An auto accident can be life-changing, but not in the good way. Injuries and trauma sustained during a few terrified seconds can change your health and wellbeing for a lifetime. Whether your injuries fully heal or you have survived with permanent damage, those first few critical weeks of recovery after the accident are also when you need someone fighting for your right to a fair settlement.

Most car crashes, whether there are injuries, fatalities, or just crumpled bumpers, are followed by weeks and months of jumping through hoops with insurance companies. First, the companies fight over which driver was at fault (and which insurance will have to pay costs). Then both parties defend themselves and try to make opposing claims against the other’s insurance. That is just how the game is played.

But when it’s your life and the healthcare of your loved ones at stake, having an auto accident injury lawyer on your side is invaluable.  

Why Insurance Companies Aren’t On Your Side

The most important thing that someone in a car accident should understand, however, is that no insurance company is on your side. No matter how friendly the commercials or cool your personal agent might be, insurance companies make their money by not paying claims and by minimizing the claims they approve.

Insurance companies receive money through premium payments and lose money through claims. Even if you are completely not-at-fault and incapacitated by your injuries, the other driver’s insurance company will try to minimize your injuries, downplay your recovery time, and pay as little as possible.

This is why it’s important to make every effort to prove without a doubt the full extent of your injuries, the maximum recovery time and cost of recovery, and fight back against denial and minimization tactics.

Car Accident Injuries: What Your Insurance Needs to Know

How can you defend your right to a settlement that will fully cover your recovery costs? This is an exhaustive multi-step process that your auto accident attorney can walk you through, including how to get the right paperwork from your doctor after a diagnosis is made.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Go directly to the doctor after a car accident, even if you don’t “feel that injured”. Get a full checkup. Tell your doctor you have been in an accident and  ask them to help you check for fractures, whiplash, soft tissue damage, or lasting effects.

If you are badly injured and know it, tell the doctor in detail where it hurts and what you remember of the crash. Ask them to help you document the full extent of your injuries

Monitor for Injury Signs that Develop Over Time

One of the most difficult things about auto accident injuries is that some injuries don’t become evident until weeks or months later. A damaged joint or back might not start hurting until you put new stress on it later when it never gave you trouble before the accident. If this happens, go back to the doctor and have everything documented.

Get Tests and a Copy of Your Test Results

Have tests done. Get an X-Ray and, if necessary, a CT or MRI scan. Then, ask for copies of the test results. Give a copy to your lawyer to convey to the insurance companies for solid proof of your injuries that cannot be debated or minimized.

Have a Recovery/Treatment Plan Created and Get a Copy

Lastly, make sure to get a recovery and treatment plan. Doctors don’t always create one right away, as they prefer a ‘wait and see’ approach. However, you will need a recovery plan to argue long-term medical expenses for your settlement.

What to Do Right After the Accident

Those who are familiar with the aftermath of a car accident are sometimes prepared to take immediate action as soon as all vehicles are stopped and everyone is safe. While still on the scene, there are a few steps to take that can significantly help to strengthen your claim to an insurance settlement further down the road.

Do Not Say Sorry

First and foremost, no matter how freaked out you are after the crash, do not say “Sorry”. This is one uncomfortable rule of auto accidents. Apologizing, even if it’s something you say reflexively, can be taken as admitting fault for the accident. If you are not the driver, remind the driver that it is unsafe to say “sorry” to the other driver, the police, insurance agents, or any witnesses in earshot. Just in case.

Take Immediate Photos of the Scene

Before cars are moved off the road, snap a few well-framed pictures. Try to capture photos that depict the way the cars collided, their positions, the skids on the road, and any debris before it is cleaned. These photos may provide the clearest view of what actually happened before evidence is rearranged in an effort to make the road safe and drivable again.

Check Everyone for Injuries

An uninjured passenger or witness should check everyone in both cars for immediately evident injuries. This should include asking if everyone feels like something hurts without an outward appearance of injury.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Make sure that immediate medical care is your top priority. If there are serious injuries on the scene, call an ambulance. If injuries are more minor in nature, schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately. This should be done for everyone in both cars.

Gather Witness Contact Information

If you have time while waiting at the scene, gather contact information from witnesses. Pedestrians who saw the crash and other drivers who stopped after witnessing the crash ahead or behind them may have their own perspectives on what happened and may be useful later.

Wait for the Police & Make a Basic Statement

If anyone is injured or if there is serious vehicle or property damage, be sure to call the police and make a report. However, try to stick only to exact facts without emotion or interpretation for your report. Say where the cars were and what happened only. This will help you avoid reflexively saying sorry or stating anything you’re not quite sure of. 

The same rule applies if you must speak to your insurance provider immediately while reporting the accident.

Be Prepared to Reject the First Offer

One thing most people don’t know is that you can reject a settlement offer without waiving your right to a settlement. Insurance companies often try to lowball victims of car accidents, especially while they are still disoriented from injuries and pain medication or afraid about mounting medical bills. They just want to see if you will take a lower settlement just because that’s what is on the table.

However, you can and often should reject the first offer, and a skilled auto accident attorney will know if or when you need to hold out for a bigger offer and how to fight for the right amount.

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help You Get the Best Insurance Settlement?

After an auto accident, insurance companies do not want to pay anyone a full and fair settlement. Their business model relies on taking premiums and paying as little on claims as possible. This means insurance companies will deny claims or even lowball settlement offers to avoid paying. We know what it takes to win you the best settlement possible.

Our skilled San Jose auto accident injury lawyers will not only defend you from the usual accusations of fault, they will also help you prepare your medical records to prove the severity and longevity of your injuries, the total impact of the accident, and your right to the full settlement amount from insurance provider.

You don’t have to take on the insurance companies alone.