Unfortunately, many of us know what it’s like to be in a car accident… the adrenaline, the shaky nerves, the relief that things could’ve been much worse… and the pain, too.
But knowing what to do right after a car crash can be hard in the moment with so much going on. Just a few simple actions can help make the difference in proving fault and getting a payout for any injuries you’ve suffered. Especially if the accident wasn’t your fault.
Even minor car accidents can cause serious injuries, sometimes with lifelong health effects. Maryland personal injury law helps “make you whole” – like the crash never happened. Of course, it’s impossible to literally undo your injuries. However, the law uses monetary compensation to help take some of the burden of your injuries off your shoulders.
Step 1: Check for Immediate Injuries
Safety first. Before doing anything else, check on yourself and any passengers in your car. Get to safety if you’re still in danger. Call 911 if anyone is unconscious, bleeding, or unable to move. If it’s safe for you, check on the people in any other cars involved in the accident. But beware of traffic as other vehicles may not expect to see pedestrians on the road.
Keep in mind that adrenaline may cloud your judgment and try to remain calm until help arrives.
Step 2: Document Evidence of Your Accident
If you’re physically able and the area is safe, you should immediately start documenting evidence of your accident. Whether you end up filing an injury claim with your insurance company or against the other driver, hard evidence is the best way to build a strong case.
Evidence is the most important part of any personal injury claim. The better evidence you have, the better chance you have at proving your case – and the more likely you are to get a good settlement offer or court judgment for damages.
In order to get compensated for your injuries, you must show that:
- The accident was caused by the negligence or recklessness of someone else, and
- You suffered injuries that needed medical treatment as a direct result of the accident.
Evidence is also strongest right when it’s fresh – before witness memories fade or the scene of the accident changes. Something as simple as the angle of the sun or the position of a hedge could have contributed to the accident. In some cases, you may not even realize what caused the accident until you examine the evidence with a trained eye.
When it comes to establishing your best personal injury case, evidence could include:
- Photos and videos of the scene of the accident
- Statements and testimony from witnesses at the scene
- Security footage from nearby traffic or storefront cameras
- Employment records if a commercial driver was involved in the crash
- Cell phone and text message records to check for distracted driving
- Information from the “black box” of your vehicle (the event data recorder or EDR)
- Records or recalls from the manufacturer showing the car had a defect
If you’re at the scene of an accident, focus on documenting as much as you can safely manage. Photos and videos freshly taken at the time of the crash are the best type of evidence you can get. Take out your phone camera and record the scene from every possible angle. Once you’re done, make sure to get the contact information of anyone who saw the accident. These could be passerby pedestrians or good samaritan drivers who stopped to help.
A personal injury lawyer can help you with the rest of the evidence-gathering process. Your attorney can reach out to witnesses, nearby businesses, and commercial driver employers to get their official statements and any important documents you need for your case.
If they refuse to comply, your lawyer can file a subpoena to legally compel them to cooperate. Unfortunately, this can happen when people want to avoid taking responsibility for the accident.
Step 3: Get Proper Medical Attention
It’s extremely important that you get medical attention as soon as possible after your car accident, even if you feel “fine.” Many car accident injuries are latent – you may not realize you’ve been injured until days, weeks, or even months after the crash. This is especially true for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) like concussions that can cause major issues down the line.
In addition to taking care of your health, your medical record makes up a critical part of the evidence in your car accident case or lawsuit. A timely medical record helps:
- Determine the cause of your injuries,
- Detail the full extent of the harm you’ve suffered, and
- Anticipate how much treatment you’ll need to get better.
Not only does your medical record tie your injuries to your accident, but it also plays a major role in the amount of compensation (called “damages”) you can expect to get in a lawsuit. Compensatory damages are supposed to pay for your medical treatment – past, present, and future. Medical treatments can get expensive. You want to have a good idea of what treatments you’ll need to make sure they’re covered under your lawsuit.
If you wait too long after to see a doctor, you may have a much harder time proving that your injuries were caused by the accident. Plus, Maryland has a 3-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. After that, you could lose your chance to file a claim forever.
A good personal injury lawyer can help you not just file your claim but also care for your health.
Contingency Fee Structure
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, now is not the time for you to worry about how you can possibly afford to pay a lawyer. The legal team at Ferrante, Dill & Hisle know this, which is why we take our car accident personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. You don’t pay us any legal fees until we recover damages for you.
Our attorneys can help you get the medical treatment you need and hold the party at fault responsible for the harm they’ve caused you. Call our Calvert County attorneys today at our Prince Frederick offices at (410) 535-6100 to get started on your case.