Here’s a quick and dirty checklist (some car accident tips) of things to do if you are injured in a car accident in Montana. This article is meant to help those who were injured in a crash, when the crash was due to the fault of another driver. Here are some car accident tips:
* Keep in mind, every case is different, and this article is no replacement for speaking to a lawyer specializing in car accident cases. We strongly encourage you to contact a lawyer, as these are just general car accident tips.
Car Accident Tips
- Get the medical treatment you need – The most important thing is to make sure your health is taken care of. One thing we see often is that the trauma and adrenaline can mask an initial injury. Oftentimes people are so shook up from a crash that they don’t feel the pain until hours after, once they calm down. Even serious injuries can go unnoticed, so it’s important that you go to the hospital if there is any possibility you may be injured. Get checked out by qualified medical personnel.
- Check on the Wellbeing of Others – If you are able, check your passengers and those in the other vehicle(s) to rule out any life threatening injury. In serious wrecks, time can be critical and it’s important that those with serious injuries have prompt medical attention.
- Notify the police (or 911) – In Montana, drivers are required to notify the police of any accident involving injury. The police will arrive at the scene and investigate the crash to determine the facts. Assuming you are not at fault, the police report will be important for any insurance claim or case. We have seen cases where the parties leave the scene without involving police — it can be very difficult to establish the facts of the crash later on, without witnesses, and can come down to a “he said, she said” dispute.
- Document the Accident – If you are physically able, take some pictures of the accident scene. Pictures can clear up any facts that are later disputed. The police should also take pictures, but sometimes they do not, which is why we mention this as one of the car accident tips.
- Notify your Insurer – Even if the accident is not your fault, you likely still want to notify your insurer, and your policy may even include a duty to do so. You may need your insurance if the other driver is uninsured, or has inadequate insurance. One caveat is recorded statements. Insurers oftentimes demand recorded statements, which might be appropriate in some circumstances but can pose problems. It is strongly advised that you consult with a lawyer prior to providing a recorded statement. The problem is that insurers often want a statement right away, and you may not be in a frame of mind to provide a coherent statement if you are badly injured, or on medication for your injuries. Also, you might not really know what happened if you hit your head, or if the other vehicle hit you unexpectedly. There is rarely an actual rush for a statement, and it’s best to consult with a lawyer first, and to have a firm understanding of the facts.
- Start Gathering Medical Records and Bills – If you are are injured and concerned about payment of your medical bills, request copies of your records and bills from any medical provider(s). Insurance companies require copies of records and bills for payment, so the sooner you can provide them, the sooner the bills get paid.
- Document Wage Loss – If you cannot work due to your injuries, make sure you have a letter from your doctor stating that you are unable to work due to the injuries. Your employer will likely want this, and it will help to recover compensation for lost wages from any car insurer. Also get documentation of the lost wages from your employer.
- Deal with the Car Damage – Depending on the seriousness of the crash, your car is likely damaged or even totalled. If inoperable, it likely will be towed somewhere. It is important you keep track of the location of your vehicle. A mechanic will likely need to determine the cost of fixing your vehicle, or whether it’s totalled. Some insurance companies will send a representative to examine the vehicle for you, but you may want to have someone you trust examine the vehicle too in case there is a dispute. Also, gather the towing bill, storage fees, etc, as you will need to provide those to any insurer(s) for reimbursement.
- Follow up With Medical Treatment – Make sure to follow your doctor’s orders, and get the treatment you need. Oftentimes, time is of the essence for injury recovery. It depends on the nature of the injury, but letting an injury fester can result in longer recoveries. Don’t underestimate injuries!
- Contact a Lawyer – This is not meant to be self-serving, but lawyers can be very important in these cases. It depends entirely on the specific case, but serious injuries can be life-changing, and you need help dealing with the financial fallout. Lawyers cannot give you your health back — no one can — but a good lawyer can really help. Car insurance cases and lawsuits are complicated, and it is difficult to ever recover for all your losses. Insurance companies are not going to voluntarily pay you , despite the insurance propaganda ads. Expect to fight tooth and nail in an insurance claim, and a lawyer can make sure you maximize your recovery.
Hopefully these car accident tips help. Remember, this article is not a replacement for actual legal advice, and should not be taken as such. These are just car accident tips, and what you should do in specific case depends entirely on the facts of your case.
Car accident cases can be a lot more complicated than first meets the eye, and simple car accident tips may not be enough. Oftentimes there are complex issues involving liability. The medical process can also be complex, depending on your specific injury. We are happy to discuss your specific case. Please call us for a consultation, and more car accident tips.