What Should I do if I’ve been injured in a Car Wreck? Part I, The Wreck.

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Car wrecks or automobile accidents are one of those unfortunate parts of life that we all hope we’ll never experience. However, chances are that just about every Alabama driver will be in a wreck at one time or another, whether it is our fault or the fault of another. Often times, people are not significantly injured in wrecks. However, there are some wrecks that result in someone being injured.

If you were injured and the wreck was someone else’s fault, you may have a claim against that person. Every car wreck case hinges on two issues.

– The first is liability (Can you prove that the wreck was the fault of the person who hit you?)

– The second is damages. (Can you convince an insurance adjuster, or judge or jury if you can’t settle the case that the injuries and/or pain you say were caused by the person that hit you actually was?)

Most cases we see actually come down to the second question.

If you are in a wreck and have been inured, what you do immediately after the wreck and in the first few days can significantly affect your chances of recovery for the injuries you sustained in that wreck. If you are reading this after a wreck, then you have experienced this, and if you have never been in a wreck then you can only imagine what happens to your body during a wreck.

Though we will discuss in more detail what actually happens to your body during a wreck in a later post, needless to say it can be a very violent and traumatic experience. First and foremost, you should always wear your seat belt. But, even with that on you body can be thrust forward or backward suddenly, and stopped and yanked in the opposite direction just as violently and suddenly. Additionally, there are the objects within the car you can hit or be hit by, including the airbag, the steering wheel, or parts of the dashboard or door.

It is hard to imagine the force of an impact because our cars are big and heavy and we feel safe in them. Yet, even a low impact wreck can cause a significant jostling to your body, which can cause long term injury to your back, neck and other joints.

If you have been in a wreck, you should immediately contact the police to let them come and fill out a report. This will serve as documentation of the fact that the wreck actually occurred. Additionally, the officer should take down every one’s information and other information, such as, weather conditions, road conditions, each person’s statement as to how the wreck occurred and list any witnesses to the wreck.

On the issue of witnesses, it is vitally important that you identify anyone who could be a potential witness and take down their contact information and try to get them to stay to speak with the police officer. Oftentimes, many witnesses will not want to get involved and will only stay around to make sure everyone is OK and then leave. Once they are gone it is you word against theirs as to how the wreck happened.

Whether you are sure you have been injured or not you should be checked out by a doctor immediately. Right after a wreck, most people’s adrenalin is pumping and it is not until hours or days later that they actually realized the extent of their injuries. A delay in treatment can cause two problems. First, and foremost, it may limit your ability to recover. Second, if you wait a few or even several days to see a doctor, you may have problems proving that you were actually injured in the wreck.

Finally, if you have been injured you will have to decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you. Your insurance policy probably requires you to notify your own insurance company that you have been in a wreck. However, you will likely be contacted shortly after the wreck by an insurance adjuster who will immediately begin processing the claim. First, you will have to decide whether to speak to the adjuster about your claim. See our post here addressing speaking to an attorney first. In doing so, they are also preparing a case against you. They are gathering information about you and the wreck, looking for inconsistencies, and anything else they can find to pay you as little as they can. Remember, no matter how nice the adjuster is, their goal is not to make sure you are taken care of. Insurance companies are for profit businesses and the less they pay you, the more money they make.

Stay tuned for future posts on what to expect in treatment of your injuries after the wreck, settlement, litigation and trial.

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