Document Extent of Injuries
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 6 million motor vehicle accidents occur each year. In those, 2.6 million people are injured.
Massachusetts car accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman recognize that while many of those injured are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, wages losses and ongoing pain and suffering, many will not receive their due because they lacked adequate documentation.
Common traffic collision injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Bruising and abrasions
- Neck sprains (i.e., whiplash)
- Soft tissue injuries
- Seat belt injuries
- Facial injuries
- Head injuries
The aftermath of a crash can be chaotic. You may be dazed, angry, full of adrenaline, in serious pain and possibly even unconscious.
Immediate medical attention for all who require it should be the first priority. But it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that insurance companies are going to rely heavily on the documentation of injuries in deciding the value of a claim – and how much they should pay.
Injured persons cannot rely solely on police investigators, witnesses or even medical staff. Often, it is up to those most seriously hurt to make sure all relevant documentation and information are provided to the insurance company, and that means knowing what kind of evidence is important. This is where the experience of a personal injury lawyer can be invaluable.At the Scene
Although police investigators are not the deciding authority on the extent of injuries or even who was to blame, the accident report he or she generates will be carefully considered by the adjuster. If no one calls the police and no accident report is generated, there will be a presumption that the accident – and therefore any injuries – was very minor.
In that case, it will be more difficult for someone who is injured to step outside Massachusetts’ no-fault auto accident laws to obtain compensation beyond personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, which max out at $8,000. That’s why it’s wise to always contact the police. The officer should take note of:
- Date, time and location of the crash
- Personal information and statements from drivers, passengers, and any witnesses
- Description of related injuries
- Description of vehicles involved
- Diagram of the scene and point of impact
- Road and weather conditions
- Type and extent of property damage
- Contributing factors (i.e., speed, alcohol impairment, etc.)
The officer may also take photographs of the scene, the injuries, and damage to cars. It’s not a bad idea for those involved to do the same, to ensure that evidence is preserved.At the Hospital
If your injuries are severe, you will likely be automatically transported to the hospital by emergency responders.
However, even when injuries are not immediately apparent, it’s best to seek medical attention as soon as possible after the crash. Soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash and other sprains and strains, are common in accidents, yet they may not always be obvious right away. Delaying an exam not only puts you at risk for injuries that could worsen over time, but it may also make it more difficult to prove those injuries later.
By seeking medical treatment as soon as possible after the crash, you can better establish a connection between your injuries and the accident. This link will be vital to settling the claim for an appropriate sum. If you are not transported by ambulance immediately from the scene, make sure you inform the nurses and physician that you were just involved in an auto accident.
Any medical records and bills generated from these visits will be critically important to your claim. Start a file containing these records, as well as any prescription medications required, referrals for surgery or physical therapy and the corresponding bills for the initial and follow-up treatments.
If there was no opportunity at the scene of the accident to have your injuries photographed, do so at this point.Follow-Up Care
You will want to continue taking photographs of your injuries as they heal so that insurance adjusters have proof of progress – or lack thereof.
In addition, it’s a good idea to keep a “Medical Diary.” This will be a single folder or binder that will contain information such as:
- Dates, times and outcomes of all medical consultations and appointments
- Details explaining the ongoing nature of injuries and the impact on daily life. These might include difficulty bathing, inability to work, missed professional opportunities, missed school or classes, hobbies or activities from which you have been forced to withdraw, etc.
- Description of pain and other symptoms
- Documentation of any and all prescription medications you receive
Although we call it a “diary,” keep in mind these are records that could be used in court, so you’ll want to keep your descriptions and notes clinical, except where you may note emotional turmoil or other harm.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL