- January 5, 2017
- Car Accidents
- Personal Injury Law
As an attorney who handles Asheville car accident claims every day, I want to help people stay informed and know their rights. It’s important to understand the legal landscape of an auto accident claim, but also how certain factors specific to Asheville and Western NC, in general, can affect your claim.
Follow your physician’s medical advice
If you’ve been in an accident and have been injured, it is imperative that you allow medical personnel such as Buncombe EMS to treat you at the accident scene, and transport you to the hospital if they deem it necessary. If the doctor in the ER says to follow up with your primary care doctor in 5-7 days, I recommend you follow this. If their office cannot see you in that timeframe for any reason, go back to the ER or an Urgent Care facility within that window. Why? Because “Gaps in Treatment” are viewed as proof of a minor or no injury at all. As far as an insurance adjuster is concerned, people who have serious injuries follow the medical advice of their doctor. Period.
Gaps in Treatment
Don’t allow for gaps in treatment to occur. You need to make sure that you receive initial medical attention (by an MD or PA/NP) at a medical facility within a few days after your accident, ideally within 48 hours, especially if the injuries are significant and are going to require continued treatment. If you don’t go to the ER or your MD’s office following a crash, and then you submit thousands of $$ in chiropractic (or PT) bills for a car accident, the insurance company is more than likely going to deny the claim. You’ll be saddled with the bills from your medical providers, who will now look to you for repayment. So while it may seem like overkill to be treated by EMS and in the ER for “just a sore neck”, you’re much better 0ff safe than sorry. Get checked out, and follow their orders if you hope to get these bills paid by the at-fault insurance company.
Who Was Ticketed For the Accident?
If the other driver was at fault in the accident, and Asheville Police Dept. responded, ask the officer if they have cited that driver in the official NC accident report. Look for citations like: ‘failure to reduce speed’, ‘failure to stop’, ‘following too closely’ or ‘reckless driving’. APD officers sometimes cite the at-fault party, but often they do not, which makes things a little more difficult when it comes time to establish fault and settle your claim.
Our blog contains several other posts about how to document your crash, in order to gather the necessary evidence to present to the insurance company if/when it is needed. In addition, we offer information about handling your claim on your own, or if you need an attorney to settle your claim. I recommend reading those posts to familiarize yourself with some of these topics. We often advise clients on how to handle an accident claim on their own, if the accident and the injuries are minor and clear-cut enough. If there were witnesses at the accident, be sure to get their contact information, in case there is a disagreement about whose fault the crash was. Having an eyewitness to back up your side of the story is of immeasurable value. Sometimes these witnesses are listed on the accident report, but not always. Get their info yourself so you can call on them if needed later on down the road.
Speaking to an Adjuster
The next thing to know is that you will likely be receiving a call from the other driver’s insurance adjuster. Sometimes they call right away, while you may still be receiving medical treatment. Be aware that the adjuster is NOT calling you promptly out of concern for your wellbeing. They’re likely calling you, hoping to obtain a recorded statement that they can use that against you at a later date. Let me explain why this is a tactic: with minor or soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains, or even whiplash, symptoms can evolve and increase over the first couple days. Often in the minutes and hours following an accident, the severity of these injuries hasn’t become evident to the victim yet, as adrenaline surges and shock remains. If they can get you on record saying that you’re not hurt too badly, they CAN and WILL use that to diminish the severity of the accident when it comes down to settlement negotiations. Our advice is: don’t talk to an adjuster until you’re ready. There is no rush to give them a statement, and don’t let them pressure you into talking to them. One of the many benefits of having an attorney represent you in these matters is that you can direct all communications to your lawyer. This allows you to focus on your medical care while having the confidence that a skilled professional is handling this verbal minefield.
Document your Injuries
In order for an insurance adjuster to properly value your injuries, there has to be evidence of these injuries in your medical records. If you don’t tell your MD about all of your symptoms, they will not end up in your chart, and thus will not be considered by an adjuster. You may sound like a broken record telling the same doctor that your knee is “still hurting” at your 4th follow up appointment after your wreck, but conveying this information is crucial, and is the only way to ensure that an adjuster is going to take those injuries seriously.
There are many different pieces that factor into the value and validity of your Asheville Car Accident case. In order to be properly compensated for your injuries, property damage and lost wages, it is imperative that you take great care to receive prompt and thorough medical attention, document the accident.
Read on to find out what to do if the at-fault driver wasn’t ticketed in your accident.
This information is designed to act as a guide and is NOT legal advice. Always contact an experienced attorney directly in order to get the most accurate information related to your case, and to establish attorney/client communication.