Step 1.  Go to the Doctor

doctorA car accident is no small matter.   More than 30,000 people die, while untold numbers of people suffer serious injuries from automobile related accidents each year.  It is paramount that your health and safety comes first after an accident.  The faster you can see or treat with a physician or emergency room staff, the more confident you can be that you are not exacerbating injuries. However, often time’s people don’t experience significant pain until sometime after the accident. For this reason it is still important to seek medical attention after an accident and to continue to treat if your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse.

Insurance companies attempt to portray your serious injuries as unrelated to the accident that you were involved in.  Either they point to some other event in your life which may have caused your pain, or they attempt to state that your injuries were preexisting or simply did not exist.  Consequently, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible so that you can document and substantiate your injuries.  This means following up with your doctor, going to the appointments and making sure that you are being treated for the symptoms and injuries that you are suffering from.

Step 2 – Report your accident to your insurance company.

After an accident you need to notify your insurance company.  Often times they will want to you to file an application for No-fault benefits.  Not only is it important to contact the insurance company immediately, so as to document your injuries and to start the process of utilizing your coverage, but it also is helpful so that you do not over run the time limit to recover your benefits.  In Michigan we have a one year statute of limitations for no-fault benefits.   These benefits include medical services, wage loss, attendant care, replacement services, and mileage reimbursement.  While you are entitled to these benefits after an auto accident you have to start a claim with your insurance company to receive them.

It is also very important to not give a recorded statement or to sign releases from insurance companies until you can speak with an auto accident attorney.  Many times insurance companies will attempt to make it appear that you did not really get hurt or that your injuries are not as substantial or serious as they actually are.  By getting you to say things are sign documents waiving your rights, insurance companies will attempt to save money by not compensating you with the benefits that you deserve and are entitled too.  If an insurance company is talking to you and wants statements or releases, it is always best to talk to a car accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

Step 3 – Document your case.

After you have seen the doctor and made a claim, it is important to make sure you contact the police department and order a copy of the police report for records.  Your records will help substantiate your claim and make it easier to prove to insurance companies and possibly to the court that your side of the story and that your damages are correct.  This means making sure you write down when you went to the doctor, and obtaining copies of your medical records and bills from your treating physicians.  Additionally you will want to take photographs of your injuries while keeping track of things that you can no longer do around the house and your level of pain, discomfort, and emotional distress.

Step 4 – Contact an Attorney

An experienced car accident attorney can help you prepare and document your case to make sure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.  When you have insurance companies trying to make sure that they pay you as little as possible, having a lawyer is important to assist you in protecting your rights and standing up to insurance companies that want to stop you from collecting your benefits and compensation.