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What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident

Updated: Jan 26, 2020

I know that when I was injured in an auto accident I did not know where to turn for advice. I was a university student, with no legal training and no one in my family had ever worked with an attorney before. I was just beginning my first year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and I remember vividly the pain in my neck and back the morning after the accident when I got out of bed to head to my second day of classes. I recall sitting down in class and hardly being able to turn my head to the side at my desk, without feeling intense pain in my neck and back, pain I had never experienced before. For many years after, I suffered low back pain when driving a car, or sitting for prolonged periods of time. All of this happened to me through no fault of my own when another driver turned into me at an intersection and totaled my car. If I had not thought to contact the campus attorney, I would have foolishly taken the insurance companies first settlement offer, which would have barely covered my bill for treatment at a local chiropractor.

If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact my firm for a complimentary review of the facts and details of your case. I will work with you to figure out the best options for you going forward based on the facts of your situation. If I feel your case is one in which you would benefit from speaking to a personal injury attorney, I can refer you to local attorneys who we know and trust to help you further.

You should also review my latest video below, where I talk about some basic steps you should take after the accident, including tips on gathering and saving accident scene information and discusses when and how you should seek medical treatment and a consultation with an attorney. The most important thing is to know your rights and be informed, in order to ensure that if you are ever in such a situation you are able to get the medical treatment you need after the accident has occurred. Injuries from auto accidents can last for months or years, therefore if you have suffered bodily injury in an accident it is important to obtain independent legal advice before entering into any sort of settlement negotiation with an insurance company.

Transcript of Video: What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident

