If you have been involved in a car accident and are now recovering at home or in the hospital, there are some important steps you need to take in order to protect your legal rights. We covered some “Dos and Don’ts” in a previous post, and here is a list of some of the key steps you will need to take in order to maximize your chances of recovering just compensation:
10 Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Alexandria, LA
1. Make Sure You Understand Your DiagnosisAfter suffering injuries in a car accident, it is important to make sure you have a clear understanding of your medical diagnosis. Car accidents can cause a wide range of injuries, and making sure you understand your injuries will allow you to both (i) better understand your doctor’s treatment recommendations, and (ii) better appreciate the importance of your insurance claim. Injuries from car accidents can be extremely costly. This is true not only with regard to the out-of-pocket costs (i.e. medical bills and lost wages), but with regard to the physical and psychological impacts of your injuries as well. Severe traumatic injuries can impact your life for years to come, and you need to try to do everything you can to recover to the fullest extent possible.
2. Make Sure You Understand Your Treatment RecommendationsIn addition to understanding your diagnosis, you also need to make sure you understand your treatment recommendations. Some injuries require rest and immobilization, while others require an active recovery. If you have concerns about your doctor’s medical advice, you should not ignore it, but instead seek a second opinion promptly.
3. Fill Your PrescriptionsIf your doctor prescribes medication as a form of treatment, you should fill your prescriptions promptly. Not only will this help with your physical and/or psychological recovery, but it will also help with your insurance claim. If you don’t fill your prescriptions, the insurance companies may try to use this against you by claiming that your costs would have been less had you fully followed your doctor’s advice.
4. Report the Accident to the PoliceIf you have not done so already, you will need to report your car accident to the police. This is required under Louisiana law. Failure to report a car accident resulting in injury is a violation of Section 32:398 of the Louisiana Statutes, and can potentially result in up to a $100 fine and 60 days in jail.
5. Contact Your Auto Insurance CompanyIn addition to reporting your accident to the police, you also need to report it to your auto insurance company. Most auto insurance policies require policyholders to report all accidents. Even if you believe the other driver was at fault, you should still contact your own insurer. While you may be entitled to compensation under the other driver’s liability insurance policy (all Louisiana drivers are required to carry this insurance by law), you may be entitled to compensation under your policy as well. Many drivers choose to purchase medical payments (MedPay) coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, and both of these types of auto insurance cover the policyholder’s accident-related losses.
6. Contact Your EmployerIf you will miss time from work as a result of the car accident, you will want to contact your employer. Call or email your supervisor, and explain that you need to take time off because of your injuries. If you don’t have enough sick days or paid time off (PTO), you should consult with an auto accident attorney regarding the options you have available.
7. Keep Your Accident-Related Records in One PlaceIn order to keep track of everything, it is a good idea to keep all records pertaining to your car accident in one place. To do this, you can create a file where you keep your repair estimates, statements of benefits (SOBs), medical bills, and all other accident-related documentation. For emails, you can create a folder or label that is specific to your accident. Not only will this help you keep track, but it will also make it easy for you to provide everything to your auto accident lawyer.
8. Start a Daily Log or JournalWhen you need to seek compensation for a car accident, the more information you have, the better. With this in mind, it is also a good idea to start a daily log or journal. Each day, you should write down information such as:
- Your pain level (on a scale of 1 to 10)
- If your pain worsens with certain movements
- If your pain or injuries prevent you from doing things or participating in activities
- If you were forced to stay home from work
- What you did to care for or rehabilitate your injuries