- Don’t Make These Mistakes After You’ve Been Injured in an Accident
Don’t Make These Mistakes After You’ve Been Injured in an Accident
Over the years, we’ve taken several opportunities to outline steps you should definitely take after you’ve been injured in an accident. This time, we’ll be discussing key actions to avoid if you’ve been hurt – both to safeguard your physical and mental condition, and to prevent yourself from harming or losing your right to sue for damages.
Don’t Think You Shouldn’t See Your Doctor Right Away
Getting into a car accident of just about any type can be traumatic to both your body and your state of mind. Even a seemingly minor fender-bender will often result in significant forces being exerted on delicate nerve endings, muscles, bones, and joints throughout your body. For example, the Omni Car Crash Calculator has determined that a mere 25-mph impact can apply nearly 5,000 lbs. of force to a 150-lb. driver’s body – even when wearing a seatbelt! Without a seatbelt, that number rises to more than 23,000 lbs. of pressure. And while you might not feel the results right at that time, symptoms of internal injuries often manifest in the days, weeks, or even months following physical trauma.
This is because, in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, your body releases hormones called endorphins that can temporarily reduce the pain caused by injuries. Doctors are trained to look past the initial effects of these hormones to discern the true extent of internal injuries, and to identify broken bones, torn ligaments, spinal cord trauma, and many other forms of damage that can affect the human body following accidents. Even more critical is that if you are indeed suffering from internal bleeding or damage to your spinal column, prompt treatment could make the difference between temporary pain and permanent damage – or even between life and death.
But there are several other reasons you shouldn’t avoid seeking the attention of health care professionals after you’ve been hurt. For example, medical records can provide essential evidence when health coverage, worker’s compensation, or other types of insurance claims are filed. Waiting too long to get checked after an accident reduces the likelihood of your medical records being considered timely and accurate, which could come back to bite you in the long run… and might even result in legitimate claims being denied.
Because Michigan is a No-Fault state, your auto insurance policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will most likely cover the costs of your initial medical care following an accident. (As always, we recommend choosing a policy with unlimited PIP benefits.) So, if you’re worried about having to pay for unexpected health treatment following a car crash, don’t let that stop you from seeking care. Your life is priceless, after all!
Finally, the medical records that are assembled following your accident can later provide essential evidence if you someday find it necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit for your injuries. Which is why we say that delaying emergency medical care following an accident puts you and any passengers in your vehicle at major physical – as well as financial – risk.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take an Ambulance
As we explained in an article here last year, Emergency Medical Technicians are trained to offer immediate first aid and life support services to people who’ve been seriously injured. Let them do their jobs! If cost concerns are making you anxious about taking an ambulance to the hospital for further treatment or to receive medical assistance after an accident, consider the value of your life and your future well-being before declining service. Remember – Michigan ambulance operators are legally required to provide emergency services “without prior inquiry into your ability to pay or source of payment,” so that nothing will deter them from providing the fastest response possible when treating people with life-threatening injuries. Be aware that if you’ve been hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you can include reimbursement for the cost of ambulance services in your demands for compensation from the person, company, or organization that caused your injuries when you file a personal injury lawsuit.
Be Honest, but Don’t Tell Witnesses, Police Officers, or Anyone Else That You Feel “Fine”
From early childhood, we’re all programmed to respond to questions about our well-being by responding, “I’m fine,” or, “No problem here,” or, “I’m doing okay.” It’s automatic for many of us to tell others everything is great, and to shrug off our personal feelings, even when we’re not really “doing okay” at all. But after an accident, it’s very likely you won’t be “fine” or even feeling the least bit “okay.” The problem is that if you tell witnesses, law enforcement officers, or first aid personnel that you aren’t experiencing pain, you’ve undermined future efforts to seek compensation when you’ve been genuinely hurt. You may even be preventing yourself from receiving medical care that could save your own life. So be honest. If you’re suffering pain or experiencing feelings of disorientation – or even if you’ve just been rattled by the experience – let other people know. Sometimes crash victims can go into shock several hours following an accident, which could result in permanent damage to essential organs or even become life-threatening. Don’t let that happen to you or someone you care about. Never deny or attempt to hide your genuine pain.
