Illinois Auto Accidents: 10 Things NOT To Do If Injured

The moments immediately after an car accident can be scary, painful, and confusing. Although each situation is unique, below are ten common mistakes that people make after being injured in an auto accident.

What Not To Do At The Accident Scene

1. Do Not Try to Move if You are Seriously Injured: Before you do anything, you must attempt to assess the situation. Determine whether your injuries could be serious. If you are seriously injured, attempting to move without the help of paramedics can make your injuries much worse. For example, if you have a serious neck or back injury, movement could result in a permanent injury to your spinal cord. The only time you may want to move, even if you are seriously injured, is if your car is on fire or there is some other impending risk of death. In either event, the ultimate objective is to take all necessary steps protect your safety.

2. Do not Fail to Report Your Injuries: If you feel you are (or may be) injured, you must let someone else know. If someone comes up and asks if you are ok (the other driver, someone else in your car, a bystander, etc.), you must let them know that you are injured or may be injured. Ask for an ambulance so the paramedics can check you out. With the shock and chaos surrounding an auto accident, victims are often incapable of sensing the extent of their own injuries.

Once the paramedics arrive, let them know everything that hurts. Although you may be asked which parts hurt the most, make sure to let them know every part of your body in which you feel pain. Sometimes, the injuries that cause the most pain may be less important than other injuries. For example, a broken arm may cause more pain than a neck or head injury, but the neck or head injury could end up being far more serious than the broken arm.

3. Do Not Fail to Cooperate With the Police: If you are in an auto accident, you must make sure the police are contacted. This is especially true if you are injured. When the police arrive, be sure to cooperate fully (without incriminating yourself). The police will want to know how you believe the accident happened, including what you observed immediately before, during and after the accident. You should also provide any other information you may have to help the police investigate accident, including any information you may have on people who may have witnessed the accident. The police will definitely want to know if you are injured.

What Not To Do Regarding Medical Treatment After Accident

4. Do Not Refuse to Go to the Emergency Room: Whether you go by ambulance or through some other means, you should get to an emergency room as soon as possible if you think you might be injured. Refusing to go to the ER can only endanger your health and safety as well as compromise your ability to obtain full compensation from those who are responsible for causing your injuries. Insurance companies and jurors are generally distrustful of people who claim they were injured but never sought immediate medical help (that day or the next).

5. Do Not Fail to Follow up With Your Doctor: When you are discharged from the emergency room, you may be instructed to follow up with your doctor or another doctor regarding your injuries. Failing to do this can only jeopardize your health and your case. If you are concerned about the costs, your doctor may help you work out a payment plan or agree to place a lien on your case (if you have an attorney). A physician’s lien can allow you to receive medical treatment without paying your doctor until after your case settles.

6. Do Not Fail to Complete Your Medical Treatment: Failing to properly complete the medical treatment prescribed by your doctor could again compromise your recovery and hurt the value of your case. Your injuries may not heal properly and the other person’s insurance company (and jurors) may attempt to blame you, even though your injuries were originally caused by someone else. Do not let this happen.

Other Things Not to Do After You Are Injured in Accident

7. Do Not Fail to Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company: Report an auto accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, regardless of who is at fault. Many insurance companies include a clause that may allow them to cancel your policy or deny coverage (e.g., medical coverage) if you fail to report an accident in a timely manner. Do not give the insurance company any opening to deny coverage.

8. Do Not Give a Recorded Statement or Speak with the Wrong People: Do not give a recorded statement to anyone without consulting an attorney first. Giving a recorded statement to your own insurance company could invalidate or compromise coverage depending upon your statement. Giving a recorded statement to the other side’s insurance company or any other person could damage, if not ruin, your case. Anytime an insurance company (or anyone else) wants to take recorded statement from you, decline until you speak to your attorney. If were injured in an auto accident and someone wants to take a recorded statement from (without your attorney present), they are almost certainly trying to obtain damaging information that is harmful to your interest.

In addition, try to avoid speaking about your case to anyone other than the investigating officers and your medical providers. Although it is natural to speak with those close to you about the accident, avoid sharing specific details. Unfortunately, the details you provide them may cause them to become a witness (even though they did not actually see the accident).

9. Do Not Settle for Less than Your Case is Worth: It is your choice to hire an attorney. On small cases involving minor injuries, you may be able to recover as much on your own as you would with lawyer (and without having to pay them). However, in cases involving serious injuries, it is very unlikely that you would be able to recover nearly as much on your own as a top personal injury lawyer could (even after their fee is deducted). In these instances, you are almost always better off with a highly skilled attorney.

10. Do not Hire the Wrong Lawyer: Selecting the right lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your came. There are thousands of lawyers in Illinois but, like any other profession, there are only a few who are truly excellent at their job. Do not settle for the first person you talk to – read up on their background, experience, results, and accomplishments. The right lawyer will patiently guide you through each step of your case and work to maximize your recovery.

Posted by: Chicago Personal Injury Attorney Jason M. Kroot of Kroot Law, LLC

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