What you need to know if you are in a car accident
Car accidents happen in the blink of an eye and can leave you with lifelong consequences. Did you know that if you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident and it was not your fault, you are entitled to lodge an insurance claim. That’s why compulsory third party insurance exists.
7 key things to consider if you are involved in a car accident:
If you are hurt, seek immediate medical attention. Insurers like to argue that because you didn’t report an injury soon after the accident, that you weren’t hurt at all or that it is not as bad or as serious as you claim. Call an ambulance or see your GP as soon as you can. Tell them you were in an accident. Don’t just tell them what hurts the most – tell your doctor about everything that hurts and make sure they keep a good record on their file.
Everyone sees and processes things differently and people’s memory of events can change over time. Photos are an excellent way to record the scene and are not affected by time or perceptions. Take photos of everything you can at the scene of the accident- the other car, the other driver, damage to your car, road conditions, landmarks in the area, skid marks and any obvious injuries. Often an insurer will argue that the accident wasn’t as bad as what you say. You want to be able to show them exactly where and how you were hit. If the insurer is saying you are at fault or partly at fault, photos taken at the scene can help you present your version accurately and reliably.
Be very careful what you say at the scene of the accident and to who you say it to. At the accident exchange registration, contact and insurance details with the other driver but don’t talk to the other driver about how the accident happened.
What you say to every single doctor or health care provider you see for treatment becomes part of your evidence in a claim. This starts with ambulance officers, in the emergency department or with your GP or physiotherapist later on. The insurer will eventually review all of your medical records and they are able to use anything found in those records. If a doctor mistakenly writes something down wrong or misunderstands you, the insurer may use this to try and reduce your claim.
Pick your personal injury lawyer very carefully. Communication is key – if you can’t communicate directly with your lawyer every step of the way, you should not hire them or that law firm. You will need to speak openly with your lawyer about your situation, including impacts on your health, your family life, your work etc. Communication is essential to preparing your case properly and getting the best possible outcome. Big is not always better. Large firms run like a production line so they can pay expensive overheads and advertising costs. Smaller firms offer a more personalised and individual experience but make sure your personal injury lawyer is an experienced accredited personal injury law specialist.
When it comes to fees, avoid the personal injury lawyer or law firm who won’t explain everything to you. Fees should never be a secret and if your lawyer can’t or won’t explain likely fees at the very beginning don’t hire them. You are entitled to transparency of fees to avoid the risk of being over charged.
You can switch lawyers at any time. It is easy to do. If you lose confidence in your lawyer and their firm then you need to get a new one. You have the right to be kept informed about fees, timeframes for progressing your case, settlement estimates and the risks. If you feel left out in the dark, move on. Arrangements will need to be made to pay your old lawyer’s fees for work they have done, with payment to be made at the end, when your claim is successful. Your new lawyer can organise this for you.
James Law is a specialist personal injury compensation law firm dedicated to helping people with work injury claims, motor vehicle accident claims, occupational cancer and industrial disease, public liability, medical negligence and disability insurance claims. James Law offers No Win No Fee arrangements for personal injury claims and unlike many other personal injury law firms we do not charge an Uplift Fee.
Call us on 07 3890 2323 if you are considering a claim, want to change lawyers or need advice about a client agreement.