Car accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the United States. In 2020, even with fewer people driving as a result of the pandemic, an estimated 38,360 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes which is the largest number of people since 2007. This was an increase from 2019 which had 36,096 fatalities, even though the effects of the pandemic were not yet fully realized.
If you’re involved in a car accident, you may suffer serious injuries that come with steep medical bills. You don’t necessarily have to pay these medical bills yourself if a court decides that the other party is responsible for the accident. Instead, your insurance company or the other party may be legally liable for your medical expenses.
To get compensated for medical expenses you must prove the other party was responsible for your injuries. You must provide a convincing case with thorough documentation and reasoning from evidence.
Make good use of your time immediately after an accident. First, call 911. If you think you might be injured as a result of the accident, accept any medical care offered to you. If the medics on the scene offer you a ride to the hospital, don’t decline. There are two main reasons declining is a bad idea: First, you may not realize how injured you are. Shock or adrenaline can mask the symptoms of injury, and you may not realize you’re injured until later at which point you will need to seek medical care, anyway. Second, by declining a ride to the hospital, you give the insurance company evidence that your injuries are not as serious as you claim. It’s vital that you accept any medical care offered to you to have the strongest possible case.
When the police arrive, they will create an accident report. Ask an officer how you can obtain a copy of the report as you will need it to file a claim with your insurance company. Get the name and badge number of the officer as well.
Begin documenting the accident. Write down details such as precisely where and when the accident happened and the weather conditions. If you’re able, take photos of the scene. Include license plate numbers, vehicle and property damage, landmarks, signage, and miscellaneous details such as skid marks and debris. If you’re visibly injured, take pictures of your injuries.
Finally, exchange insurance information with the other driver. If they ask to take a photo of your driver’s license, don’t let them, as this leaves you open to identity theft. Some of the information on your license is private and valuable, so you shouldn’t share it with the other driver. Instead, you may safely share your name, vehicle information, license plate number, and insurance details. If the other driver claims to not have insurance, get their home address, phone number, and driver’s license number.
Keep track of all your medical expenses and follow up with your doctors. Anything that can be tied to the car accident needs to be checked out. Don’t worry if new injuries present themselves later as you can always add these to your case. Some minor injuries can become worse as time goes on and you may need new treatment for them.
It helps to get a second opinion that can confirm that your injuries were the result of the car accident. The more medical expert testimony you can obtain, the better, as you will need this if your case goes to trial.
Once you have a good idea of what your medical expenses are, the next step is to write a demand letter to your insurance company. This letter will be the basis for negotiations and will include all relevant details as well as the total dollar amount you are demanding. These include:
Attach any supporting documents you have to the letter. Make copies of bills, letters, records, and documents pertaining to your demand.
Expect your insurance company to send a letter back with a counter-offer. They will offer reasons why they believe they owe you less than you originally demanded. You may then either accept their offer or counter it back. This will begin the back-and-forth negotiations that ultimately can result in a settlement.
Yes. Posting on social media is a bad idea if you’re filing an insurance claim. Your insurance company will closely monitor your social media accounts for any signs that your injuries are not as bad as you claim.
The natural inclination for many may be to tell others that they are OK after a car accident, but such positivity can wreak havoc on the strength of a case. Even small things like photos of you smiling or enjoying yourself outside the home are things that the defense can use against you.
Your insurance company may also use your statements on social media as evidence of an admission of fault. The insurance company can use anything that sounds like an apology to the other driver as an admission of fault. This can take the blame off the other driver and onto you which greatly hinders your chances of getting your medical expenses – and other expenses – compensated.
Confidentiality is also an issue you should be wary of. Sharing information on social media makes it public. However, because your insurance company will be monitoring your accounts they can use anything you say against you even if it seems innocuous. You may not want them to know certain things about the crash or your physical or emotional state.
If at all possible, you should stay off social media altogether during a claim. If you absolutely cannot resist, then at the very least use the maximum allowed privacy settings so your posts are not public except to the specific people you want to read them. However, this may not be enough to keep them from the eyes of the insurance company, and the defense may gain access to your posts if they make a discovery request.
If you’ve already posted on social media and are thinking about deleting your posts, don’t. A court might see this as tampering with evidence.
Car accident claims involving medical expenses tend to be complicated and difficult. While you have the right to go it on your own, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle if you’re not especially familiar with what’s involved in such a task.
A lawyer can help you with every aspect of a claim, from how to organize your evidence to forming a demand letter to taking your case to court if you and your insurance company cannot reach an agreement.
At Fielding Law, we have attorneys with the proper experience and know-how to represent you in a car accident case. Contact us to explore your options going forward.