Your first concern after being involved in an auto accident should be your health. Do not be surprised if pain and stiffness do not occur right away. Here is what a recent client told us about the day of his accident:
I was not prepared to get hit (our client was rear ended on an expressway) but as soon as my car stopped moving I found myself gripping the steering wheel hard. My heart was pounding and my senses seemed enhanced – colors were brighter and sounds were more distinct. Every detail stood out. I drove slowly to the side of the road and I had to force myself to let go of the steering wheel although I did not get out of my car. The police officer came over and asked me if I was okay and did I need him to call an ambulance. I said that I felt fine. He smiled and said, “just wait until tomorrow.” He was certainly right about that – I could barely get out of bed the next morning and it turns out I suffered a concussion.
Our advice: even if it seems that you are not hurt, get yourself checked out by a physician. The instant of impact, your body will release copious amounts of adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone) that will mask any pain and allow you to “escape” perceived danger. Your adrenaline rush may last several hours and you may not even perceive pain until a day or even two days later.
Be Careful About Talking to Anyone or Signing any Documents
Just as your perception of pain may be delayed by stress hormones, your thought processes and emotions may be as well. It is possible that you will start receiving phone calls from people you do not know asking about your accident.
- be very careful about speaking with any insurance adjusters or agents right away. Everything else being equal, we prefer that our clients not speak with any insurance company representatives directly. Anything and everything you say can be used against you later. You also may not know how to answer certain questions – for example, the adjuster may ask you if you use Facebook, or may ask about prior accidents. This information can be revealed later on after you have had an opportunity to first discuss with your lawyer.
- do not sign any document relating to your accident without first speaking to a lawyer.
- you should politely hang up if you get calls from people representing chiropractors, pain clinics or lawyers. These people are called “runners” and they try to steer you to doctors or lawyers who pay them for the referrals. Runners monitor police frequencies and they buy police reports (which are public records). These shady characters are breaking the law – Georgia law forbids doctors and lawyers from soliciting business using runners. The lawyers, chiropractors and pain doctors who use runners are well known to insurance adjusters and to defense lawyers. Your case will lose significant settlement value if you seek care from or legal help from one of these doctors or lawyers. There are no circumstances under which you should be receiving unsolicited calls from a doctor or lawyer.
Write Down a Plan of Action
You will discover that you have entered a whole new world after you have been through the experience of a car accident. If you choose to proceed without a lawyer, you will find yourself giving recorded statements to an insurance adjuster, and negotiating with an adjuster for vehicle repair (or buyout) costs. You will need to review your own insurance coverage as well as the declarations page from the other driver. Assuming that the other diver’s insurance company “accepts liability” you will need to gear up for settlement negotiation by gathering medical records, lost wage proof and proof of other out of pocket costs.
Obviously another option would be to retain counsel to lead you through this process. Ginsberg Law is a family run firm (our owners are husband/wife lawyers Jonathan and Jodi Ginsberg). We handle injury cases on a no fee unless you win and we are happy to answer any questions you may have – no obligation. Please use the form on the side of this page to reach us.