Today it's winter driving season here in

Wisconsin and regardless of where you

live you know that oftentimes the roads

can be slippery and the weather

unpredictable so I wanted to talk about

a few tips of what to do if you're ever

in a motor vehicle accident I know

myself I had the unfortunate experience

of being in a motor vehicle accident on

the first day of school when I was going

to my first day of university as a

college student and I was traveling to

school when another driver turned into

me t-boned the front of my car totally

wrecking the car and totaling the car

and I got out of the car I was just

sort of shocked initially and I saw the

damage to the car but physically I felt

okay or so I thought

but I remember waking up the next

morning and trying to go to class and I

couldn't turn my head hide the from side

to side and sitting and walking were

painful and that's because I had

whiplash and soft tissue injuries so if

you're ever in a car accident the first

thing you want to do is make sure you

and others are okay so if it's you in an

accident you want to check for injuries

get yourself out of the car away from

danger but if it's someone else you see

don't try to move an injured person what

you want to do is call police and/or the

ambulance if necessary but make sure you

report the collision to the police so

they can get on site and start helping

you if it's your car damaged and you're

able to get out and walk around you

might want to snap some pictures on your

smartphone of the damage in the accident

scene while you wait for police turn on

your hazards if they're working on the

car try to get out of the way so you

don't get injured by other traffic and

again if it's snowy conditions there

could be others having

the same problem near where you are if

you have road flares or something like

that you can set those out then you want

to exchange information with the other

driver if the other driver was involved

and again the same advice about if

they're injured don't try to move them

but get their name address phone number

exchange insurance information you could

take a picture on your smartphone and

give that information about yourself to

the other driver if you have any

witnesses around try to get their

information - and then when the police

officer comes ask for his business card

and the incident ID number because that's

going to be key to getting the accident

report later if you are thinking and

have time you might want to jot down

some basic notes about what happened

while it's fresh in your memory and

again you could do that on a notepad or

open a note app in your smartphone and

take it down and date it now even if you

think the accident is your fault it's

often best to just stay silent at this

point the other driver may or may not

have been partially responsible as well

and there's other variables such as road

conditions and traffic and other factors

that will come down to assigning fault

in the accident so an admission of fault

that the scene could be used against you

later as a legally binding admission so

it's general in general it's better to

just stay quiet at that point make sure

everyone's okay but avoid making a

statement of fault to anyone even though

your impulse might be to be nice and say

something to that effect it's in general

it's better to just wait and deal with

that later because I know from

experience you're often in the shock of

the moment and I recall in my own

accident me saying oh I think I'm okay

and I mean what I meant was I physically

could get out of the car but I didn't

know later the next day I would not be

feeling okay at all and I don't

recall if we got into the fault as I

recall I think the other driver

acknowledged that she hit me right away

but again just avoid making any

statements about the fault

who's at fault even if you think it may

be partially your you are to blame and

then just wait for the police to arrive

and cooperate fully when they get to the

accident you want to say stay there at

the scene until the police say you can

leave now if you have a medical

condition let them know if you really

need to get to the hospital obviously

that's where you need to get going but

if you can stay at the scene while they

collect information for the accident

report that's the best and when you

speak to the police only tell them the

facts of the accident you don't need to

draw a conclusion to say I think or this

or that just tell them what happened in

your own words from what you know the

responsibility for the accident is a

matter of law in the state and it may or

may not be clear right away what was the

cause of the crash so again you just

want to make sure you're reciting the

facts as you know them and you don't

need to get into drawing conclusions or

assigning blame at that point now after

the police say it's okay for you to

leave you need to go to a health care

provider as soon as possible and get

checked out similar to my story you may

not realize right away the full extent

of your injuries in fact I was an 18

year old college student and never been

injured before in my life and like I

said I felt fine the day I got out I

even recall I forget if I had to work

that day but it was only after sleeping

the next morning that I woke up

with the severe neck and back pain and

that pain stayed with me for many months

so my advice is to go see the doctor

right away

because in my case I didn't know that

and it I did go the next day I woke up I

was so stiff then I realized I needed to

go to see the

chiropractor and get treatment but if you're

in the accident you should go to a

health care provider right away because

even a minor ache can be indication of a

serious problem and looking back I

should have gone right there to get

checked out the day that accident

happened as well so you should do that

if there's any chance you were injured

you want to see the doctor as soon as

possible so they can look you over and

put in your medical records what's going

on and so the other thing is if you wait

too long

later the insurance company could say

maybe that injury wasn't from the

accident it was from something else so

the best thing is to get to the health

care provider as soon as you can after

the accident to be checked out the

longer you wait the harder it may be to

connect your injuries to the accident

and be sure to tell the doctor as much

as you can about the accident and any of

your injuries including you know

dizziness nausea memory loss whatever

you're feeling after the accident I know

in my case it was that severe neck and

back pain and my chiropractor worked

with me for many months and that greatly

alleviated the pain but again I felt so

naive I didn't know what to do so I did

go to the chiropractor but I believe it

was a few days later the other thing I

remember being concerned about was as a

college student without health insurance

I was concerned about paying the bill

but thankfully my chiropractor held the

bill until I was able to settle the case

with the insurance company and pay them

and many health providers will do that

if you make them aware that this is from

a car accident injury so don't let your

lack of funds prevent you at least from

going and getting checked out after the

accident and as I mentioned earlier you

want to take pictures of your injuries

if you have any visible

that you can see and damage to your

motor vehicle and then collect all your

motor vehicle insurance policy and

information for your lawyer to look

through and make sure you inform your

insurance company about the accident

I recommend talking to a lawyer before

you fill out any of the insurance forms

or before you give any recorded

statement to the insurance company or

prior to meeting with the insurance

company representative it's important to

get the legal advice before you talk to

the insurance company and to consult

with an experienced personal injury

lawyer before you sign any checks or

documents from the company now I

remember in my case the insurance

company called me pretty quickly after

the accident and again I was very naive

so I started talking to them and my main

concern was paying the chiropractor back

because I was worried about that bill I

didn't understand back then that in

their industry they're used to some

bills building up while the claims

process is ongoing but I recall the

insurance company offered me just

exactly about what the cost of my

chiropractic bill was on that date to

settle the case and go away and I didn't

know anything about pain or suffering at

that time I hadn't been to law school

but I recall thinking boy this other

driver hit me and here it wasn't my

fault at all and I'm having to go take

time out of my school day and work to go

to the chiropractor and I have this pain

and all they're offering is to cover the

chiropractor bills that I never would

have had if she hadn't hit me so at that

time I as a university student could go pay a fee and talk to

the university lawyer someone the

university had Student Senate paid to

consult with students about rental

issues and small matters and he gave me

very good advice and helped me negotiate a higher

settlement with the insurance company

for the pain and suffering I had

suffered from that accident and I can

tell you for many years after I had low

back pain from that accident and looking

back now I wish I had waited longer to

settle the case because I recall for a

period of several years I couldn't drive

longer than an hour to an hour and a

half without stopping to take a break to

stretch my back something I'd never had

before the accident so my advice is wait

even though it's your insurance company

understand they're not that may

contact you and the adjuster they are

not necessarily on your side so you

don't want to act like they are

representing you like a lawyer would so

I would go contact a personal injury

lawyer before you do anything further

and at my office you can always contact

me and I'll help connect you with a good

lawyer in the area if it's around where

I practice or if it's farther away

there's many of my classmates and

friends I know I can try to talk you

through this process and then get you to

someone who can help handle your case

because I know as for me as a young

college student I just didn't know where

to turn and I'm so thankful I was able

to go to the campus attorney and get

that good advice before I took that low

settlement offer that the adjuster

initially offered so again stay safe out

there on the roads in Wisconsin and I

hope this overview has been helpful to

you of what to do if you're ever in an

auto accident thanks for watching and

we'll see you next time.

© 2020 Burton Law LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired.

For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact my office.

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