describe to your doctor what the neck pain feels like. Is it an aching pain? Is the pain constant or does it come and go? When you get an onset of pain in your neck, how long does the pain last?
Explain to your doctor how your injuries restrict you from doing the activities that you enjoy. Provide your doctor with a list of all of the activities that you enjoyed and how those activities were impacted by the accident. Of course, also tell your doctor about any anxiety or stressors that your accident has caused you and, furthermore, how the stress has impacted your ability to enjoy your favorite activities. Inform your doctor of how long your pain has lasted and interfered with the things you enjoyed doing before the accident. Always be as detailed as possible.
The greatest harm in your case is the harm to yourself. The medical costs and the substantial harm to you are the only things that you can take into account for figuring out the proper amount of money that will equal the amount of harm that the negligent driver caused you.
Keep Information Confidential
Only speak to your physician and lawyer about the details of the accident. Often times, the insurance company for the negligent driver contacts our client very early in a claim to obtain a recorded statement of the accident and injuries. This may request that our client signs a broadly-based medical authorization which would allow the insurance company to obtain medical records of all medical treatment both before and after the accident. Don’t ever sign any paperwork or agree to conduct an interview with the insurance company until you have had an opportunity to discuss your claim with an experienced attorney.
Work with Your Insurance Provider
It is also extremely important when you get involved in an auto accident that you report the claim immediately to your auto insurance. One of the biggest issues that we have seen over the years is that many negligent drivers that cause an accident do not have any insurance, and often times we have to resort to filing claims on our client’s behalf with his or her own auto insurance company. When you are involved in an accident with a negligent, uninsured driver, you need to immediately file what is called an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company.
It is also important that you file a claim with your own insurance company because the negligent driver may not have adequate insurance coverage to cover all of your losses and harm. This claim is called an underinsured motorist claim because the negligent driver didn’t have adequate insurance coverage to cover all of your losses and the harm caused by the negligent driver.
With this being said, it is critical that you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Without it, you will have no means to recover all of the losses and harm caused by a negligent, uninsured driver. Your insurance company currently is not required under Ohio law to provide you with this coverage. Thus, you have to ask for this coverage.
Be Aware of Pain & Anxiety
Always keep in mind that money to pay for your treatment is different from money to make up for you having to suffer with the pain and anxiety of injuries. This is what lawyers call “pain and suffering.” This includes all losses due to the harm a negligent driver caused you. There is no mathematical formula for determining pain and suffering. Consider that insurance companies do not normally pay two or three times the total amount of your medical bills.
The value of pain and suffering is determined by several factors:
- How bad is the harm (how much does it hurt?)
- Where on the scale of intensity does each harm lie? (Pain can be minor, medium, or extremely bad)
- How long does the pain last? (Pain can last from a few moments to many moments all the way up to being a permanent injury). Ask yourself where does each harm lie on a scale of time
- How interfering is the harm?
- Does the harm prevent you from doing the things that you enjoy doing?
- Where on a scale of disability does each harm lie?
- Does your disability interfere with your ability to function? Is your scale of disability at a low, medium, or high level, or does it interfere all the way up to total incapacitation?
The amount of money for pain is determined by how bad, how long, and how interfering is your pain.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, we hope these steps will help you be as proactive as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact my law firm if you have any questions or concerns. We would be happy to assist you.