If you were injured in a car crash caused by a negligent driver, they are responsible for compensating you for your injuries under Arizona law. The steps you take right after your car accident and in the days and months after it will directly impact the strength of your claim. If you want to receive the full value of your claim in your settlement with the insurance company, you need to take these ten important steps to protect your rights and prove your case.
#1: Seek Prompt Medical Care
Getting prompt medical care is essential to protect your health and your claim. If you know you are injured right away, call 911 for an ambulance or go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Even if you do not believe you were injured or think your injuries are “minor,” you should be examined by a doctor within 72 hours of your collision. You may have suffered a serious injury, like internal bleeding, traumatic brain injury, or a spine or back injury, and not realize it until days or longer after your collision when your symptoms develop.
You also avoid disputes with the insurance company by getting prompt medical care. If you delay treatment, they could argue that another incident caused your injuries or that they are not as serious as you claim.
#2: Call the Police
Contact the police immediately at the crash scene. They will conduct an investigation and write a police report that can help you prove the other driver’s negligence caused your auto collision. Useful information the police report will contain includes:
- Details of how the wreck occurred
- Statements of the drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- Police officer’s conclusions regarding who was at fault in the collision
- Any traffic tickets issued
#3: Obtain Contact Information
You need to get the contact information for the driver and their insurance company to file your claim for compensation. You should also obtain this information for any witnesses to your car accident.
You will need to obtain their written statements while you know where they are and their memories are fresh. Witness statements and testimony can be powerful evidence to help you prove the other driver caused your collision, especially if you do not know them and they have no stake in your claim.
#4: Take Pictures
Take photos with your cellphone camera of the damage to the vehicles, the collision scene, your injuries, and anything else you think might be helpful. Your pictures may help you prove how your crash occurred and can be compelling evidence to show a jury.
#5: Notify Your Insurance Company
Report the car accident to your insurance company. By reporting it to them, you are not filing a claim. However, you need to take this step because it is required under your insurance policy. In addition, you are protecting your right to file a claim if the at-fault motorist has no or insufficient insurance coverage to compensate you fully.
#6: Follow-Up on Medical Care
Because your compensation claim is for the injuries you suffered in the auto crash, you must follow your doctor’s advice on your medical treatment and go to all your appointments. If you don’t, it could take you longer to recover from your injuries. In addition, you would be giving the insurance company ammunition to deny your claim or try to force you to accept less in damages in your settlement.
#7: Be Careful What You Say
The negligent driver’s insurance company could contact you soon after your collision. You need to be extremely careful what you say to them so that you don’t make a statement they can use against you. You also do not want to agree to give a recorded statement or accept a quick settlement of your claim before you know how serious your injuries are and the value of your case.
#8: Save Medical Bills and Paystubs
You will need to prove the amount of compensation you are entitled to recover. Keep all your medical bills and your paystubs. They will help you calculate the amount you should receive for your medical expenses and lost wages. You also need to save your auto repair receipts and estimates.
#9: Keep a Journal
You may want to write notes in a diary about the details of your car accident while they are fresh in your mind. You can also keep track of your doctor appointments, medical treatments, time off work, and your level of pain in your journal.
#10: Retain a Lawyer
You should retain a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible after your collision. They can collect the evidence you need to win your case, help you avoid making costly mistakes that weaken your claim, and negotiate your settlement with the insurance company.
Were you injured in an auto crash in Flagstaff or Northern Arizona? Our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to answer your questions and fight with the negligent driver’s insurance company so that you receive the maximum recovery in your settlement. Call our office at 928-226-0165 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. Then order our free book, Injured in Northern Arizona: What Happens Next Is Up to You, to start learning about your rights.