accident-ss_284519984Even good drivers get in auto accidents, and it’s not something most people think about when driving to work or school every day. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, Bakersfield had over 1,300 traffic accidents with fatalities and injuries in 2012 (the most recent data available) – more than three a day. And that doesn’t include minor accidents and fender-benders.

Knowing how to handle an accident if it happens to you is important for your physical and financial well-being. Settling a case before all medical work is complete may mean the difference in thousands of dollars to you. We hope you don’t have a car wreck, but if you do, follow these 5 tips:

  1. Find a witness to the accident whenever possible. If there are no obvious injuries, the police won’t take a report. So, there may be disputed liability. Get the name and phone number of someone who saw the accident, just in case you need it later.
  2. Document the accident with photos. Photos of the vehicles often prove the facts of an accident. Ideally, you don’t want to move the vehicles, but you must move them to the side of the road if you or other people are in danger. After moving the cars, proceed to take the pictures. Also take photos of any obvious injuries.
  3. Visit a doctor as soon as possible if you feel sore. Soft tissue injuries, such as a hurt neck or back, frequently don’t show up for a week or so. You might not know the extent of an accident right away. But problems in your back or neck may show up a few days later. It’s important that you keep track of when you started feeling hurt.
  4. Document injuries with your medical provider. You must ask the provider to note for the record that the doctor visit is related to the accident. The same is true for all follow up visits. Doctor visits are how insurance companies track claims. Without a specific connection of injury to accident, an insurance company will try to de-value a claim.
  5. Wait to settle a claim until all medical issues resolve. You have up to two years to settle with an insurance company, so don’t rush. Finish all follow up doctor visits to make sure that you have the right dollar amount for insurance reimbursement. Even if you don’t seek an attorney, you don’t need to settle with an insurance company right away.

Working with insurance companies can be frustrating. They may be persistent to settle a claim early, even if you’re not ready. An attorney knows how to handle the insurance adjusters and the abundance of paperwork. And, you may need an attorney to help you prove the other driver’s negligence and seek financial damages. If you’re in an accident, take time to consider your health consequences and your options before settling your insurance.



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