After a car accident, you might walk away with just a few cuts and bruises. More often than not, though, auto accidents result in broken bones, head injuries, whiplash, and internal bleeding.
But accidents don’t just happen on the road — they can occur anywhere and at any time, whether you’re at work, in a public place like a restaurant or shopping mall, or even just relaxing at home.
Those who suffer severe injuries will often require regular monitoring, physical therapy appointments, and medication to get by in their daily lives.
Treatment is vital for your health, but it also costs valuable cash. Even a minor injury can leave you forced to take time off work, and you might worry about how to afford your medical bills.
So what are your options?
What to Do Immediately after Your Accident
While easier said than done, the first thing you should do after an accident is try to stay calm and not panic.
Then, take stock of your injuries and, if you’re in an auto accident, assess the damage to your vehicle — if it’s safe to do so.
Having a clear record of the situation is vital if you want to claim compensation for an accident that wasn’t your fault or if you have insurance you want to claim from.
This means gathering contact information from any witnesses. If an insurance company tries to dispute what happened, having witness information who can corroborate what happened can be invaluable.
If you can’t collect witness information, all hope is not lost. In the event of a road accident, a person at the scene is required to call the police. Once they arrive, they will investigate what happened, including compiling a crash report. In this crash report, the investigating officer will note who was involved, who witnessed the accident, any damage done and its severity, and what factors may have contributed to the accident.
Once the crash report is filed, you can request a copy.
Get Medical Care Even if You Think You’re Not Injured
When you’re in an accident and have a minor injury, you might shrug it off and think, “No big deal.” But getting checked out is important, even if you aren’t in any pain.
Some injuries worsen over time, while others don’t immediately present symptoms. If you sustain a concussion but don’t realize it and continue with your regular activities, you may cause additional harm to your recovery.
Beyond the typical reasons to go to the doctor, you should also get checked out if you want to pursue legal action, such as filing a compensation claim.
Medical records prove when your injuries occurred and can be valuable evidence. If you choose not to go to the hospital or see a doctor after your accident, then later decide to claim compensation because your injuries have worsened, the responsible party may argue that your injuries were not a result of the accident.
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See What Your Health Insurance Covers
If you have health insurance, your policy may cover the medical bills associated with your injuries. Every policy is different, so check yours to see what it covers.
Whether or not you can claim from your health insurance depends on several factors, including whether or not you have coverage for accidents — and, if you do, what kind of accidents are covered — and how long ago your accident happened.
If your accident wasn’t your fault, such as if an intoxicated driver crashed into you or if you were injured due to a product defect, tell your insurance company when you claim. Your insurer may be able to honor your claim and recover the cost from the responsible party’s insurance company.
Check Your Auto Insurance Policy
When it comes to paying your medical bills, you may be entitled to recover costs from your auto insurance if you’re in a road accident.
Like health insurance, auto insurance policies vary, and whether or not you can claim from another party’s insurance depends on where you live.
In some states, such as Texas, all drivers must have liability insurance so that if you’re injured in an accident that is someone else’s fault, you can claim costs from their insurance. This works both ways, so if you cause an accident that injures another driver, they can recover their costs from your insurance.
Some policies only cover accidents valued to a certain amount, so check with your insurer to see what’s covered. If you’re in a state where drivers must have liability insurance — known as “fault” states, you should also check your policy to see if personal injury protection (PIP) is included. This can only be opted out of in writing, so it will likely be included by default. PIP covers medical expenses and can help cover lost wages if you’ve been unable to work.
Drivers in no-fault states, such as Florida, Massachusetts, and New York, must carry PIP to cover their expenses.
See if You’re Eligible for a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation is insurance that covers medical bills and lost wages if you’re injured at work.
In most states, your employer must take out workers’ compensation insurance to cover your medical costs and pay part of your salary while you recover from your injuries. Texas is the only state exempt from this, although individual states have certain exceptions based on size and revenue.
You cannot file a personal injury claim if you are entitled to workers’ compensation for a work injury.
Likewise, if your employer does not offer workers’ compensation benefits, you might be able to file a personal injury claim. This comes with a higher burden of proof — you must show that your employer was negligent or reckless, not just that you were injured while working.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you might be able to file a personal injury claim.
For example, you might be entitled to compensation in the following scenarios:
- You’re injured in a car accident caused by another driver who was speeding, intoxicated, or texting.
- You slip on a wet floor at a restaurant because management failed to warn customers.
- You’re injured at work because your employer fails to provide safety equipment, and they don’t have workers’ compensation.
A successful injury claim could result in a large cash settlement. You can recover your medical bills and lost wages, and additional damages for pain and mental anguish.
When you are injured in an accident, it’s vital to speak with a lawyer. For example, if you live in McAllen, a personal injury lawyer in Texas can advise you on your likelihood of success and how much you might be entitled to. They can also investigate all potential avenues for a claim, help you gather evidence, skilfully negotiate a fair settlement, and postpone payment of your medical bills until after you receive a settlement, lifting the burden on you to pay your bills while you focus on your recovery.