Automobile accidents occur every hour of every day in the Greater Boston area.  In a matter of seconds, a car accident victim’s life can be dramatically changed as the result of another person’s negligence or failure to pay attention.  In addition to focusing on physical and emotional recovery, a victim must contend with a wrecked vehicle, lost wages, and mounting medical bills.

Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident can be daunting and confusing.  It is often next to impossible to get the other driver’s liability insurance company to deal with you fairly.  The other driver’s insurance company’s only goal is to pay you as little as possible as soon after the accident as possible.  The following DOs and DO NOTs are meant as a general guide to victims of automobile accidents, but nothing will take the place of an experienced and aggressive legal team.

DO:  Seek Appropriate Medical Treatment

Getting medical care and attending to your recovery should be your first priority.  All too often clients will be barred recovery or compensation for very real and painful physical or emotional injuries because they decided to ‘tough it out’ and refuse medical treatment.  The insurance company should be held at bay until the victim has reached a final medical end-result.  If you did not see a doctor or specialist regarding a certain injury or pain, the insurance company will assume you have not been harmed.

DO NOT:  Forget That You Have a Contract with Your Insurer

This means your insurer has a legal responsibility to provide the coverage promised in your policy.  If you are injured in a collision with a stolen vehicle, a hit-and-run accident, or by an underinsured motorist, your own insurer may be required to compensate you for your injuries.  You should speak with an attorney, as there are strict “notice” requirements and timing issues which could bar your recovery.

DO:  Notify Your Insurance Agent As Soon As You Are Able

You must notify your insurance agent immediately of any incident, and you should exercise your right to deny permission for your conversations to be recorded.  However, you should NOT give any recorded or written statements to another party’s insurer until you have spoken with an attorney. Once you have retained counsel, you should instruct all parties to communicate directly with counsel.

DO:  Take and Keep Detailed Notes

You should take and keep detailed notes of all conversations with insurance company representatives and get the names, phone numbers, and job titles of people with whom you speak.  It is also a good idea to keep detailed personal written notes about your injuries, treatment, medications, any pain or discomfort you experience, missed wages, and any changes in your daily routine as a result of the accident.  By the time your claim is ready for settlement or is filed in court as a lawsuit, it is difficult to remember or recall the specific pain, trauma, or discomfort experienced months or years earlier.

DO NOT:  Sign Waivers or Releases of Any Kind Until You Have Spoken with an Attorney

Do not accept any checks that say “final payment” unless you are truly ready to do so.  Often times, missed work and difficult financial circumstances following an accident can make a low and premature settlement offer more attractive to a client.  Oftentimes, the paperwork accompanying a settlement check will release the negligent driver from any and all liability or responsibility for your injuries.  Consult an attorney before accepting or signing any offers or releases.

DO:  Take Pictures

Take pictures of the scene of the accident or wreckage, and even your own injuries if possible.

If you have been in an accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of another person, contact one of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Vaughn-Martel Law.

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