The Holiday season means cold weather, celebrations and sadly, car accidents. Some of the days drivers are most likely to get in a car crash happen during this festive time. Here are 12 tips to help if you've been in a car accident this Holiday Season.
By Jason Hernandez
9 min read
The Holiday Season means Hannukkah, Christmas, and celebrations. Unfortunately, it also means that this is the season of car accidents. 5 Days with the highest number of car crashes happen during this time of year.
Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day are consistently some of the most dangerous days to drive.
We hope that you don’t get in a car accident, but if you do, we’ve put together a list of tips for your injury claim based on almost 40 years helping Colorado car accident victims.
1. Collect any evidence you can
In most car accident cases, you only need to provide the other drivers with your name and insurance information. While you may want to discuss the details of the accident with the other driver, keep your interactions to a minimum so you don't accidentally admit guilt, blame the other driver, or reveal your insurance policy limits.
Although the police will gather this information for the police report, you should try to gather the following information while on the motor vehicle accident scene:
The other driver's name and insurance information, including policy number and insurer phone number.
If the other driver is willing to provide it, their phone number.
Contact information for the witnesses.
The officer’s badge number and name.
Ask the officer for the police report or incident number – you’ll need this later.
2. Take pictures (and video) of the accident
You should meticulously document the car accident scene. Instead of taking selfies, flip the camera around and take photos and video of the car crash scene. Here's a rundown of everything you should record:
Photographs of all damage, including that to the other driver's vehicle.
Photograph of the license plate of the other driver.
The accident's date and time.
Personal notes on what happened, including your speed and road conditions. Draw a diagram of the scene and how the accident occurred, including the direction each vehicle was traveling, if possible.
Some insurance companies, provide free smartphone apps to assist you in documenting the details of a collision.
3. File a claim immediately and with both insurance companies (Yours and theirs) –
Our car accident attorneys have found that property damage claims are often resolved faster and more thoroughly when you file a claim through your own insurance. If your injuries will require additional follow-up appointments and treatments, having reliable transportation will make it much easier to get to and from your appointments.
If the other driver’s insurance has lapsed or doesn’t cover your medical costs, they will already be aware of your car accident. Don't be afraid to use your own insurance. It is there to be used when needed.
4. Don't give statements to the other driver’s insurance company –
The other driver’s insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible. Anything you say to them will likely be recorded and used later against you.
A lot of people reflexively respond positively to opening questions like “How are you” or “How is your day going.” Many communication experts have blog articles or YouTube videos titled “Stop saying ‘I’m fine’” because so many people reflexively say it.
When you file your claim, only provide facts about the crash (where it happened, who was involved, what the police report number is, etc…), and that you are injured (if you’re actually injured). Let a medical professional determine which injuries you have and don’t have and more importantly, let your medical records provide information about your injuries.
No matter what they say, you can refuse to give a recorded statement until you are 100% ready. You can even request that the adjuster communicate through email instead of talking over the phone. If you are working with your own insurance, then you must work with them.
5. See a Doctor immediately
Go to an emergency room, urgent care or see your primary care physician ASAP. Going the same day as your crash is ideal. The faster you get diagnosed, the faster your injuries can be treated.
Your health takes priority over everything else. Our Car accident attorneys have had cases with injuries that seemed very minor – at first. After a few days or weeks, they became forgetful, suffered headaches and showed other symptoms of an undiagnosed traumatic brain injury.
Even if you don’t think you’re injured, let a doctor confirm it. The best case is there are no injuries and you get reimbursed for the visit in your settlement. The worst case is the doctor diagnoses you with an injury (or injuries) and you begin medical treatment. Neither is a bad scenario.
Any delay in diagnosis will delay treatment and healing, but also gives the insurance company an opportunity to say your injuries were not a result of the car crash - and deny your personal injury claim.
6. Tell the doctor about EVERY issue you have from the crash –
Remember this phrase : If it is not documented, then it does not exist.
Some car accident injuries may not even be painful but display other symptoms like numbness or loss of mobility. If it didn’t exist prior to your car crash, have the doctor or nurse chart it.
No issue is too small. You likely won’t need to tell the doctor about anything visible such as cuts or broken bones, but sometimes people overlook less painful injuries when talking with medical professionals immediately after a crash.
