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What to Do after a Car Accident: Advice from a Paralegal

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What to Do after a Car Accident: Advice from a Paralegal

We’ve seen firsthand how being involved in a car accident can wreak havoc on an individual’s finances, personal life and mental well-being. As a personal injury paralegal, I’ve helped many clients navigate the stress that accompanies being involved in a serious accident.  It can leave you completely overwhelmed.

Although each individual’s circumstances vary, here are some common concerns and questions about what to do after a car accident:

Get the medical treatment you need.

Your first priority should be getting the medical treatment you need.

It is important to communicate to your doctor every complaint you have, even if you think it’s minor at the time. Some clients tend to dismiss minor aches/pains thinking they will go away and instead focus on more serious injuries. As it turns out, those minor issues may become more bothersome down the road. Having it documented in your medical record early will make it easier for the insurance company to connect it to the accident.

You should consider keeping a journal of your symptoms. We constantly remind our clients to document everything. You may forget some important details and a journal will be a helpful reminder as your case moves forward. Also, your paralegal will most likely ask you to keep them updated on medical treatments, including which doctors you are seeing, changes in your treatment plan and how you are feeling. Following your doctor’s orders is key.

Get a handle on your financial stress.

Financial stress always comes up. You’re injured and have medical bills piling up…what do you do? It’s important to know that liability insurance will not pay your medical bills up front. You will receive compensation at settlement after the insurance company has fully evaluated your claim.

If you have health insurance, you should always submit medical bills to your insurance. This will make sure bills are being paid while you receive medical treatment and the insurance company evaluates your claim. There are times when a client shares that a medical provider refuses to submit to the insurance company. If that is the case, let your paralegal know. We frequently contact medical providers on behalf of our clients.

What if the health insurance company paid a portion of the bill and you have a remaining balance? If you can afford it, pay it. Or, if you’re in a situation where you can’t pay the balance all at once, work with your provider to arrange a payment plan and keep it out of collections.

If you don’t have health insurance, let your paralegal and attorney know right away. We encourage our clients to apply for some sort of health insurance as soon as possible. In the meantime, your legal team may be able to reach out to your providers and ask that they hold off on collections until your case is resolved. Many providers will agree to change the account over to a third-party account. This will keep collectors at bay and remove some of the financial stress. Once your case has settled, your attorney can negotiate to reduce the amount you owe.

In addition to the medical bills piling up, your injuries may prevent you from working. Keep track of the time you’re missing from work. This documentation helps your legal team accurately calculate your wage loss amount, which will be important to share with the insurance company as part of your damages. Also, talk to your paralegal about the specific hardship you’re facing. At Brown & Crouppen, we strive to connect our clients with the resources they need during difficult times.

Keep track of any changes in your ability to do everyday things.

Keep an account of the things you have difficulty doing. Can you no longer mow your lawn? Is it difficult to go up and down stairs? Are you not able to hold your child? Think about how your life has changed as a result of the accident. This information will help your attorney when discussing your claim with the insurance company.

Be mindful of your mental well-being.

Lastly, we often hear: I’m afraid to get back in a car again. Or, I have anxiety attacks and flashbacks of the accident. Or, I feel guilty that I can’t help my family out like I used to do. And, I just don’t feel like myself and it is causing relationship problems. Any of this sound familiar?

These are all normal feelings after being involved in a serious accident. If you’re involved in one, there is a greater chance that you may suffer from anxiety or depression. Talk to your doctor about your feelings. You could be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  and your doctor will know how best to help you.

Remember: the better the information you provide to your legal team, the better positioned your paralegal and attorney are to represent you and convey your situation to the insurance company. If you’d like to learn more, call for a free, confidential consultation at 1-816-330-2218 or submit your request using our online form.

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