Car crashes occur when another driver fails to follow the correct procedure and obey traffic laws, either through inattention, road conditions, drunk driving or various other reasons. A moment of inattention can lead to catastrophic results. Being involved in a car accident may cause severe injuries, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, lost wages, emotional trauma, etc. Obtaining the best possible personal injury settlement comes largely down to presenting the most complete evidence. All of your claims about your damages and personal injuries must be as well documented.
Here are important steps you need to take to successfully navigate your personal injury claim:
1. File the Police or DMV accident report. This should be filed with the DMV within 72 hours of the accident. If the police respond to the scene, they will complete the police report. You should get a copy of this document; if the accident was due to the other driver’s negligence, this will be strong evidence on your side.
2. Take Photos & Videos. If you are physically able to do so, you should take photographs with your cell phone of everything related to the accident: damages, injuries, positions of the vehicles involved, etc.
3. Record Statements. If possible, record what the other driver or drivers say to you after the crash. It is important to know why the other driver broke the rules.
4. Talk to Witnesses. Collect the contact information and statements of all accident witnesses. Don't count on the police. Memories fade with time, get a statement from the witnesses as soon as you can. Write down everything they tell you.
5. Keep Diary. Keep a diary after the crash of all expenses, traveling, the pain and suffering you experience, as well as lost work time and loss of enjoyment of life activities.
6. Request all Medical Records & Bills. Organize all medical records, bills, reports, handouts, business card in the separate injury case folder. There will be hundreds of pages of loose documents, but you must keep them all. Keep all empty medication bottles.
7. Keep all Correspondence from ANY Insurance Company. Delete nothing. Print each and every email, letter, records a voice mail from both insurance companies and place them in your injury folder.
Why others failed to settle their personal injury claims successfully:
For most personal injury cases in Oregon, you have from 6 months to two years from the date of the accident to file your claim (six months if you are bringing a claim against the government. Do not allow an insurance adjuster to convince you to settle the claim too quickly. Insurance companies want to settle for as little as possible because it is extremely profitable for them to settle for pennies on the dollar. All insurance companies do this today. Do not let this happen to you! Please call personal injury attorney to figure out the exact time to file your claim with courts. You will need to ask: "What is my "Statute of Limitations" deadline". Once you know your time limits, you will understand that you have plenty of time to get better. Don't get pushed by the insurance adjuster to settle your case as soon as possible. Talk to a good personal injury attorney before you even consider settling the claim.
At-Fault driver’s insurance company will contact you to get a recorded statement. Be careful of that request. Think why do they want to record your conversation? Do you record conversations with your friends? Everything recorded will be used against you at some point. No matter how friendly the adjuster is, remember this: You do not have any obligation to speak to the other driver’s insurance company, and you should not allow them to record anything. The best course of action is to have your attorney deal with the insurance company for the other driver.
One of the most frequent problems that lead to a lower settlement and verdicts is not going to the doctor immediately after a car accident. This is a big mistake. It is important to be medically evaluated after the crash, so you have a written record from a doctor of all your injuries. Those injuries need to be connected to the accident you just had if you want to obtain a fair compensation later. Attorneys do understand that some people try to save money because for many moneys are tight. Some people cannot take time off work or afraid to be fired if they do. But your health is the most important thing you have. It is important to get better so you can keep earning that money later. If you did not visit your doctor within 24 hours, the insurance company will always use it against you. The defense lawyers and insurance companies will likely maintain that your injuries were not serious; after all, you did not go to the doctor immediately, therefore your injuries must be due to another cause.
There are many injuries that you could suffer in a car accident that may not be immediately apparent. For example, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) could be present but the symptoms might not be noticeable upon a cursory medical examination. Or, if you are treating with chiropractic physician, that doctor might not be fully qualified to diagnose that kind of injury. If you feel off, strange, tired, nauseated, etc. you may have a concussion and it is important to be seen by a specialist. With minimal symptoms in the first few days; this is easy for some doctors to miss or just disregard your symptoms. Did you know that many injured people end up with depression as a result of a brain injury and a pain from the accident. It is important to be seen by a good doctor that can diagnose, treat and fix you correctly. Missing these injuries in the initial medical examinations will result in a lower settlement. Remember to ask for specialist referral and make sure to follow up with all suggested tests like MRI or X-Rays.
After a car accident with injuries, you will be prescribed a medical treatment plan from your medical professionals. It could involve multiple appointments, physical therapy sessions, X-Rays, MRIs, chiropractic treatments and manipulations as well as other medical treatments. In more serious accidents, you could have medical treatment going for months or years. If you want the insurance company to consider your injuries fully you must complete ordered treatment every time. If you do not do so (for any reason – good or bad), the insurance company will argue that you were not as seriously injured as you claim. In fact, they might even blame you for still having those lasting health problems because if you did complete the treatment then you wouldn’t have any health problems left. *If you are going through the treatment, but not getting better, please ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist for a reevaluation.
Oregon Law required accident victims that may have serious future medical costs to be compensated fully. Most injured people are unaware of this fact. If you settle too soon and for too little, you could be saddled with huge medical costs down the road. There are debates going on in our government about preexisting conditions almost on the regular bases. Think if the law changes what it might do to you as you will be a person with the preexisting condition since now on. In addition, you could also have injuries that prevent you from working for many months in the future or even retiring much too early and therefore losing a lot of money you would have otherwise made. Remember to get your case reviewed by a personal attorney, you could be under-compensated for your future earnings losses. *Once you sign the settlement papers, the case cannot be reopened.
Some drivers carry minimal auto insurance or no insurance at all to save money. This is sadly very common nowadays. It is for that reason that you should carry additional uninsured or underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist protection on your own policy. That way, you are protected if you are injured by a driver with minimal or no insurance coverage. Make sure that you actually use your own policy’s UIM coverage, so you can get compensation for your injuries. Remember that you paid and still are paying to the insurance company those really high premiums. This is a time to use your insurance coverage. *Your attorney can work with you to uncover all possible in effect insurance policies for everyone involved in the accident to maximize your settlement.
Economic damages in a personal injury case are easy to quantify. They include medical expenses, lost wages, and out of pocket costs after the accident, etc. Oregon Law states that injured people must recover non-economic damages if economic damages are awarded. In determining the amount of noneconomic damages, if any, consider each of the following: pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, or humiliation that you have sustained from the time you were injured until the present and that you probably will sustain in the future as the result of your injuries; Any inconvenience and interference with your normal and usual activities apart from activities in a gainful occupation that you find have been sustained from the time you were injured until the present and that you probably will sustain in the future as the result of your injuries; etc. *It takes an experienced personal injury attorney to understand what the potential is for your non-economic damages.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis: They are not paid unless you are. Attorneys usually offer a “Free Consultation” to review your case to see what are your damages and how much money you must ask to be fairly compensated. It is nearly always a good idea to have any personal injury case reviewed by an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.
If you have been injured as a result of the wrongdoing of another, you could be entitled to monetary compensation. Contact Herron Law 503-699-6496 24/7 today to set up a free consultation!