Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury in the U.S. One minute you're driving along, life is good, and the next minute you're in the emergency room in pain and afraid of what may come next. While there is no way to guarantee that you will not be the victim of someone's carelessness on the road, there are 3 things to remember which might help the experience be a little less of a nightmare.
1. Do not admit that the accident was your fault or partly your fault. There is something in human nature that compels us to accept blame when an unexpected traumatic event occurs. This is even more true when the other party admits they were at fault. There is an urge to respond to such an admission by saying, " I was partly to blame-- I should have been paying more attention too," or something similar. Later, when the shock of the trauma subsides, you realize that you were not to partly to blame at all-- yet the other party's insurance company is now using your statement against you in settlement negotiations. What was intended as a gesture of good will has come back to haunt you.
2. If there is any significant jolt or impact, go get checked out in the ER. Injuries don't always manifest themselves immediately. Sometimes, you may have a head injury or fracture and do not even know it at the time. People in ski accidents often think they're fine, only to have brain bleeds that become obvious hours later. The same thing can happen in car wrecks. Don't assume that you are all right just because you're not hurting at that moment.
3. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The at-fault party's insurance company will handle the defense of the claim for them, and they have lawyers to assist them. Many meritorious cases are lost because the injured party made statements to insurance adjusters, thinking that because the adjuster seemed like a nice fellow he would have their best interests at heart. Wrong! As a friend of mine used to say, insurance companies are in the business of collecting premiums and denying claims. Without your own lawyer, you are at a terrible disadvantage. If you contact me and I believe that it is a claim that you would do better settling without a lawyer, I will honestly tell you. That said, I have never seen a serious claim settle for a fair amount without the involvement of a lawyer on the injured party's side.
Hopefully, you'll never need these tips, but if you are ever involved in an auto accident, knowing what to do helps.