Don’t Hesitate to Take Pictures of the Accident Scene
When an accident happens, your phone can be your best friend. First of all, use it to call 911 to make sure help is on the way. But then, if you can, use your phone to thoroughly document the scene. Take detailed pictures of your vehicle and any others that were involved in the crash. Be sure to capture skid marks and the license plate of the vehicle that hit yours. Ask witnesses to share their contact information with you (which you can store on your phone by taking photos of their IDs). And take shots of anything else in the area that might have contributed to the cause of the accident (such as stop signs, traffic signals, snow, ice, gravel on the road surface, potholes, etcetera). You can also record video statements from willing witnesses, and document injuries photographically. Pictures can be worth a thousand words, and often become vital evidence in personal injury lawsuit trials down the road.
Don’t Leave the Scene of the Accident
One scary aspect of getting into an accident is the element of surprise you might experience from being thrust into an unexpected situation. You might find yourself in “fight or flight” mode – and be tempted to flee the scene even if you were completely innocent of any wrongdoing. Don’t do that! First of all, it’s against the law; secondly, it could result in you being charged for hit-and-run; finally, it can imply that you feel some responsibility for what happened when the collision was very likely not your fault in any way, shape, or form. Stay put and help others who might need first aid or require other kinds of assistance. It’s just the right thing to do, and actually protects you legally.
Don’t Discuss the Accident on Social Media
Recounting your frightening experience to friends and family through social media can be a tempting way to get things “off your chest” and to let go mentally of the stress an accident can cause. But we advise you against posting anything at all online following an accident. Whatever you share might be used against you by attorneys from the other side of a case, and even pictures you post of yourself long after the fact can be misconstrued by viewers who might not be able to see the real pain and trauma you’ve been suffering following the accident. As you probably know, we all want to portray ourselves in the best possible light on such platforms as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – even when we’re not truly at our best. Misrepresenting your actual physical condition gives ammunition to the people responsible for your injuries and can let them avoid having to face the music for what they did. So, protect your privacy, and your chances of winning a settlement, by avoiding social media postings.
Don’t Drive Your Damaged Vehicle
If your wrecked car is causing a disruption to the flow of traffic, and a police officer asks you to move it to the shoulder or onto another road nearby, it’s okay to follow their instructions. But we strongly advise against otherwise moving a vehicle that’s been damaged in a collision; doing so can exacerbate the damage or even result in fires that can put your life at risk. Wait for a tow truck to arrive, and for trained professionals to assess the situation. Yes, it can cause you to feel uncomfortable or guilty for holding up other motorists who are on their way to work or trying to get home but remember that you’d be understanding if you were in their situation, knowing that the short delay you’re facing is far less serious than the trauma they’ve just experienced (and may continue to experience).
Don’t Disobey Disrespect Police Officers or Emergency Personnel
Law enforcement personnel and EMTs are there to help if you need first aid, to protect you and your loved ones from other potentially angry motorists, and to help make sure that stressful situations don’t escalate into something far worse. If you treat authorities with respect, you’ll be far more likely to leave the accident scene more quickly and without further incident. Don’t forget that a police report is an essential piece of documentation produced following any accident to which law enforcement officers are called, so you’ll want to be sure that your actions depict you in the best light possible. Remain calm, stay with your vehicle and your passengers, follow any instructions you’re given, and you’ll be better off than drivers who become combative or attempt to blame others. Everything that took place can be sorted out later, so trying to prove someone’s guilt or arguing with police officers when they’re trying to do their jobs could backfire on you.
Don’t Call the Wrong Kind of Attorney
Attorneys are professionals who specialize in certain types of legal issues. Just as there are general practitioners in the medical field who act as primary care physicians, and other specialists like oncologists, pediatricians, and orthopedic surgeons who treat very specific illnesses or types of patients, there are lawyers who are well versed in specific areas such as real estate, corporate law, or personal injury cases. Choosing the wrong lawyer for your personal injury case would be like asking a cardiologist to diagnose and treat a broken leg! It’s simply not the best choice in that circumstance. For situations where you’ve been hurt through no fault of your own, personal injury attorneys like those on our team are your best bet. To connect with the right lawyer for your particular circumstances, call 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or contact us right here.
Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.