Remember that we need to let your medical records tell the insurance company about your injuries. If it isn't in your medical records, it doesn't exist.
7. Exhaust all benefits –
MedPay, PIP, and UIM/UM are parts of the car insurance policy you’ve been paying for. Now it’s time to use them.
Medical Payments (MedPay) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) can provide a lot of financial assistance after a crash with minor injuries. Besides paying for medical bills, they can help you pay for any temporary medical equipment such as slings and braces, but can also be used to reimburse you for other treatments such as massages, accupuncture, etc...
Depending on the state you live in, these benefits may not have to be repaid with your settlement unlike your health insurance.
If medical treatments for you injuries exhaust the other driver’s policy limits, your Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist coverage is there for these situations. With the high cost of medical treatments, the state minimum insurance coverage likely won't be enough for any serious injury.
If you’re reading this and do not have MedPay or UIM/UM coverage with your car insurance, we highly suggest adding them.
For severe injuries, a car accident attorney will guide you on exhausting these resources to pay for your treatment before discussing alternative methods to pay for your medical treatments.
8. Use your health insurance –
The coverage from Car Insurance policies won't pay for medical treatments as you treat. The insurance coverage you'll rely on while treating will likely be your own health insurance.
Some medical providers will attempt to bill the other driver’s car insurance or your car insurance for MedPay or PIP. If they do this and don’t get paid, then you may find yourself in collections for bills that you thought were being paid by your health insurance.
Our Colorado car accident attorneys have seen this many times. The stress from a collection agency can pressure you into accepting a low settlement.
Stay on top of the billing and direct your providers to bill your health insurance to prevent this.
You will have to repay your health insurance company with your settlement. Keep this in mind especially when a settlement offer is presented.
9. Don't settle quickly –
It isn’t uncommon for the insurance adjuster to make a settlement offer quickly. Don’t accept it.
You need to heal fully before accepting anything. Once you accept an offer and sign releases, you cannot open another claim for the crash.
If you accept an early settlement and your injury requires additional treatment because it didn’t heal properly, you can’t ask the insurance company for more money.
10. Document every change in your life –
Any pain (no matter how small), digestive issues, sleepless nights, anxiety, sexual changes, etc… document anything new after your car crash.
Your claim may take months or more than a year to finalize. When you probably can’t remember what you ate for dinner last Tuesday, this will be your way of providing a history of how the crash impacted your day to day life.
It will be evidence, so don’t write anything you won’t want read in front of other people.
11. Document every interaction with the insurance company –
Anytime you have to deal with the insurance adjuster, write it down. Insurance adjusters know that people forget things – and some may even use this to their favor.
When you talk with the insurance company, take note of:
Who you spoke with
What was discussed
Any letters/documents sent/received
If you’re waiting for a response about something, a common tactic for adjusters is to say they never got your voicemail/email or don’t know what you’re referring to. You can simply look at your journal and give a definitive answer.
12. Social media is not your friend –
Anything and everything you post will be scrutinized and used against you.
You may drive to Winterpark for a family weekend and post a photo of a fireplace and cup of hot cocoa. While you may spend the entire weekend on the couch reading or binge watching TV while your family hits the slopes, but an adjuster may see it as a sign that you’re not as injured as you claim if you were snowboarding all weekend.
Once something is posted online, whether it looks bad or not, you can NOT remove it. This could be even more damaging than leaving it online.
Stay off social media to play it safe. If you absolutely have to get on it, be VERY cautious what you post. You never know what can be taken out of context.
Consult with a car accident attorney –
It may be surprising to hear this from attorneys, but car accident attorneys aren’t needed for every crash and every injury claim. You may be offered the maximum payout allowed (policy limits) or you may have a minor injury claim.
Severe injuries and certain types of cases (ex. Truck accident) are situations where experienced car accident injury attorneys are needed. If you aren’t sure whether you need an attorney or not, please call our car accident attorneys about your case. Metier Law Firm offers free consultations for car accident and other personal injury claims.
Do I have a case?
How much should I be offered?
Do I need an attorney?
If these questions have crossed your mind, let us help. You may need a little direction or may not need an attorney at all, but you deserve to be confident knowing your options. Your confidential consultation with us is totally free.