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10 Ways to Protect Your Health and Your Insurance Claim After a PA Car Wreck.
Everyone wants to help after a Pennsylvania car accident. Your mother has referred you to her chiropractor. Your yoga instructor has given you a complimentary bottle of organic arnica oil for your bruises. The lawyer on late night T.V. wants you to call for a free consultation. And, your insurance agent wants you sign forms, so you can get a check fast. Whose help do you really need?
Your mom means well, but her chiropractor is the same kid that pushed you off the swings in third grade. The arnica oil won’t hurt you, but it won’t fix your car or pay your medical bills. Your insurance agent’s offer could help, but his priority is to protect his company’s bottom line by offering you the smallest possible settlement. And, the lawyer on late night TV? He wants a percentage of that settlement.
So, what should you really do after a Pennsylvania car crash?
Ten Steps After a Pennsylvania Car Accident
- Stay calm. Don’t get angry at the other driver or apologize for the accident. The other driver can use your behavior as evidence of fault if your claim goes to court.
- Stay at the scene. Check to see if anyone is seriously injured. Call 911 if you or anyone else is hurt.
- File an accident report. Use your phone to report your accident to the police. If there are no serious injuries, the police may not be willing come to the scene. In that case you will need to file Form AA-600 within five days of the accident.
- Get medical care. Go to the emergency room or make an appointment to see your regular doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Even minor accidents can result in serious injuries. The doctor will check for hidden injuries and give you a list of signs to watch for. Follow all your doctor’s instructions.
- Exchange information. Get the name, phone number, address, and insurance information of any other drivers involved in the crash.
- Collect evidence. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident scene and any conditions that may have contributed to the accident. Take pictures of all vehicles involved, their relative positions, and any vehicle damage. Take pictures of your injuries. Get names, phone numbers, addresses and e-mail addresses of all potential witnesses. Save any torn clothing or broken possessions in a sealed bag. Keep any bills and receipts related to the crash. This evidence may be important if the insurance company refuses to pay your claim.
- Write down everything you remember about the accident. You will be very busy in the days after your car wreck. The details of the accident may begin to fade from your memory. Write down everything that occurred before, during, and after the wreck while it is fresh in your mind. This will prevent you from giving inconsistent answers at a later date.
- Notify your insurance company. Call your insurance company and let them know you have been in an accident. Avoid giving too many details.
- Be wary of any offers from the insurance companies: the insurance company may make a settlement offer within days of an accident. It may seem that you lucked out and are getting great service, but the truth is that it’s too early to know the true value of your claim. You don’t know the extent of your medical ebills and you don’t know how long it will be until you can return to work. Don’t agree to a fast settlement, you could give up your chance to receive fair compensation.
- Decide whether you need an attorney. You don’t need a lawyer for every accident claim; however, you will want an attorney if you have serious injuries, your car has been totaled, or there is any doubt about who was at fault for the crash. If you need legal assistance, look for a lawyer who has handled similar cases and has the experience to take your case to court if necessary.
Jon Ostroff has aggressively defended Pennsylvania accident victims for more than 20 years. If the insurance company isn’t taking your claim seriously, call Ostroff Injury Law at 800-688-6489. We’ll review your case, let you know what your claim is worth, and advise you of your rights. There is no obligation and no charge for the consultation.