1. Get the treatment you need and follow the doctor’s instructions. If you were hurt in the accident, immediately go to the hospital or your doctor. From my experience as a Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer a common concern of those injured in auto collisions is “how am I going to pay for my medical bills?” If the emergency room or urgent care center suggests you follow up with a specialist such as an orthopedic physician, you need to do it. From a lawyer that works with injured people on a daily basis, you cannot put a price tag on good health. There are many ways to deal with unexpected medical expenses caused by an auto accident. Please do not refuse needed medical attention because you are concerned about the bill.
Another question people often have, “if the hospital didn’t give me a doctor’s name when I was discharged, who should I go see?” Look to the hospital, your primary care doctor, your family, or your friends for a good doctor recommendation. Clients always feel more comfortable with a doctor if someone they know and trust recommends.
If someone you don’t know calls you up and recommends a doctor or a lawyer they are probably a runner. It is a crime for a doctor or a lawyer to pay a runner for a referral and it is a crime for the runner to sell your name to the doctor or the lawyer. If you take a runner’s recommendation you will be receiving second rate medical care and legal representation from those willing to break the law to get patients/clients. Additionally, your legitimate claim for injuries will likely be tarnished by connection with this illegal activity.
2. Call your insurance company and tell them about the collision. This is important for a variety of reasons. First, you may have medical payments (med pay) coverage. Med pay is excellent coverage that provides 100% payment for medical bills. Second, if the party that hit you is uninsured or has minimal insurance your uninsured motorist coverage may come into play. Failure to notify your insurance company can void your uninsured coverage. Third, sometimes it is easier to file the property damage claim with your insurance company and let them pursue the negligent party’s insurance.
3. Call the other driver’s insurance company, but DO NOT sign anything. Tell the insurance adjuster about the accident and what happened. PLEASE DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING the insurance company sends you without consulting with a Georgia Auto Accident Attorney first. If you are rushed to settle your personal injury claim by the insurance company and later learn your injuries are worse than you and your doctors originally thought you will be out of luck. If you sign anything or accept any sum of money from the insurance company you are probably going to barred from pursuing any future claim. Additionally, it would be wise to consult with a lawyer before giving a recorded statement.
4. Document evidence and keep it in a safe place.
a. Get the names and contact information of all eye witnesses. You cannot count on the police report to list all the witnesses.
b. Get a copy of the police report. It should be available within 3-5 days after the crash. If something is incorrect in the report contact the officer and bring it to his or her attention.
c. Take photographs of your vehicle, the scene of accident, skid marks, anything that seems relevant.
d. Take photographs of your injuries. Even though it might not be your primary injury, cuts, bruises, black eyes, etc. should be documented with pictures.
5. Submit all your bills to your health insurance. Hospitals and doctors will not bill the negligent party’s insurance. Some hospitals will not send your bill to your insurance company even when they know you have insurance. If you don’t have med pay, you should insist on the bill being sent to your health insurance. If the hospital doesn’t bill your health insurance they will file a lien against you. If a hospital files a lien, instead of getting the benefit of your health insurance’s contract with the hospital to pay a percentage of the bill you will have to pay the full marked up price out of the proceeds of your personal injury settlement.
6. If your injuries are serious, consult with an experienced lawyer. Most Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers provide free consultations. Find a lawyer that specializes in personal injury and have a free face to face meeting. This will give you an opportunity to have your questions answered and decide whether you want to hire a lawyer to handle your case. When dealing with serious injury claims, the stakes are too high and the law too complex to try and go it alone.