It can be difficult for pedestrians to know what to do after an auto accident. Emergency personnel, bystanders, and other injury victims all make for a chaotic atmosphere. Unfortunately, things a victim says or does in this chaos can impact a legal case. With guidance from the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Hughey Law Firm, injured pedestrians can protect their legal rights and improve their chances of getting fair compensation for their injuries.
Get Medical Treatment
There are many reasons why pedestrians should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident. First, injuries may not be readily apparent at the scene of an accident. Latent injuries can appear days—or even weeks—after an accident occurs. There are also certain injuries which are highly dangerous but can only be detected by qualified medical personnel. One example is a subdural hematoma. This bleeding in the brain may start out small and produce no initial symptoms. If it is not treated, however, the bleeding can eventually lead to life-threatening symptoms. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to these types of traumatic injuries. This is because they do not have the protection of an airbag, bicycle helmet, or other safety equipment available to other road users.
Secondly, an injury victim’s legal case can also be impaired by a failure to seek necessary medical treatment. Injuries which are not treated tend to become worse. A defendant’s insurance company can argue that a victim exacerbated his or her own pain and suffering by not getting treatment. This can lead to a decrease in the overall settlement offer. As a result, the victim not only suffered more than necessary but also lost out on compensation to which he or she was entitled.
There are many different types of medical treatment which might be necessary, depending on the exact nature and extent of the victim’s injuries. Specialists (such as a neurologist or orthopedic surgeon) may need to consult on injuries to specific body parts. Physical therapy or chiropractic services may prove necessary to reduce pain, improve mobility, or strengthen muscles which were injured in the accident. In the case of a very serious or permanent injury, rehabilitative services may be necessary. These can include speech therapy, occupational therapy, or home caregivers. It is important to access all necessary treatments and services in order to give an injury victim the best recovery possible.
Get Legal Advice
After meeting immediate medical needs, injury victims should seek legal advice about their case. The sooner an attorney becomes involved, the sooner he or she can protect the victim’s legal rights. There are many things a victim can say or do which can negatively impact a personal injury settlement. Posts on social media, statements to the defendant’s insurance company, and even statements made at the scene of an accident can all be used against an injury victim. An attorney will advise injury victims on exactly what to say and do, and what to avoid saying and doing while the case is pending.
An attorney can also help injury victims determine the best method of resolving their claims. In some cases, an insurance carrier makes a fair settlement offer which is reasonable for the victim to accept. In other cases, the initial offer is not fair, but a fair amount can be negotiated, and the claim can still be resolved without filing a lawsuit. Unfortunately, there are cases where the victim has no choice but to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. If the driver’s insurance company refuses to accept liability for the accident or refuses to make a fair settlement offer, a lawsuit may be the only way to obtain fair compensation for the financial losses the victim has sustained. An attorney can help victims decide whether a settlement offer is fair. An attorney will also help victims understand the fees and costs associated with a trial, as well as the risk that their claim might be lost at trial if the jury does not find in their favor. All of these considerations must be carefully evaluated when deciding whether to file a lawsuit for a personal injury claim.
The age of smartphones has made taking photos, videos, and audio recordings exactly when and where you need them easier than ever. Victims who are able to take photos of the accident scene should do so. Be sure to get medical attention first, and do not interfere with any police investigation that is occurring. Later, victims should document any physical signs of their injuries. Bruises, cuts, swelling and similar signs can be used as evidence in support of a personal injury claim.
Testimony can also form important evidence in any auto accident case. If possible, obtain the names and contact information of any bystanders who witnessed the accident. Ask police officers on the scene how you can obtain a copy of the police report once it is available. This, too, is an important piece of evidence, which almost always affects an insurance company’s decision to accept or deny liability.
Follow through with all treatment recommendations of medical providers. If you have concerns about paying for medical bills before your case settles, speak with a personal injury about what options you might have in order to continue treatment. Make sure that your medical needs are met so that you can return to life as healthy as possible. Again, this is not only important for your physical health and ability to return to a life as normal as possible but also to protect your legal interests in fair compensation for the financial losses you have sustained as a result of the accident. These losses include property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, rehabilitative services, home care, any permanent impairment to your future earning potential, and other financial losses which are the direct result of the defendant’s negligence.